Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars Review (3DS)
Chances are you’ve probably heard of the Ghost Recon franchise. It’s a series from Ubisoft that has traditionally been a third person style shooter game that dealt with elite soldiers on a mission to take down other soldiers and governments who were trying to take power. Well the Ghosts are back, but the adventure this time will be a little bit different than anything you’ve played before.
What You Need To Know
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars is a turn based strategy game set in the same universe as the popular shooter franchise. Russian Ultranationalists are plotting to overthrow the government and it’s up to the titular elite squadron of fighters to take them down. You’ll take command of a small group of soldiers, each with their own unique abilities. As you progress you’ll gain new equipment and experience that will better aid you in your fight for freedom. There are nearly 40 story missions, extra bonus missions and even local multi-player to keep you involved with the game for hours on end.
Being a turn based strategy game Shadow Wars really needs to have a solid strategic element to it and it delivers on that promise. Early on in the game you’re slowly introduced to the members of the squad and you’ll participate in missions that are best suited to those individual’s talents. It’s a great, perfectly paced introduction to the world, the rules and the game as a whole. It slowly builds up until you’re in command of the entire squad taking on hordes of nameless enemies.
If you’re a fan of games like Advance Wars or Fire Emblem then you know exactly what to expect. The battlefield is presented in a third person, isometric view. Each of your squad members has their own weaponry and abilities that you’ll utilize throughout the single player campaign. Each army will take turns moving their units and reacting to their opponents. Understanding each of your unit’s abilities and using them in combination with the other members is key to victory.
The battlefield is very easy to navigate. The d-pad controls all of your movement and selection. You can rotate the camera around using the analog stick and you have some freedom over how far away from the battlefield you’re zoomed. In addition to the standard mission objectives there are control points that you can capture that will give you extra army wide abilities to help in the fight. Things like giving your squad members extra turns or even calling in air strikes is very satisfying, especially when it helps to save a squad mate from certain death.
The story of Shadow Wars is nothing to write home about. You’ve heard it before. Russian baddies are plotting to take over the world. Conspiracies run rampant and it’s up to the Ghosts to stop them. It’s a bit cliched, but it doesn’t get in the way.
The Ghost Recon team, however, I found I really liked. There are six members that you’ll use most of the time, though sometimes you’ll be added by rebels with a cause. The members included people like Banshee who wears a cloaking type suit that makes her immune to ranged attacks. , your medic, can heal you from the hail of bullets you’re sure to receive. Haze is your sniper and Richter carries around a chain gun that can do massive damage. You also have Mint, the engineer, who can deploy a turret that essentially acts as a stationary member of the unit with a rather powerful machine gun.
When you begin each mission in the game you’re given the option to choose from three different difficulty levels. These different levels have more or less command points that can be earned based on how difficult you make the missions. These command points are then used after the battle to upgrade your squad. You’ll earn things like more weapon selections, upgraded health, better armor and more. Finding the right balance with these upgrades will make or break how well your units perform.
More to Do After the Fact
As you progress through the single player story you unlock bonus missions that you can complete to upgrade your team even more. These missions take place outside of the main story, but you can play them at any point after they’ve been unlocked and any upgrades earned in these will carry over to the single player game. If you’re finding the story to be a bit hard then head out and play some of these missions to earn some much needed upgrades.
There is multi-player in the form of a pass and play system where each of you takes turns using the same system to move units around in multi-player competitive missions. While it can be fun to beat up on a friend the lack of a real online multi-player mode is disappointing. Other games in the genre have done it and it didn’t really take away from the game and it gives you even more options for finding opponents when you want someone a little more challenging to face.
Difficulty Can Be Uneven
For the most part I found the game to be very easy to get through on the medium difficulty level. There were, however, some fairly significant difficulty spikes to be found. A couple of times I found that I would have no problem finishing one mission only to have to replay the next mission four or five times before really being able to get through it. Sometimes, this was of my own fault, but other times it just seemed like the missions were much more difficult than the previous one, only to be followed by another mission that I was able to breeze through. It didn’t really detract from the game, but it was frustrating none the less.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars is a very solid entry in the RTS genre. The game doesn’t throw so many units at you that you can’t keep up. It does a very solid job of introducing you to the game and letting you get familiar with units before adding more into the mix. In reality there’s very little bad that I could find with this game. The few problems I had weren’t really anything that hampered the game, only things that would have been good bonuses to make the game even better. If you’re a fan of turn based strategy games you owe it to yourself to pick this up. If you’re a 3DS owner looking for something to play then this is one of the best games to be had on the system right now.
Final Score: 4/5 Above Average
Review copy of the game provided by Ubisoft.
Played through the campaign in its entirety, sampled more than half a dozen bonus missions and a couple multi-player offerings.
Total Play Time: 32 hours