Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon

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Ghost Recon is a first-person shooter and tactical simulator series by Red Storm Entertainment and Ubisoft. Its first installment was released in 2001.

It is known by its full name "Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon". Note that Clancy's involvement in this series, as well as its Novelization, is remote but noticeable. Note that it has much in common with the similarly titled "Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six", though the two series are still very distinct in gameplay terms.

The game follows a war brewing in post-Cold War Russia in 2008. A faction called the Ultra-Nationalists perform a coup d'etat and begin invading former members of the USSR, attempting to rebuild the broken Soviet Union. More specifically, the game follows the exploits of a multinational group of soldiers, called the Ghosts, who are tasked with various missions to halt the coming Russian invasion into the Baltics and Caucasus.

Within the game, the player puts together and then controls a team of six soldiers, each with his own specialty, stats, weapon and gear. The Ghosts fight as a group: it is possible to directly control any of the characters who are still alive, at any time during a mission, but the point of the game is to learn how to control the entire team (using a surprisingly simple interface for the task).

Unlike "conventional" first-person shooters of the period, the game attempts to mimic real-world combat as faithfully as possible. Use of "smart" tactics and stealth is practically mandatory. That's because bullets kill, often with just one hit, and enemies are definitely not graduates of the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy. Covering fire, judicial use of explosives and coordinated assaults are pretty much required if you want to keep your squaddies alive more than a couple of seconds into a firefight.

This game is definitely not for players who just like running around and shooting things - combat here is something you want to avoid until you have both the element of surprise as well as a massive advantage over whomever you want to kill. That takes time, planning, observing enemies as they move around, you get the picture. Single missions can take hours to complete, even more if you don't use Save Scumming. Expect lots of Trial and Error Gameplay, although it's definitely worth it.

In addition to the combat realism, this was one of the first PC games to feature high-quality 3D sound, and was considered very advanced in terms of graphics at the time. The attention to details regarding weapon performance and other military hardware is quite worthy of the Tom Clancy prefix. There's Scenery Porn as well, especially in missions that take place in locations such as downtown Talinn, Riga, and finally Moscow. The Red Square and the GUM shopping mall across from it are portrayed with stunning accuracy.

There are several installments in the greater Ghost Recon series to date, although many are Expansion Packs in disguise.

  • The second (actual) sequel in the series was released for consoles only, and is viewed by fans of the original as a dumbed-down version of the game. It did away with most of the tactical aspects, and as a result lost much of its appeal. After poor reviews, Ubisoft decided to skip the PC market entirely with this sequel. That was probably a smart move.
  • Ubisoft then started a similar series of games called Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter. This series had two installments, and takes place many years after the first game. It raises many speculations about the kinds of equipment and tactics that may one day be employed by special forces teams. The console versions retained some of the original's tactical decisions, and used a cover system later popularized by Gears of War, while the PC version was an FPS and returned to the first games' gameplay.
  • Ghost Recon: Future Soldier picks up sometime after the events of Advanced Warfighter, and begins with a Ghost team that discovers a dirty bomb in Nicaragua. A separate group of Ghosts, Team Predator, are sent out to investigate the bomb, which leads to the discovery of a coup attempt in Russia. The game uses many of the same gameplay mechanics from Warfighter, while introducing new elements like the Gunsmith customizable weapon system. Watch the teaser trailer.
  • Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars, for the Nintendo 3DS, which utilizes RPG elements and a game system and interface similar to Advance Wars and Fire Emblem.
  • The free-to-play shooter, Ghost Recon Online, which is planned to be released sometime in 2012.
  • A portable installment, Ghost Recon: Final Mission, which is rumored to be coming out for the Playstation VITA sometime in 2012.

Tropes used in Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon include:
  • Air Vent Passageway: In the Future Soldier mission "Firefly Rain", the team travels through a room with multiple industrial fans to get to a Russian airport hangar.
  • The All-Seeing AI: Sniper-type units in GRAW are better at detecting your team, while regular foot soldiers may sometimes wait a few seconds first.
  • America Saves the Day:
    • In the Advanced Warfighter series, "Captain Mitchell Saves The Day".
    • In Future Soldier, "America Saves The Day But Lets The Russians Believe They Did It Themselves".
  • Anticlimax Boss: Most of the franchise's final bosses are simply ringleaders surrounded by a lot of bodyguards. In some cases, you might not notice them die because you were shelling the bodyguards with grenades.
  • Anyone Can Die: Much like the original Rainbow Six games. If one of your soldiers dies in the first game, they won't come back. You'll have to recruit a newbie soldier and train him. Specialists with their powerful weapon are Lost Forever. In Advanced Warfighter, soldiers are simply wounded until the end of either the current or following mission.
    • Averted in Shadow Wars where a Ghost killed is an automatic defeat condition.
    • In Advanced Warfighter, quite a few of the Ghosts you came to know in Ghost Recon 2 die, including Jennifer Burke and Nick Salvatore, though this was later Retconed in Endwar.
    • In the Future Soldier prequel Alpha, a Ghost (Chuck) is suddenly shot in the face while trying to disarm a warhead.
    • Future Soldier starts off by showing us the first-person death of Joe Ramirez, who's been with the franchise as long as main lead Captain Mitchell and was considered something of The Lancer (also killed is Richard Allen, another long-running Ghost).
  • Armor Is Useless
  • Badass Crew: The Ghosts are considered the elite of the elite in the U.S. Army. Considering all the insane odds they go through in battle, it's justified.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Richter in Shadow Wars. The manual states he likes to poke fun at younger Ghosts.
  • The Cavalry: Used many times throughout the franchise.
  • Colon Cancer
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: While still a problem, Ghost Recon and it's expansions were better at subverting it. Advanced Warfighter, on the other hand...
  • The Computer Is a Lying Bastard: Some of the weapon specifications shown in Advanced Warfighter are incorrect - stating that default assault rifle has a capacity of 60 bullets but it really has 30.
  • Continue Your Mission, Dammit!
  • Continuity Nod: Most notably in the Advanced Warfighter series, where places and events in Tom Clancy's other franchises (Rainbow Six Vegas, HAWX) are referenced.
    • The PlayStation 2 version of Ghost Recon 2 takes place in the same setting as Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory; In Chaos Theory, an American PMC secretly hijacks a North Korean missile and uses it to sink an American warship, framing North Korea and triggering a war between American and North Korean. Ghost Recon 2 focuses on fighting that actual war, while Chaos Theory is all about the real truth behind it.
    • Joe Ramirez and Richard Allen both appear in the first mission of Future Soldier, while now-Major Scott Mitchell acts as your commanding officer. In a later mission, the HAWX squadron shows up to provide air support when the team is protecting the leader of a resistance movement.
  • Cosmetic Award: In the original game (and it's expansions), your soldiers can receive campaign ribbons and Purple Hearts for taking part in missions, getting kills or getting injured.
  • Critical Existence Failure / Walk It Off: Seen in the Advanced Warfighter games; if Cpt. Mitchell is shot, he'll move slower and noticeably limp for a few moments before returning to normal condition.
    • Subverted in the original: if there was a bullet in a guy he will limp, move slower, breath heavier, have worse aim, be unable to carry his gun without it drooping, and hunch over.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Not only is an entire Ghost team killed off via a dirty bomb explosion in Future Soldier's opening mission, but you get to see the flesh on Ramirez's arms peeling off just before he falls off a cliff, in first-person!
  • Determinator / Made of Iron: Cpt. Mitchell from the Advanced Warfighter series. It becomes increasingly clear throughout both games that he (and you, by proxy) is pretty much a one-man wrecking crew. He shrugs off bullets, goes on several solo missions that involve traversing long distances and fighting squads of soldiers by himself, downs several enemy helicopters, :protects the President of the United States from overwhelming enemy forces, etc. At the end of the second game, he authorizes an EMP airstrike on himself to stop a nuclear missile in his immediate area from being launched. And he survives!
  • Elite Mooks:
    • Advanced Warfighter has the Aguila 7, the Mexican special forces leading the coup de tat. They were equipped with superior weapons (their sniper rifles in particular were a 1-hit-kill) and body armor. Advanced Warfighter 2 had PMC mercenaries hired by the rebels; being members of a PMC they had access to better arms and equipment than the rebels.
    • Future Soldier has the Bodarks ("Werewolves"), Russian elite special forces who are a match for the Ghosts themselves, including having access to the same advanced combat tech such as active camo.
    • Ghost Recon 2 has North Korean Special Forces, who use high tech Chinese weapons, fire more accurately and utilize better tactics than the rank and file DPRK grunt.
  • Empty Quiver: Multiple times.
  • Escort Mission: In Advanced Warfighter, the Quarterback mission will challenge the intelligence of the US President Ballantine. The Ready For Bear mission has you escort the pilots of a liberated Abrams brigade, who are better at taking care of themselves.
  • Exact Words: At the end of Future Soldier, the Ghosts shoot the final leader of Raven's Rock, and are about to kill him to get vengeance for the Ghosts killed in the opening mission, but are suddenly stopped by orders from "the highest level" not to harm him (the implication being that Command wants the guy to survive due to his political clout). Instead, the Ghosts leave the wounded guy on a train track to be run over by an incoming train; as he demands they save him and take him into custody, Ghost Lead quips "our orders were not to touch you" as the guy is run over. It's all very Batman Begins.
  • First Person Ghost
  • Friendly Enemy: The Ghosts have ended up cooperating with countries such as Georgia (who were the Big Bad of the first Splinter Cell), moderate factions in Russia, and Pakistan. In fact it's entirely possible that some of the Georgia special forces you're sent to help in one mission of Future Soldier were among the Elite Mooks shooting at Sam Fisher in the final mission of Splinter Cell.
  • Gatling Good
  • Giant Space Flea From Nowhere: In Future Soldier, the leaders of Raven's Rock aren't mentioned by name until the very final level, where you're tasked with assassinating them. The final leader in particular gets an extended final confrontation cutscene despite us having never even heard of the schmuck until a few minutes before that.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: Because the missions taken by the Ghosts are beyond top secret (and many of their missions would outright constitute an act of war), the government can never acknowledge that they ever took place. In both GRAW and Future Soldier, all the actions taken by the Ghosts are officially credited to American-backed factions inside the Enemy Nation of the Week.
    • This was averted in the Xbox version of Ghost Recon 2, where the Ghost's missions in the 2011 Korean War have been declassified and the story is presented through a Show Within a Show interviewing the Ghosts and some of their foreign comrades.
  • Gunship Rescue: In the Plaza del Angel mission, where, after several minutes of increasingly hostile engagement, your squad and the dignitaries under your care (as well as the "nuclear football") are saved at the last second from a tank brigade by the arrival of US gunships.
    • Similarly, the mission to extract a reporter from a bullfighting arena in GRAW 2 has the Ghosts fighting off waves of attacking soldiers. When two tanks show up, the Ghosts call for air support and are saved by Apache gunships.
  • Hold the Line
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: Rookie, Veteran, and Elite in Shadow Wars. The higher the difficulty of the mission, the more stars you get afterwards, which you can use to level up your squad members.
  • Invisible Wall: Classic kind in Ghost Recon, Game Over kind in Advanced Warfighter.
  • Interface Screw: A slight blur, done several times during the Advanced Warfighter series. However, you won't be able to use the compass or have enemies marked on your hud.
  • It's Up to You: In Advanced Warfighter, getting killed causes the general to order retreat to all units.
  • Japanese Commando is Not Hardcore: The Japanese and American boxart for Ghost Recon: Jungle Storm portrays two very, very different games. But this time, the American "hardcore" version is the accurate one.
  • Landmarking the Hidden Base: In Advanced Warfighter 2, a massive computer system linked to the United States' anti-ballistic missile mainframe is hidden under a dam in El Paso, Texas.
  • Large Ham: General Keating.
  • Late Arrival Spoiler: Scott Mitchell's appearance in Future Soldier spoils the uncertainty after his Heroic Sacrifice at the end of Advanced Warfighter 2.
  • Limit Break: In Shadow Wars the soldiers (even the Mooks under your command) can use a special attack if their meter reach 100%.
  • Make the Bear Angry Again
  • The Medic
  • Mexicans With Machine Guns
  • Monumental Battle:
    • Advanced Warfighter, mission Coup d'état has a minor battle in Zócalo Plaza with infantry. The mission Fierce Resistance doesn't, as approaching the plaza causes you to be ordered to do something else, but you do get two tanks used to clean up the mess at the end of the mission.
    • Advanced Warfighter, mission VIP 2 is Down (the Plaza del Angel/Mexican Presidential Palace), in which you must protect the President of the United States, several dignitaries and the U.S. "nuclear football" from an onslaught of enemy soldiers and armor. Redux in mission NORAD on the line
  • More Dakka: The OICW's grenade launcher is semi-automatic, with 6 grenades per magazine. A Ghost Recon expansion has a 12-round grenade launcher, but you need a secondary weapon if you run out of grenades.
  • Nintendo Hard
  • No One Gets Left Behind
  • Notice This: A staple of GRAW; the game will often alert you when it is possible to place C4 explosives.
    • In Shadow Wars, doors you can open have a big floating key next to them, and areas you should notice are highlighted with a green circle. Pickups also glow.
  • One Bullet Clips
  • Painting the Medium: Much like Splinter Cell: Conviction, the names of locations and quest objectives are overlaid into walls and the sky in some missions.
  • Post Climax Confrontation: In Advanced Warfighter 2, you fight the rebel leader in a helicopter gunship duel towards the end of the game. After killing him and recovering the nuke he stole, you learn that despite the rebel leader's death, the PMC he hired is still planning to launch missiles into the United States from the Mexican border. You then deploy to stop the PMC from launching their missiles for the game's final mission.
  • President Evil: Dmitri Arbatov (the original game), General Jung (Ghost Recon 2)
  • Private Military Contractors: The eventual big bad of GRAW 2., and also the Mooks in the Nigeria mission of Future Soldier.
  • Product Placement: In Future Soldier, while in a Nigerian village, there is a wall with nothing on it but a large UnderArmor poster right behind an ammo cache, directly in the player's line of sight in normal gameplay. There is no explanation as to why there is an ad for an American sports clothing brand in the middle of a third-world backwater.
  • Rare Guns: OICW and the PP-19 Bizon in Ghost Recon series. The FN SCAR series of rifles and the XM8 in the Advanced Warfighter series.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Many complaints exist about Advanced Warfighter and Future Soldier having the technology and being able to call in drones/artillery/airstrikes to attack targets are unrealistic and merely props to aid newbie players. Little do they know that all the technology seen in the Ghost Recon games either exists, in prototype stage or on the drawing board. (Not to mention that the original Ghost Recon had a fair bit of its share too...OICW anyone?)
  • Regenerating Health: Added in Future Soldier. Like Rainbow Six Vegas, you can survive less hits than, say, Halo, and health regenerates slower than average, but it's still reasonably quick.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: President Ballatine in GRAW and President Volodin in Future Soldier actually turn out to be surprisingly competent combatants. Ghost Command even informs Kozak (who's concerned about extracting a VIP without any backup) that Volodin is ex-military and will be able to hold his own once rescued. Although it's not quite Authority Equals Asskicking as the older Volodin, while competent, is clearly no longer in full fighting trim, especially after being held captive in poor conditions for many days. Ballatine, meanwhile, sometimes turns into a Leeroy Jenkins despite being unarmored and armed only with a pistol.
  • Save Point: In later games, whenever you complete an objective. It's sometimes with a ~1 minute walk from the action. If you resupply from a chopper, it saves the game after you resupply, when it is taking off (so tough luck to you if it turns out you picked the wrong loadout for the next area, because you're stuck with it).
  • Shown Their Work: One of the reasons GRAW is so popular in Mexico, especially among Mexico City gamers, is its attention to detail to the city's famous landmarks and locales. Even if you blow the crap out of them in some way or another.
  • South of the Border: Both Advanced Warfighter games mostly take place in Mexico.
  • Stay Frosty: Said frequently in Advanced Warfighter.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Long-time ghosts Ramirez and Allen in Future Soldier's opening mission.
  • Tactical Shooter: The first games in the series played just like Rainbow Six, albeit more focused on wide-open areas.
  • Team Mom: Saffron in Shadow Wars. The manual even outright states it. Richter even calls her "Mom" sometimes.
  • Technology Porn
  • Turn Based Tactics: Shadow Wars.
  • Twenty Minutes Into the Future: The setting for all of the games.
  • Unfunny Aneurysm Moment: The opening scenario in the original game (a team of elite operatives go into Georgia to deal with Russian invasion forces backed by ultra-nationalists... in the far-off date of 2008) becomes even more disturbing once you consider the Russian invasion of Georgia - which also happened in 2008.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment: Prevalent up to Advanced Warfighter. In that game, you could collect one magazine from the enemy's weapons, and couldn't even use their fixed emplacements. Advanced Warfighter 2 allowed you to claim an enemy machine gun nest, possibly collect equipment.
  • Unwinnable By Mistake: The Steam version of Advanced Warfighter has the player fall through the terrain during a mandatory cutscene.
  • Urban Warfare: Ghost Recon has a few urban missions, but GRAW and its sequel deal with this exclusively.
  • We Cannot Go on Without You: Averted in the earlier entries, played straight in later installments. In the original game, you could get all of your named specialists killed (just like the original Rainbow Six), and you would be stuck playing with Red Shirt troops for the rest of the game. In the Advanced Warfighter and Future Soldier games, the mission will end if the player character or one of their squadmates dies.
  • Wretched Hive: If the events of the Advanced Warfighter series are anything to go by, Mexico is pretty much a hellhole of massive proportions (especially the city of Juarez, which sees more violence, plane crashes, gunbattles and deaths in two days than most other cities in the world see in a year). It isn't that far from real life...