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US Special Forces Group 5, 1st Battalion, D Company. Deployed on peacekeeping duty to the Republic of Georgia in the Caucasus, this handful of Green Berets represents the very tip of the spear - the first line of defense. Equipped with the latest battlefield technology and trained in the latest techniques of covert warfare, they strike, swiftly, silently, invisibly.
They call themselves... the Ghosts.
—Introduction

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 also 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 original game follows a war brewing in post-Cold War Russia in 2008. An ultra-nationalist faction performs a coup d'etat and begin invading former members of the USSR, attempting to rebuild the broken Soviet Union. The game follows the exploits of a special forces team known as the Ghosts (originally a fictional Delta company of the real US Army's 5th Special Forces Group, 1st Battalion, split off in later games into the separate Group for Specialized Tactics, or GST), who are tasked with various missions to halt the coming Russian invasion into the Baltics and Caucasus. Later on, the Ghosts are deployed worldwide to tackle serious criminal, military and terrorist threats to national security, ranging from (another) attempt to restart the Korean War to taking down rogue military forces in Mexico and Russia and drug cartels in Bolivia.

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. Later games avert this, mostly through the use of Combat Resuscitation.

List of Games:

  • The original Ghost Recon trilogy was composed of the first game along with two expansions, Desert Siege and Island Thunder. The three take the player through, respectively, a Russian invasion of the South Ossetian Autonomous Region of Georgia and other former Soviet republics that quickly turns in on itself with civil war; a restart of the Eritrean/Ethiopian War thanks to warlords who helped fund the Russian coup by buying weapons from them; and then flareups of violence in Cuba surrounding the first democratic elections after the projected death of Fidel Castro. There was also a third expansion exclusive to the PlayStation 2, Jungle Storm, in which the player headed to Colombia to take care of guerrilla movements that backed the losing party in Island Thunder before they can regroup and try a more directly-aggressive approach.
  • Ghost Recon 2 was released for consoles only. The game interestingly came in two versions, "First Contact" for the PlayStation 2 and Nintendo GameCube, and "Final Assault" for the Xbox. Both involve war in Korea, the former version being set in the same incident from 2007 as in Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory and the latter in a second war in 2011. Unlike the first game, the game is an over-the-shoulder third person shooter and did away with most of the tactical aspects and divided the fanbase as a result. After mixed reviews, Ubisoft decided to skip a PC release entirely.
    • Ghost Recon 2: Summit Strike is the sequel to 2, only made available via Xbox in 2005.
  • Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter & Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2, the first released in 2006 (Xbox, PS2, PC and Xbox 360) and the second released in 2007 (PS3, Xbox 360 and PC). It raises many speculations about the kinds of equipment and tactics that may one day be employed by special forces teams. While the PS2, Xbox, and PC versions of the first game retained the first-person perspective from earlier installments, the Xbox 360 version utilized a third-person perspective with the ability to switch to first-person when aiming, a feature retained in the 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 a FPS and returned to the first games' tactical simulator gameplay. Set a few years after the second game, both games are set in Mexico during a brutal civil war between loyalists and an ultranationalist faction led by rogue generals who want avert the signing of a mutual defense pact between the US, Canada and Mexico. The Ghosts are sent to support the loyalists while trying to keep their involvement secret.
  • Ghost Recon: Predator, a 2010 Playstation Portable exclusive, was heavily influenced by the gameplay and user interface of the Xbox 360 version of Advanced Warfighter. It starred an all-new team of Ghosts being sent into Sri Lanka to investigate attacks on several U.S. fishing vessels, eventually being caught in the middle of a brewing civil war.
  • Ghost Recon Wii, a 2010 Nintendo Wii exclusive. Adapted for the Wii, it was a hybrid of third-person shooter and light-gun game, and followed the adventures of a two-man Ghost team fighting through the same Russian civil war as featured in Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2 and Shadow Wars (and, by extension, Future Soldier as well).
  • Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars, released for the Nintendo 3DS in 2011, was a significant departure from the series' tactical shooter roots and was instead a turn-based tactical Mascot RPG game, with a game system and interface similar to Advance Wars and Fire Emblem.
  • Ghost Recon: Future Soldier was originally supposed to tie in with the 2010 games Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2, Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars, and Ghost Recon Wii, but a two-year delay in development (finally being released in 2012) resulted in a noticeable drift in the game's story and setting. It picks up several years after the events of Advanced Warfighter (somewhere around 2024), and begins with a Ghost team that discovers - and then dies to - a dirty bomb in Nicaragua. A separate group of Ghosts, Team Hunter, are sent out to investigate the origin of the bomb, which leads to the discovery of another coup attempt in Russia revolving around a group called "Raven's Rock" and their special forces group "Bodark".
  • The free-to-play shooter, Ghost Recon Online, released in 2012, rebranded Ghost Recon: Phantoms in 2014, eventually taken down in late 2016. It was essentially a mostly plotless, multiplayer-only spinoff to Future Soldier.
  • Ghost Recon Wildlands, a Wide-Open Sandbox shooter which can be played either solo with AI teammates or cooperatively with up to 3 other players. An interquel between the Advanced Warfighter duology and Future Soldier, set in 2019, a Ghost team is sent into Bolivia to deal with the Santa Blanca drug cartel, who have turned the country into the world's largest cocaine producer. See the reveal trailer here.
  • Ghost Recon Breakpoint, released on October 4, 2019. Set about six years after the events in Bolivia, the Ghosts are sent into the fictional country of Auroa to investigate when Skell Technology, a company that specializes in AI drone technology, goes dark. Unlike Wildlands, the game is an always-online shooter with RPG elements and a loot system similar to Ubisoft's online loot shooter The Division. Reveal trailer here.
  • Ghost Recon: Frontline: A Battle Royale Spin-Off game announced in October 2021, then cancelled in July 2022 after significant fan backlash.

The games are also notable for crossing over with some other Tom Clancy's properties, being the first to explicitly identify any of them as taking place in the same universe. As mentioned above, the "First Contact" version of Ghost Recon 2 took place in the same second Korean War from Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, and both Wildlands and Breakpoint had DLC missions that had you assisting a post-Blacklist Sam Fisher, as well as another mission that features Rainbow operatives from Rainbow Six Siege. H.A.W.X. is a particularly frequent crossover target, with Ghost 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; H.A.W.X. 2 and Ghost Recon: Future Soldier more or less depict the same conflict, though with quite a few differences given Future Soldier's troubled development.


Tropes found in the series:

  • Action Girl: Some of the Ghosts, particularly specialists in the first game (namely Captain Susan Grey, Lindy Cohen, Lithuanian resistance fighter Astra Galinsky, and Eritrean machine-gunner Jodit Haile in the Desert Siege expansion pack). Ghost Recon 2 has Jennifer Burke and sniper Alicia Diaz, who is also a team member in the console versions of Advanced Warfighter and its sequel.
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: More like "Japanese Commando is Not Hardcore": the Japanese and American boxart for Ghost Recon: Jungle Storm portrays two very, very different games. It's inverted, both in that it's not originally a Japanese game, and that the American "hardcore" version is the accurate version.
  • America Saves the Day:
    • Somewhat subverted in the first game, as there are plenty of international "specialists" from various countries to help you, and Russian loyalists do plenty of the work themselves offscreen, with you at best tipping the odds in their favor.
    • In the Advanced Warfighter series, "Captain Mitchell Saves The Day".
  • 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 gone. Non-fatal wounds, which are rare without high Endurance versus a weak weapon, require time off of the field to heal before the soldier in question is back to full effectiveness.
    • Averted in Shadow Wars where a Ghost killed is an automatic defeat condition. Gameplay otherwise averts this like in Shadow Wars, where AI-controlled Ghosts are all but invincible, with very little punishment the enemy can possibly throw at you that will one-shot anyone on your side, and it's a game over if anyone dies.
  • 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 (even in the first game, three to six of them were already stopping entire armored columns with heavy infantry support), it's justified.
  • Camera Perspective Switch: Advanced Warfighter on 360/PS3 and all the games from Future Soldier onward allow you to switch between third and first-person POV when aiming.
  • The Cavalry: Used many times throughout the franchise.
  • Checkpoint Starvation: Advanced Warfighter and Future Soldier can often make players lose quite a bit of progress if they die at certain points, due to a lack of checkpoints. In particular, the devs deliberately designed the final level of Future Soldier with as few checkpoints as possible, partially so that unlocking one of the best attachments in the game (which requires, among other things, playing through nearly the entire mission on the highest difficulty without being detected) is one of the hardest things to do in the game.
    • The first game has no checkpoints whatsoever.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard:
    • While still a problem, especially in Advanced Warfighter, the original game and its expansions were better at subverting it. To elaborate, the AI in the first game obeys a rather impressive (for the time) AI, including use of real tactics like flanking or suppressing fire. It is also relatively decent about emulating stealth. Downsides include the AI enemies having the bog standard magic laser vision once the player is detected, a bad tendency to suicidally charge into entrenched positions after a set amount of time, and response times / reflexes for both your squadmates and the enemy that switch at random between "superhuman" and "mailing the bullets would be faster". Enemy accuracy also seems to be effected mostly by your stance, so you can be prone in the middle of an open field where you should get hit instantly and have several shots just miss you... or stand up, just barely putting your head in view, and get sniped by a regular rifle in the head instantly from a decent distance.
  • Continue Your Mission, Dammit!: More common as the series went on, as the original only really had a conversation at the start of a level between the soldiers you sent in and then left you to your own devices with no particular time limit, unless an objective involved the movement of tanks, such as enemy tanks coming up to a checkpoint or friendly tanks rolling through insecure territory.
  • 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 America and North Korea. Ghost Recon 2 focuses on fighting that actual war, while Chaos Theory is all about the real truth behind it.
      • In the Xbox version, which is set in a second war in 2011, the stories of the Ghosts during the North Korean conflict are narrated by retired Major Will Jacobs, one of the unlockable specialists from the original game.
    • Joe Ramirez and Richard Allen both appear in the first mission of Future Soldier where they're killed, while now-Major Scott Mitchell acts as your commanding officer.
      • After a nuclear missile is shot down over London, Mitchell states that the nuke was likely a rogue spear, which is the Tom Clancy equivalent to the real life term Empty Quiver.
      • 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 its expansions, your soldiers can receive campaign ribbons and Purple Hearts for taking part in missions, getting kills or getting injured.
  • Critical Existence Failure:
    • Averted 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.
    • Also averted in the Advanced Warfighter games; if Cpt. Mitchell is shot, he'll move slower and noticeably limp for a few moments before returning to normal condition.
  • Diegetic Interface: The augmented reality HUD in Advanced Warfighter and Future Soldier. If it's knocked out, you can't access things like the objectives screen. The Ember Hunt mission in the latter game sees it needing a reboot, during which you can't access it. This part gets a little odd in what it counts as diegetic, however - stuff like your ammo count is obviously removed, but so are things that don't appear to be part of the AR HUD, like damage-direction indicators or even the bloody screen when you're injured, yet at the same time things that clearly are part of the augmented reality like grenade/RPG indicators are kept. The first mission of the "Raven Strike" DLC advertises itself as a callback to the original game by way of running the AR in "safe mode" (since it's set immediately after Ember Hunt), which means next to none of the goodies that are unique to the game like active camo.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: The Ghosts were formerly known as Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group, before the company was dissolved and reformed as a Tier 1 special mission unit, the Group for Specialized Tactics (GST). The Ghosts specialize in direct action, special reconnaissance, and unconventional warfare. They are often deployed to denied or politically-sensitive areas with little to no support.
  • Empty Quiver:
    • The Advanced Warfighter duology partly revolves around the President's nuclear football being stolen in the first game, and two actual nukes being stolen in the second.
    • The introduction to one level in Future Soldier involves a nuclear missile launched from Russia towards London, without the Russian government's authorization. The actual warhead was destroyed by an anti-nuke missile shield, but the delivery system still impacts a skyscraper and ultimately kills a bunch of people.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto:
    • Averted in the first game, where they are indestrucible, being able to take rockets and machine gun fire.
    • Inversely, cars explode with alarmingly little prompting in Future Soldier. All it takes is a few .45 ACP rounds from your pistol to turn any random car on the street into a giant bomb.
  • 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 Georgian 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 there, 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 - fortunately, the issue is sidestepped by having your team moved in ahead of the target, letting the ISI push that target towards the Ghosts.
  • Gatling Good: The first game was light on this, but as the series went on more and more multi-barreled machine guns started making appearances, particularly in Future Soldier where one mission gives you a quick ride in a Russian jeep that happens to have a minigun mounted on top.
  • Genre Shift: While the first Ghost Recon game was indeed a hardcore tactical simulator, the series shifted to third-person action shooter as early as Ghost Recon 2 and continuing with the console version of Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter. Out of the entire series, only the PC versions of Advanced Warfighter 1 and 2 really stuck to the first-person tactical simulator gameplay of the first 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 Advanced Warfighter 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: Present to some extent in earlier games, particularly with the "M4 SOPMOD" from Island Thunder that included a long-distance optic and suppressor to make it essentially the best gun in the game, so long as you didn't need someone with a Demo kit. The Gunsmith system in Future Soldier goes all-out with this and 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 and its trigger so it fires with less pull.
  • Hollywood Silencer: Subverted. Silenced weapons have realistic sounds but are inaudible from more than a few feet away.
  • Invisible Wall: Classic kind in Ghost Recon, Game Over kind in Advanced Warfighter and Future Soldier.
  • Limited Loadout: From the very beginning, the series has only ever allowed you two weapons. The first game is the most restrictive, giving you only a primary weapon and one secondary piece of equipment, such as giving up a pistol to attach a grenade launcher to your rifle, or carry a few extra magazines.
  • Make the Bear Angry Again: A frequent plot point; both the original game and Future Soldier feature coups taking over Moscow, the former then going on to antagonize various other former Soviet satellite states in an attempt to drag them back into a new Union.
  • 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.
  • Multinational Team: Generally averted, but some of the specialists in the first game are from other NATO militaries.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: The setting for most of the games. The first Ghost Recon was released in 2001 and is set in 2008, Desert Siege and Island Thunder were released in 2002 and are set in 2009 and 2010 respectively, and Jungle Storm was released in 2004 and is set in 2010. The first GRAW was released in 2006 and is set in 2013, GRAW 2 was released in 2007 and is set in 2014. Future Soldier was released in 2012 and set in 2024. Breakpoint was released in 2019 and set in 2025. Wildlands is the closest thing the series has to an exception, releasing in 2017 and taking place in 2019.
  • Nintendo Hard: Especially early in the series. You generally want to play in such a way that your side is the only one doing any shooting, because you will lose people if the enemy shoots back.
  • No One Gets Left Behind:
    • Averted in the first game. Teammates who get killed will be left where they died.
    • In the two Advanced Warfighter games, if one of your teammates is downed, your Mission Control will mention that support teams will come by to retrieve them later when the fighting has died down; said downed teammates will be back in full fighting shape in the next mission.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: The main antagonists of each game often are politicians or general officers who tend to not actually engage in combat with the Ghosts. Only Colonel Wolde from the Desert Strike expansion pack, Asad Rahil from the Summit Strike expansion pack, Carlos Ontiveros from Advanced Warfighter, Juan de la Barrera from Advanced Warfighter 2, and General Burkharov from Future Soldier actually engage the Ghosts directly in combat, and in each case, they're realistically no tougher than a regular infantry unit (with the exception of de la Barrera, who engages you in a helicopter). Also, of all the villains in the series, only Carlos Ontiveros regularly opposes the Ghosts throughout the game; all other villains often don't interact with the Ghosts at all until their respective final level.
  • One Bullet Clips: Largely averted until Future Soldier, which plays it straight.
  • One-Steve Limit: Only averted with the last name "Ramirez" (a relatively common last name), as there have been a total of 3 unrelated Ghost team members with that name. Otherwise played straight.
  • Painting the Medium: Much like Splinter Cell: Conviction, the names of locations and quest objectives are overlaid onto walls and the sky; here it's justified in-universe by way of the augmented-reality system the Ghosts are all using.
  • Permadeath: 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.
  • 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.
  • Same Plot Sequel: The first Ghost Recon begins with a coup taking place in Russia and the Ghosts are sent in secret to handle it. Future Soldier also has the Ghosts dealing with a coup in Russia.
  • 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).
  • 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'├ętat. 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 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.
  • Small Girl, Big Gun: Female members of the Ghosts obviously tend towards the small side, but also usually tend for bigger weapons. A particular standout is the Eritrean Defense Force specialist Jodit Haile from Desert Siege, a lanky woman with little visible muscle mass who nevertheless manages to lug around a PKM like it's an assault rifle with a larger magazine.
  • Stealth-Based Mission:
    • One mission in the original game has you infiltrating a prison camp to rescue POWs who include the son of an important politician. The alarm is going to be raised at some point no matter what you do, but it's in your best interest to keep that from happening for as long as possible.
    • A few missions in Future Soldier have segments where the player must avoid raising the alarms.
  • Tactical Shooter: The first games in the series played just like Rainbow Six, albeit more focused on wide-open areas.
  • Technology Porn: There is an attention to detail on existing military hardware at its time, and the usage of high-technology military hardware that borders on Rule of Cool. The Ghosts, with all of the aforementioned tech on themselves, look like futuristic soldiers ahead of their time.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The setting for all of the games.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment: Prevalent up to Advanced Warfighter. In the 360 version you could pick up enemy guns and use machine gun nests, but the PC version only let you collect one magazine from the enemy's weapons, as long as yours was 9mm or 5.56mm, and couldn't even use their fixed emplacements. Advanced Warfighter 2 allowed you to claim an enemy machine gun nest and pick up enemy guns, while Future Soldier allows you to pick up enemy weapons and mount enemy emplacements as you please (in fact, one mission challenge requires you to kill enemies with 15 different weapons, which is only possible by using enemy guns).
    • You can use fixed emplacements in the original, but not pick up weapons/ammo.
  • Urban Warfare: Ghost Recon has a few urban missions, but GRAW and its sequel deal with this exclusively.
  • 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.

 
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