The Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon series by Ubisoft was a shot in the arm for the shooter genre and introduced tactical gameplay in a big way. Players loved the strategic requirements of controlling a squad rather than mindlessly shooting in first person and the games did Tom Clancy justice by having some very interesting storylines.
Nevertheless the series has seen some major ups and many major downs over the years and only recently seems to be recovering from a run of unpopular games with a promising title Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Breakpoint coming sometime this year.
With the popularity of Facebook and the success some games were seeing on the platform it was only a matter of time before major game developers would test the waters with their own titles and Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Commander was one such attempt that fell flat.
Admittedly comparing a free-to-play Facebook game with a console title is hardly fair, but even by Facebook’s standards it felt like just another simple clone of dozens of other games doing the same thing. In the end it was either a poor attempt at a cash grab or an interactive advertisement for the struggling franchise.
Yet another attempt by the series to break into a new medium, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon for the Wii could have been an interesting game but ended up feeling like a lazy port. The story seemed to be put together using pieces of other titles and the game failed to really take advantage of the motion detection technology utilized by the Wii.
With so many other more interesting and better made games on the Wii it quickly fell through the cracks. In the long run this lack of attention or praise led to many problems porting future titles to the Wii.
Considering Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon series is known for it’s interesting stories, it should have been a red flag that Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Phantoms was doing away with it’s singleplayer campaign and focusing exclusively on free-to-play multiplayer-only gameplay.
It was very basic team-based shooting gameplay that seemed to have more and more dlc content for sale as time went by requiring hundreds of dollars to obtain all possible items in the game. The game finally went under after two years when Ubisoft admitted they couldn’t figure out how to keep the game profitable under the free-to-play model.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Predator was the series attempt to test the waters for the PSP. The game had a decent enough story, but the overall game was very short and many players struggled with the awkward controls on the PSP that bizarrely made aiming and moving separate actions that couldn't be performed simultaneously.
It was a decent game, but it seemed more like a port that was made by someone who hadn’t played the PSP before making it. For the players that could work around the clunky controls it was a fair game, but many players couldn’t which is why this game ranks so low.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars was Ubisoft’s attempt to create a game for the Nintendo 3DS. Unlike other games that were built for the Wii, Facebook, or PSP and ultimately failed, Shadow Wars actually did it right. The game was fun, the story was alright, and the gameplay actually felt solid.
The reason it doesn’t rank higher is that being on the 3DS gave the game some limitations that made it feel more like something you’d play until you could get home and pull the console out for a real Ghost Recon experience.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier was a fun game that had a great multiplayer and a lengthy singleplayer campaign when compared to other games coming out that year. Many players loved the co-op campaign and the Guerilla game mode that had players survive wave after wave of enemies.
The only reason it doesn’t rank higher is that the game felt like it was built to attract a wider audience rather than appeal to its fan base. Much of the tactical requirements present in previous games were lacking and many felt the campaign was easier when compared to previous titles. It was a good game but it doesn’t rank higher because it took a few steps back from what made the series popular in the first place.
The game that started it all, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon was a foray into a new way to play shooting games that paid off big time. Even though the game or the subsequent series was not based on any of Tom Clancy’s books, fans loved the story that felt Clancy-esque that even eerily coincided with real world events between Georgia and Russia that occurred after the game’s release.
It had great cutscenes for it’s time and was one of the first shooters where strategy was just as important as skill. It sits at the number five spot because while it took gaming in a wonderful new direction, it was a rough start and following games were able to polish the concept making it better with each new release.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon 2 took what made the first game great and improved upon it to create a great sequel. It expanded the multiplayer with a co-op campaign and several game modes that were fun to play and have become staples of later titles. This was also the first entrance of the character Captain Scott Mitchell. It even had a story that was so relevant to political tensions at the time that it ruffled North Korea’s feathers a little.
It doesn’t sit higher on the list simply because the other games were better and not because of any major flaws the game had.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter is a futuristic take on the original Ghost Recon and was the best place for the series to go. Whether it was to give players access to better tech for gameplay purposes or to avoid stepping on any toes with their politically charged stories, the game developers took players out of 2006 and gave a look at what they considered the high tech future of 2013.
The game introduced a lot of weapons and had some incredible graphics that are even bearable when compared to today’s games. It took the foundation the first two games in the series had laid and gave it a sparkly finish.
Perhaps the last game for a while that would do things right and be an improvement upon older games, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2 kept the train rolling with a great follow up to a great game. It beefed up the squads A.I., introduced highly effective and useful drones, and gave player’s an awesome gun that shot around corners.
Players and critics alike liked the game, although some Mexican politicians had issues with the nature of the plot and portraying Mexico and some of its cities as war torn areas full of problems. Nevertheless it was a great game and would be the last bright spot of the series for nearly a decade.
After a decade of rough and poorly made games, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Widlands decided to return to its roots while simultaneously going in a bold new direction. That familiar tactical squad based shooting was brought back and the game was the first to introduce open world gameplay. Now players could tackle missions aggressively, stealthily, or a combination of the two in unique free form ways that weren’t possible in previous titles.
It was a great game with great nonlinear play that breathed life into a franchise that many saw dying a slow and painful death.