Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon franchise has been around for more than a decade. While the brand has gone through enhancements over the years, its identity of being a tactical, squad-based third-person shooter is still the same.
After the last release of the series five years ago, I was eager to see how far the developers of Ghost Recon: Wildlands have gone to move this franchise ahead.
For starters, there are the avatar customisation features that veterans of the game will appreciate.
Player-characters can now enjoy a wide selection of faces, outfits and accessories to make their appearance unique, including choice of gender.
Most of these items offer a variety of design and colour options so you can keep on updating for a refreshed look. While the absence of body-mass sizing and age definition crimps its potential, you can still put together a decent personality.
Mission locations are connected in one huge map, instead of being confined to smaller areas.
PRICE: From $76.90 (PS4, version tested; Xbox One), $69.90 (PC)
In past releases, you cannot drive vehicles, and every mission starts from a spawn point.
In Wildlands, however, you can commandeer cars, jeeps, minibuses, bikes, helicopters, planes and other modes of transportation to move around.
You can also "fast travel", or teleport, to specific locations. But you can do so only with locations that you have discovered.
Set in a fictional landscape based on Bolivia, the main plot focuses on wiping out a drug cartel and its network of operations, each headed by mini-bosses. You also need to negotiate encounters with a paramilitary organisation as well as resistance groups.
The map is marked with interactive items that contribute to the back story, as well as collectible items that unlock ability upgrades or special weaponry. There are 21 provinces to conquer, each measured by difficulty level. Having the freedom to decide whether to hit the Trafficking, Smuggling, Security or Influence arms of the cartel in any order is empowering.
Earned skill points can be used to upgrade the player's skill tree. This is where you improve your stamina, injury recovery, stable aim as well as accompanying gadgets. I recommend enhancing your drone as early as possible, as this will come in handy during reconnaissance activities.
Ghost Recon has always been a team-based game, and Wildlands continues that tradition.
On solo, three AI teammates will assist you. They are not perfect, but are fairly reliable.
However, it's more fun doing this with your pals online. There is a catch, though. The game will remove all your other AI teammates even if only one human player joins in. This reduced firepower may be detrimental to your strategy, so it's wiser to recruit enough friends before launching missions. Your team of four can also choose to explore the many photo-worthy spots throughout the map, and sharing screenshots of those spots online has been a highlight for many.
Those looking to be productive when not playing the game can fire up a mobile app that farms resources for the main game. There is also a clan-like Ghost Recon Network that allows you to create a taskforce with friends.
I did not encounter any connection problems during my review. Nevertheless, the game wasn't entirely free from glitches. So I hope the community will keep giving its feedback to the developer, so that the game will become glitch-free and continue to improve.
If you're an avid player of Tom Clancy's shooter games by Ubisoft, there is no reason not to have a soft spot for this one.
•Verdict: Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Wildlands offers great value with many hours of gameplay exploration and cooperative teamwork.
•Nizam Mohd is a freelance writer