Game rating: 4.25 out of 5
Ghost Recon Shadow Wars is very different from the traditional third-person shooter in home console Ghost Recon game releases. It still keeps to its tactical group side, however, and offers an engrossing experience on the Nintendo 3DS. The best things Ghost Recon Shadow Wars offers is a lengthy and solitary strategy experience, utilizing the added 3D perspective for some nice effects. While this isn’t a showcase Nintendo 3DS game for pushing unique features of the 3DS system besides 3D, it is probably among the most core-gamer offerings on the platform. Fans of turn-based strategy games should not miss out on Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Shadow Wars, which has easily become my favorite game among the current Nintendo 3DS library.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Shadow Wars review
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Shadow Wars drops players into the middle of a heated political upheaval in Russia. The Cold War reawakens when a Russian ultranationalist threatens the Ukraine, Europe, and humankind. The plot slowly unravels a destructive new high-tech drone army is rolling out. A team of six Ghosts are called in to prevent turmoil from erupting and silence Soviet “Dead Hand” bases from reawakening. Ghost Recon Shadow Wars is a turn-based strategy game where players will need to build character experience and execute the best tactical takedowns in various stages of combat. It’s an unexpected surprise in the Ghost Recon game series, especially for fans of strategy games.
Ghost Recon Shadow Wars offers three modes of difficulty (Rookie, Veteran and Elite). The Persistent Elite Creation (PEC) and Ranking system advances the capabilities of the Ghost Recon team. Playing at a higher level of difficulty will allow players to reap the most rewards and overall rank advancement. At the heart of Ghost Recon Shadow Wars is the single-player Campaign mission. This is where players will easily spend at least 30 hours of gratifying gameplay. In addition to the single-player campaign, single-player Skirmish Missions and dual player versus Multiplayer Missions extended the gameplay. Skirmish and Multiplayer Missions are unlocked as the player advances in rank. The Multiplayer Missions are local multiplayer matches on the same 3DS, not online or against another 3DS player. One of the downsides, but definitely not a reason to miss out on playing Ghost Recon Shadow Wars.
The squad of six Ghosts and their classes include Duke (Commando), Haze (Sniper), Richter (Gunner), Saffron (Medic), Banshee (Recon) and Mint (Engineer). Some missions call for a limited selection of characters, such as three total. My favorite character choice was Banshee, thanks to her cloaking ability, range of movement and powerful one-hit knife attacks. The long range shot of Haze’s sniper attacks were always useful as well. Prior to each mission, Ghosts can be equipped with a primary weapon, secondary weapon and armor type. All have different effects on damage and movement distance, so this plays into the gameplay strategy as well. I rarely switched equipment around and sometimes easily forgot to change it up in the earlier sessions of the game (because the small “Equipment” button indicator on the squad selection screen). As players progress in the game, PEC Points can be distributed to characters to level up and unlock more gear. Enemies include foot soldiers, remote drones, and tanks. There really aren’t any large scale “boss” type characters to contend with.
Environments are varied and different terrain provides tactical advantage. Hiding in buildings and trees provides added protection against enemy fire. Taking cover behind walls provides defensive advantages as well. Players can scan the 3D playfield and plan their movements by their line of fire (or the enemy’s line of fire!). Many levels have flag points, which can be captured to collect Command Points. These allow for powerful attacks, such as a additional turns or strafing the enemy with drones. Scenarios can take place in small villages, docks, and underground bases. The 3D depth effect really provides a nice multilayered touch to the terrain. There are some moments where the 3D depth and effects stand out. These include rain and smoke effects. Explosions don’t look like they have nearly as much depth, however. I was hoping for more unique instances of the 3D, but the highlight is clearly in the 3D terrain and layered interface presentation. Cutscene presentations are fairly mixed, with some looking better than others. The overall look of characters and cutscenes are illustrated with a bit of animation, while the gameplay view is interchangeable from top-down to isometric (best view). There were a few electronic music tracks which caught my attention throughout the game. Most of the time, the soundtrack is a subtle backdrop to the strategy thinking. Gattling gun effects and high powered rifle shots added a sweet punch to the character animations.
Ubisoft didn’t utilize the unique features of the Nintendo 3DS outside of the 3D presentation, something that hurts its replay value a bit – no online multiplayer, DS Download Play or StreetPass features. That said, I found Ghost Recon Shadow Wars extremely satisfying for its long, and addictive, single-player campaign. Completionist looking for the highest Rank and unlocking all Skirmish and Multiplayer Missions will get the top value offered from Ghost Recon Shadow Wars. I was skeptical of the strategy presentation, but in the end pleasantly surprised. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Shadow Wars has become among my favorites among the Nintendo 3DS game launch offerings, and it is just a memorable game overall.