Ghost Recon is a first-person shooter and tactical simulator series by Red Storm Entertainment and UbiSoft. Its first installment was released in 2001.It is known by its full name "Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon". Note that Clancy's involvement in this series, as well as its novelization, is remote but noticeable. Note that it has much in common with the similarly titled "Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six", though the two series are still very distinct in gameplay terms.The game follows a war brewing in post-Cold War Russia in 2008. A faction called the ''Ultra-Nationalists'' perform a coup d'etat and begin invading former members of the USSR, attempting to rebuild the broken Soviet Union. More specifically, the game follows the exploits of a multi-national group of soldiers, called the Ghosts, who are tasked with various missions to halt the coming Russian invasion into the Baltics and Caucasus.Within the game, the player puts together and then controls a team of six soldiers, each with his own specialty, stats, weapon and gear. The Ghosts fight as a group: it is possible to directly control any of the characters who are still alive, at any time during a mission, but the point of the game is to learn how to control the entire team (using a surprisingly simple interface for the task).Unlike "conventional" first-person shooters of the period, the game attempts to mimic real-world combat as faithfully as possible. Use of "smart" tactics and stealth is practically mandatory. That's because bullets kill, often with just one hit, and enemies are definitely not graduates of the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy. Covering fire, judicial use of explosives and coordinated assaults are pretty much required if you want to keep your squaddies alive more than a couple of seconds into a firefight.This game is definitely not for players who just like running around and shooting things - combat here is something you want to avoid until you have both the element of surprise as well as a massive advantage over whomever you want to kill. That takes time, planning, observing enemies as they move around, you get the picture. Single missions can take hours to complete, even more if you don't use Save Scumming. Expect lots of Trial-and-Error Gameplay, although it's definitely worth it.In addition to the combat realism, this was one of the first PC games to feature high-quality 3D sound, and was considered very advanced in terms of graphics at the time. The attention to details regarding weapon performance and other military hardware is quite worthy of the Tom Clancy prefix. There's Scenery Porn as well, especially in missions that take place in locations such as downtown Talinn, Riga, and finally Moscow. The Red Square and the GUM shopping mall across from it are portrayed with stunning accuracy.There are several installments in the greater Ghost Recon series to date, although many are Expansion Packs in disguise.
The original Ghost Recon trilogy was composed of the first game along with two expansions, Desert Siege and Island Thunder. There was also a PS2 exclusive expansion, Jungle Storm.
Ghost Recon 2 was released for consoles only. It did away with most of the tactical aspects and divided the fanbase as a result. After mixed reviews, UbiSoft decided to skip the PC market entirely with this sequel.
UbiSoft then started a similar series of games called Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter. This series had two installments, and takes place a few years after the first game. It raises many speculations about the kinds of equipment and tactics that may one day be employed by special forces teams. While the Playstation2, Xbox, and PC versions of the first game retained the first-person perspective from earlier installments, the Xbox 360 port utilized a third-person perspective with the ability to switch to first-person when aiming, a feature retained in the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of the second game. The console versions retained some of the original's tactical decisions, and used a cover system later popularized by Gears of War, while the PC version was an FPS and returned to the first games' gameplay.
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier picks up several years after the events of Advanced Warfighter, and begins with a Ghost team that discovers a dirty bomb in Nicaragua. A separate group of Ghosts, Team Predator, are sent out to investigate the origin of the bomb, which leads to the discovery of a coup attempt in Russia. The game uses many of the same gameplay mechanics from Warfighter, while introducing new elements like the Gunsmith customizable weapon system. Watch the teaser trailer.
The games cross over some with Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X., with Ghost Recon units being the subject of a few Escort Missions in that series and HAWX flight lending aerial support in a few missions of later Ghost Recon games.
Tropes found in the series:
Action Girl: Some of the Ghosts. Astra Galinsky also counts.
Air-Vent Passageway: In the Future Soldier mission "Firefly Rain", the team travels through a room with multiple industrial fans to get to a Russian airport hangar. Granted that they don't actually have to crawl since the fans are pretty huge, but the point still stands.
All There in the Manual: In Future Soldier, Mitchell is never referred to by name throughout the entire game. If you play the game blind without having seen any supplementary materials, you would have no idea that your commander is the player character from the previous games in the series.
The All-Seeing A.I.: Sniper-type units in GRAW are better at detecting your team, while regular foot soldiers may sometimes wait a few seconds first.
In the Advanced Warfighter series, "Captain Mitchell Saves The Day".
In Future Soldier, "America Saves The Day But Lets The Russians Believe They Did It Themselves".
Anyone Can Die: Much like the original Rainbow Six games. If one of your soldiers dies in the first game, they won't come back. You'll have to recruit a newbie soldier and train him. Specialists with their powerful weapon are Lost Forever. In Advanced Warfighter, soldiers are simply wounded until the end of either the current or following mission.
Averted in Shadow Wars where a Ghost killed is an automatic defeat condition.
In Advanced Warfighter, quite a few of the Ghosts you came to know in Ghost Recon 2 die, including Jennifer Burke and Nick Salvatore, though this was later retconned in Endwar.
In the Future Soldier prequel Alpha, a Ghost (Chuck) is suddenly shot in the face while trying to disarm a warhead.
Future Soldier starts off by showing us the first-person death of Joe Ramirez, who's been with the franchise as long as main lead Captain Mitchell and was considered something of The Lancer (also killed is Richard Allen, another long-running Ghost).
Badass Crew: The Ghosts are considered the elite of the elite in the U.S. Army. Considering all the insane odds they go through in battle, it's justified.
Black Dude Dies First: Future Soldier's aversion of this is notable in that Ghost Lead throws out literally every death card related to this trope in the intro to the penultimate mission but still survives to the end.
Boisterous Bruiser: Richter in Shadow Wars. The manual states he likes to poke fun at younger Ghosts.
Incidentally, this works in the player's favor in Future Soldier. AI squadmates will almost never be detected by patrolling enemies (even when walking right past them), will rarely/never get downed by enemy fire, have ridiculously good aim, will never lose track of marked targets once locked on, will shoot them the instant you give the order or shoot your marked target (though sometimes they don't, just so you'll get detected), and can shoot through walls to get at said marked targets if they pass behind buildings. When playing through the main campaign, having flesh-and-blood teammates is a liability rather than an asset.
The Computer Is A Lying Bastard: Some of the weapon specifications shown in Advanced Warfighter are incorrect - stating that default assault rifle has a capacity of 60 bullets but it really has 30.
Continuity Nod: Most notably in the Advanced Warfighter series, where places and events in Tom Clancy's other franchises (Rainbow Six Vegas, HAWX) are referenced.
The PS2 version of Ghost Recon 2 takes place in the same setting as Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory; In Chaos Theory, an American PMC secretly hijacks a North Korean missile and uses it to sink an American warship, framing North Korea and triggering a war between American and North Korean. Ghost Recon 2 focuses on fighting that actual war, while Chaos Theory is all about the real truth behind it.
Joe Ramirez and Richard Allen both appear in the first mission of Future Soldierwhere they're killed, while now-Major Scott Mitchell acts as your commanding officer.
In a later mission, the HAWX squadron shows up to provide air support when your team is protecting the leader of a resistance movement.
One of your missions in the game is to rescue the survivors of a Georgian special forces team. The sole survivor, Sgt. Osadze, mentions that his older brother once served with the Ghosts; this is a reference to Guram Osadze, one of the unlockable support specialists from the first game.
Cosmetic Award: In the original game (and it's expansions), your soldiers can receive campaign ribbons and Purple Hearts for taking part in missions, getting kills or getting injured.
Subverted in the original: if there was a bullet in a guy he will limp, move slower, breath heavier, have worse aim, be unable to carry his gun without it drooping, and hunch over. Future Soldier plays it completely straight, however.
Cruel and Unusual Death: Not only is an entire Ghost team killed off via a dirty bomb explosion in Future Soldier's opening mission, but you get to see the flesh on Ramirez's arms burning off just before he falls off a cliff, in first-person!
Later in the same game, we see random London citizens getting sliced and stabbed by falling glass shards.
Deadpan Snarker: Your CO in Future Soldier. While launching an airstrike in Russian territory to bail you out:
"Your international incident's on its way."
Determinator / Made of Iron: Cpt. Mitchell from the Advanced Warfighter series. It becomes increasingly clear throughout both games that he (and you, by proxy) is pretty much a one-man wrecking crew. He shrugs off bullets, goes on several solo missions that involve traversing long distances and fighting squads of soldiers by himself, downs several enemy helicopters, protects the President of the United States from overwhelming enemy forces, etc. At the end of the second game, he authorizes an EMP airstrike on himself to stop a nuclear missile in his immediate area from being launched. And he survives!
Diegetic Interface: The augmented reality HUD in Advanced Warfighter and Future Soldier. If you're knocked out, you can't access things like the objectives screen. The Ember Hunt mission sees it needing a reboot, during which you can't access it; things denied to you during this section include your ammo counter and the markers noting which direction you're getting shot from, apparently.
Advanced Warfighter has the Aguila 7, the Mexican special forces leading the coup de tat. They were equipped with superior weapons (their sniper rifles in particular were a 1-hit-kill) and body armor. Advanced Warfighter 2 had PMC mercenaries hired by the rebels; being members of a PMC they had access to better arms and equipment than the rebels.
Future Soldier has the Bodarks ("Werewolves"), Russian elite special forces who are a match for the Ghosts themselves, including having access to the same advanced combat tech such as active camo (which also makes them invisible to your high-tech sensors) and EMP grenades.
Ghost Recon 2 has North Korean Special Forces, who use high tech Chinese weapons, fire more accurately and utilize better tactics than the rank and file DPRK grunt.
The original game had your team escort tanks on at least two instances. Granted that this is through urban terrain, where they're far more vulnerable to baddies carrying rocket launchers hiding behind walls. Thankfully, as long as you deal with the anti-armor troops and the occasional enemy vehicle (with your own anti-armor specialist), the tanks can take care of themselves fairly well.
In Advanced Warfighter, the Quarterback mission will challenge the intelligence of the US President Ballantine. The Ready For Bear mission has you escort the pilots of a liberated Abrams brigade, who are better at taking care of themselves.
One mission in Future Soldier has you "escort" the AI-controlled quadruped Warhound. Only, it's invincible against everything the enemy tries to throw at it, and comes with its own mortar and missile system. Guess what does most of the killing in that mission?
Exact Words: At the end of Future Soldier, the Ghosts shoot the final leader of Raven's Rock, and are about to kill him to get vengeance for the Ghosts killed in the opening mission, but are suddenly stopped by orders from "the highest level" not to kill him (the implication being that Command wants the guy to survive due to his political clout). Instead, the Ghosts leave the wounded guy on a train track to be run over by an incoming train; as he demands they save him and take him into custody, Ghost Lead quips "our orders were not to touch you" as the guy is run over. It's all very Batman Begins.
Expy: In Future Soldier we have President Volodin, which in his youngest days has tamed wild bears, comes from a military background, and even after being tortured can handle himself in a shooting - sounds like a real life Russian president.
Faceless Mooks: The Raven's Rock infantry in Future Soldier all wear balaclavas. Russian regulars don't wear masks, though.
Final Death: Downed squad members, particularly in the original trilogy, are out of the game forever, as well as in later games if not healed by a medic in time.
First-Person Ghost: The original games don't even show you your own weapon in first-person view, though later games do avert this, with Future Soldier being near-entirely third-person.
Friendly Enemy: The Ghosts have ended up cooperating with countries such as Georgia (who were the Big Bad of the first Splinter Cell), moderate factions in Russia, and Pakistan. In fact it's entirely possible that some of the Georgia special forces you're sent to help in one mission of Future Soldier were among the Elite Mooks shooting at Sam Fisher in the final mission of Splinter Cell.
Speaking of Pakistan, one of the missions in Future Soldier takes place in Pakistan, where the Pakistani ISI try to double-cross the Ghosts and capture their target for themselves. They are still considered allies, so the Ghosts can't shoot them, but they won't extend you the same courtesy (or wouldn't, at least, if they actually showed up in-game).
The Greatest Story Never Told: Because the missions taken by the Ghosts are beyond top secret (and many of their missions would outright constitute an act of war), the government can never acknowledge that they ever took place. In both GRAW and Future Soldier, all the actions taken by the Ghosts are officially credited to American-backed factions inside the Enemy Nation of the Week.
This was averted in the Xbox version of Ghost Recon 2, where the Ghost's missions in the 2011 Korean War have been declassified and the story is presented through a Show Within a Show interviewing the Ghosts and some of their foreign comrades.
Gun Accessories: The Gunsmith system in Future Soldier offers a ridiculous amount of options, from silencers and Grenade Launchers, to changing your gun's gas system so it fires faster or slower than normal.
The Plaza del Angel mission in Advanced Warfighter, where, after several minutes of increasingly hostile engagement, your squad and the dignitaries under your care (as well as the "nuclear football") are saved at the last second from a tank brigade by the arrival of US gunships.
Similarly, the mission to extract a reporter from a bullfighting arena in GRAW 2 has the Ghosts fighting off waves of attacking soldiers. When two tanks show up, the Ghosts call for air support and are saved by Apache gunships.
This happens quite few times in Future Soldier, where your team gets dug out of various scrapes by minigun-armed choppers or by fixed wing fighter-bombers.
Harder Than Hard: Patches for the PC version of Future Soldier introduced "Hardcore Mode", which changes up the mechanics to make the game more difficult - enemy weapons are even deadlier than before, cross-com goodies like sensor grenades only last a couple of seconds, and adaptive camo is changed to work like in multiplayer, where any movement deactivates it.
Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: Rookie, Veteran, and Elite in Shadow Wars. The higher the difficulty of the mission, the more stars you get afterwards, which you can use to level up your squad members.
Future Soldier keeps these, other than swapping Rookie out for Recruit. The higher the difficulty, the less damage the player can take before being incapacitated or killed, the fewer times they'll be incapped rather than outright killed in this case (from about five times on Recruit to almost never on Elite), and the higher bonus they get to their Ghost score at the end of the mission.
Interface Screw: A slight blur, done several times during the Advanced Warfighter series. However, you won't be able to use the compass or have enemies marked on your hud.
During the Dagestan mission in Future Soldier, there's periodic interference to the HUD and AR system the Ghosts use, ranging from blurring and static, to false readings of enemies. Eventually, Mitchell has the system taken offline for debugging, forcing the player to go with nothing but the magnetic goggles for the rest of the level.
Invisibility Cloak: Future Soldier's second mission introduces the adaptive camo. It only works when stationary, crouched or prone - no sprinting unless using the cover-shift when not in combat - and suffers from Invisibility Flicker. Multiplayer only gives it to Scouts and changes it so they can't move at all without deactivating it.
It's Up to You: In Advanced Warfighter, getting killed causes the general to order retreat to all units.
In the second mission of Future Soldier, the enemy soldiers will frequently harass random civilians; your first kill in the level is someone who had just tried to sexually assault a woman. The third mission likewise starts with the PMC mooks killing civilians.
In the final mission of Future Soldier, the first two Raven's Rock leaders can be found performing various dirty deeds (assaulting their wife or secretary, executing a P.O.W.) before you assassinate them.
Landmarking the Hidden Base: In Advanced Warfighter 2, a massive computer system linked to the United States' anti-ballistic missile mainframe is hidden under a dam in El Paso, Texas.
Limit Break: In Shadow Wars the soldiers (even the Mooks under your command) can use a special attack if their meter reach 100%.
Made of Explodium: In Future Soldier's first two levels, you encounter some technicals with machine guns. When you kill their gunners - not even touching the vehicle proper, thus disqualifying this from Every Car Is a Pinto - the vehicle promptly explodes for no reason.
As for Every Car Is a Pinto, non-armored vehicles in this game and Advanced Warfighter will explode if they get shot up enough.
Advanced Warfighter, mission Coup d'état has a minor battle in Zócalo Plaza with infantry. The mission Fierce Resistance doesn't, as approaching the plaza causes you to be ordered to do something else, but you do get two tanks used to clean up the mess at the end of the mission.
Advanced Warfighter, mission VIP 2 is Down (the Plaza del Angel/Mexican Presidential Palace), in which you must protect the President of the United States, several dignitaries and the U.S. "nuclear football" from an onslaught of enemy soldiers and armor. Redux in mission NORAD on the line
More Dakka: The OICW's grenade launcher is semi-automatic, with 6 grenades per magazine. A Ghost Recon expansion has a 12-round grenade launcher, but you need a secondary weapon if you run out of grenades.
Non-Uniform Uniform: The Ghosts in Future Soldier wear all sorts of clothing, with hardly a piece of American uniform seen... which makes sense when it's recalled that they're on black ops, and the US will disavow them if they're captured or killed.
Notice This: A staple of GRAW; the game will often alert you when it is possible to place C4 explosives.
In Shadow Wars, doors you can open have a big floating key next to them, and areas you should notice are highlighted with a green circle. Pickups also glow.
One Bullet Clips: Largely averted until Future Soldier, which plays it straight.
One-Hit-Point Wonder: In Advanced Warfighter 1's Hard mode, any shot connecting with you will kill you instantly.
Optional Stealth: Future Soldier offers higher scores for sync-shots, neck-snaps, and stealth kills, but they're not necessary except for a few short no-alarm segments. And even then, unsuppressed weapons can be used stealthily by ensuring no one is left alive to sound the alarm. There's also the fact that total stealth docks points - you have to kill everyone if you want a high Ghost score to unlock new things.
Post-Climax Confrontation: In Advanced Warfighter 2, you fight the rebel leader in a helicopter gunship duel towards the end of the game. After killing him and recovering the nuke he stole, you learn that despite the rebel leader's death, the PMC he hired is still planning to launch missiles into the United States from the Mexican border. You then deploy to stop the PMC from launching their missiles for the game's final mission.
President Evil: Dmitri Arbatov (the original game), General Jung (Ghost Recon 2), and Sergey Makhmudov (Future Soldier).
Private Military Contractors: The eventual big bad of GRAW 2., and also the Mooks in the Nigeria mission of Future Soldier. A Russian PMC called Raven's Rock launches a coup against the Russian government in Future Soldier.
Product Placement: In Future Soldier, while in a Nigerian village, there is a wall with nothing on it but a large UnderArmor poster right behind an ammo cache, directly in the player's line of sight in normal gameplay. There is no explanation as to why there is an ad for an American sports clothing brand in the middle of a sparsely inhabited area of the Nigerian countryside.
While the original trilogy generally employed weaponry that were used by present-day armed forces (such as M16A2s and M249 SAWs), it also let players use at-the-time experimental weapons like the OICW. Later installments allowed players to use weapons such as the XM8, MR-C(only exists as a mock-up in real life), and FN SCAR. In addition, the series' version of the Rx-4 Storm has selective fire, which doesn't exist on the real gun.
Future Soldier takes the cake for this, where both sides use weapons that are either currently experimental or have only recently entered large-scale production.
Reality Is Unrealistic: Many complaints exist about Advanced Warfighter and Future Soldier having the technology and being able to call in drones/artillery/airstrikes to attack targets are unrealistic and merely props to aid newbie players. Little do they know that all the technology seen in the Ghost Recon games either exists, are in prototype stage or on the drawing board. Not to mention that the original Ghost Recon had a fair bit of its share too...OICW anyone?
Special Forces have and always will be assisted with whatever the forces can currently muster up for support. Airstrikes with jets, bombers or drones are among standard procedure if something needs to be taken out that the ground team is incapable of. The AN-PEQ IR-Laser/Flashlight found in many "modern wargame" scenarios can indeed paint targets for laser-guided ammunition, and is not just a fancy aim assistance in real life.
Regenerating Health: Added in Future Soldier. Like Rainbow Six: Vegas, you can survive less hits than, say, Halo, especially on higher difficulties, and health regenerates slower than in most other shooters, but it's still reasonably quick.
Royals Who Actually Do Something: President Ballatine in GRAW and President Volodin in Future Soldier actually turn out to be surprisingly competent combatants. Ghost Command even informs Kozak (who's concerned about extracting a VIP without any backup) that Volodin is ex-military and will be able to hold his own once rescued. Although it's not quite Authority Equals Asskicking as the older Volodin, while competent, is clearly no longer in full fighting trim, especially after being held captive in poor conditions for many days. Ballatine, meanwhile, sometimes turns into a Leeroy Jenkins despite being unarmored and armed only with a pistol.
Save Point: In later games, whenever you complete an objective. It's sometimes with a ~1 minute walk from the action. If you resupply from a chopper, it saves the game after you resupply, when it is taking off (so tough luck to you if it turns out you picked the wrong loadout for the next area, because you're stuck with it).
Sequel Difficulty Spike: The PC version of Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter is tough, but beatable for standard FPS players. The PC version of Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 is insanely tough, to the extent that it's only really comfortable for hardcore old-school tactical shooter veterans.
Sequel Difficulty Drop: Like Rainbow Six Vegas, Future Soldier is a much more "mainstream" experience compared to previous games in the series, especially with the addition of Regenerating Health. Likewise, the Advanced Warfighter series is less tough than the hardcore, old-school original games, especially the third-person console versions.
Series Continuity Error: H.A.W.X. 2 and Ghost Recon: Future Soldier depict the same conflict, but there's a noticeable discrepancy in the details of the coup d'état. HAWX 2 shows that the Loyalist Russian president is a frail-looking guy called "Anton Karskazev" and his replacement is a guy named "Aleksandr Treskayev", while in Future Soldier, the former president is a grizzled former Army veteran named "Volodin" while the usurper is "Sergey Makhmudov". However, this could be explained by HAWX 2's plot being based on the aborted 2010 build of Future Soldier rather than the final version.
Short Range Shotgun: In Future Soldier, shotguns are only consistently instantly-lethal up to about ten meters. Given that almost all of the combat in the game takes place at long range, they're not terribly effective, even in missions where Mission Control recommends you bring one (ignore him).
Shown Their Work: One of the reasons GRAW is so popular in Mexico, especially among Mexico City gamers, is its attention to detail to the city's famous landmarks and locales. Even if you blow the crap out of them in some way or another.
Unusable Enemy Equipment: Prevalent up to Advanced Warfighter. In that game, you could collect one magazine from the enemy's weapons, and couldn't even use their fixed emplacements. Advanced Warfighter 2 allowed you to claim an enemy machine gun nest, while Future Soldier allows you to switch weapons and mount enemy emplacements as you please.
Unwinnable by Mistake: The Steam version of Advanced Warfighter has the player fall through the terrain during a mandatory cutscene.
Urban Warfare: Ghost Recon has a few urban missions, but GRAW and its sequel deal with this exclusively.
Video Game Caring Potential: Future Soldier's second mission involves the Ghosts hunting down a warlord who has taken over a refugee camp. You get Challenges to avoid civilian casualties and kill every last one of the warlord's mooks terrorizing the people.
Video Game Cruelty Potential: Incendiary ammo is an optional armament for machine guns and shotguns in Future Soldier; they do less damage than standard FMJ rounds in exchange for delivering damage over time, which is rather a moot point for shotguns, which often kill in one shot at close range. The only real reason to use it with a shotgun is so that you can watch your victim fall to the ground screaming as the ammo burns him alive inside out. Sniper rifles get Raufoss ammo instead, which exchanges cover-penetration ability for outright exploding upon hitting someone.
Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Future Soldier fails your mission if you kill too many civilians. Ghost Recon had civilians as hostages and free-running during the final mission, which instantly fail the mission if they die. Other games avoided the issue by not having civilians in the combat zone.
We Cannot Go On Without You: Averted in the earlier entries, played straight in later installments. In the original game, you could get all of your named specialists killed (just like the original Rainbow Six), and you would be stuck playing with Red Shirt troops for the rest of the game. In the Advanced Warfighter and Future Soldier games, the mission will end if the player character or one of their squadmates dies.
Wolf Pack Boss: Most of the franchise's final bosses are ringleaders surrounded by a lot of bodyguards, comparable to the amount of enemies in major battles. Combat is similar elsewhere, although the enemies are concentrated in an area that you have to enter. In some cases, you might not notice the leader die because you were shelling the bodyguards with grenades.
Wretched Hive: If the events of the Advanced Warfighter series are anything to go by, Mexico is pretty much a hellhole of massive proportions (especially the city of Juarez, which sees more violence, plane crashes, gunbattles and deaths in two days than most other cities in the world see in a year). It isn't that far from real life...