Ghost Recon Commander review

Ghost Recon Commander is a new strategic military combat title published by Ubisoft and developed by Loot Drop. The game cross-promotes with the upcoming console game Ghost Recon Future Soldier by using Ubisoft’s proprietary cross-platform Uplay network — progress in Commander unlocks content in Future Soldier and vice-versa.

Ghost Recon Commander casts players in the role of one of the titular “Ghosts” — special forces soldiers sent on black operations around the world. Upon starting the game for the first time, the player may pick one of three character types, which will affect their avatar’s specialisms and the bonuses they provide to the rest of their squad. Following this, a brief tutorial introduces players to moving around, shooting enemies and constructing items at “base camp,” each of which provides a small bonus to the player’s abilities. Players are then able to recruit friends to their squad — this increases their ammunition-carrying capacity and also provides temporary bonuses to abilities so long as the squad sticks together during a mission, though it costs soft currency to hire friends. “Fake friends” are provided for solo players to make use of, though their capabilities are significantly lower than real friends who have made some progress and purchased equipment for their Ghosts.

The ten missions in Ghost Recon each have a number of objectives that involve killing specific enemies, locating special items and escorting hostages to a safe place. Controlling the player’s squad is a simple matter of clicking to move and clicking on enemies to attack them, which will expend ammunition. Various items of purchasable equipment affect the amount of damage players do with their weapons and the maximum range at which they can attack an enemy, and the interface makes it very clear what effect these items have, with prominent “aim lines” and floating damage numbers displaying the results of the squad’s actions. Upon completion of a mission, players are given a score according to how quickly and effectively they completed their objectives. A leaderboard system is not yet implemented, but the interface suggests that this is coming soon.

Loot Drop describes Ghost Recon Commander as a “hidden turn-based game.” What this actually means is that the player can move their squad of soldiers freely as in a real-time strategy game, but enemy characters will not move around and attack the player independently unless the player is also taking actions. This means in theory that it’s possible to “pause” the game to consider the best strategy for approaching a heavily-fortified position. In practice, however, this facility is more commonly used to let the limited health and ammunition resources regenerate, since it’s rare to encounter enemies in large enough numbers to warrant the formulation of an in-depth strategy.

The game is well-presented, with visuals that are clear and functional (if not overly impressive), and atmospheric sound and music. It has the potential — and, clearly, the ambition — to provide a highly-immersive experience which core gamers will find appealing, but certain elements of the game’s execution stand in the way of the game achieving this goal. For starters, while the “hidden turn-based” system is very player-friendly, it removes a lot of the sense of tension from the game. The core Ghost Recon series on computer and console features a lot of sneaking around and not being spotted; with the system in place here, it’s possible to stand right in front of an enemy and not be attacked until you move again. This problem is further compounded when it becomes necessary to stand around doing nothing for minutes at a time in order to let the ammunition resource regenerate — bringing friends along ups the player’s ammo limit, but after the first couple of missions it’s rare to be able to get through a whole level on a single “clip.”