Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Island Thunder

4Ghost Recon: Island Thunder is set in Cuba. Here’s the plot – Fidel is dead, and the US wants the country to become more democratic, which apparently goes against the wishes of major drug lords and militant fractions within Cuba. The Ghosts, an elite team of U.S. Army Green Berets, are sent to Cuba as part of a UN peacekeeping force to destroy the rebel forces and their mercenary leaders. This time around however, Ghost Recon will have their work cut out for them, since Island Thunder brings little in the way of novelty save for the increased difficulty.

Island Thunder features 8 new single-player missions, 2 new multiplayer game types, 5 new dedicated multiplayer maps, and 12 new multiplayer weapons such as the M4 SOCOM rifle and the MM-1 automatic grenade launcher. The major highlight of the game is the added difficulty, which all but forces you to inch through the game using the quicksave key. This means that Island Thunder is set almost exclusively for people who have played through the first Ghost Recon and know the gameplay inside out. Enemy soldiers are extremely sharp in this game – they can spot you from far away and hit you very easily. It does feel ultimately unfair – aren’t you’re supposed to be the highly trained special somethings in this combat equation?

The other reason why this game is so tough to beat (or rather it would be if it weren’t for the quick save option), is the constant presence of the fog and mist caused by the high air humidity in the jungle, which severely hinders the visibility, thus making the enemy damn near impossible to spot from afar. Most of the time, the enemies will be shrouded in the veil of mist, and to make matters worse, their uniforms will pretty much blend in with the environment. Realistic – yes. Fair? No, because the mercilessly accurate AI won’t have any problems pinning you down from a couple of hundred meters away – even though the Ghosts are supposedly camouflaged better.

Sometimes unfair, moderately enjoyable and with a few new thingies sprinkled left and right, Island Thunder comes off as a mediocre expansion pack with some positive highlights. The negative points – particularly the hyper-vigilant AI, will probably make you shelf it sooner rather than later.

System Requirements: Pentium II 233 MHz, 32 MB RAM, Win98

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