Desert Siege Review
By:Rocky
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Published : 24th March 2002
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Introduction
Click for Full Image When the Desert Siege Preview build arrived at GhostRecon.net a few weeks ago you can imagine our disappointment to discover it was limited to only two playable missions (even though they were great!). You can probably understand our delight when this week we got our hands on the latest pre-gold review version, with every mission in the campaign accessible!

Installation
Click for Full Image Once you have Desert Siege installed, remember to put your original Ghost Recon disk somewhere safe - you are not going to need it again. Desert Siege patches the original install to v1.2.0.0, which requires your new Desert Siege disk in the drive to play. Even if you try to launch your original Ghost Recon installation - you will need to have the Desert Siege disk in the drive.

Once GR-DS has loaded, you can select to play either the original or the Desert Siege games from the campaign menu. If for some reason you do not want DS running, it's a simple case of deactivating it from the Mods menu.


Mission One
Click for Full Image Even though we had played through the first beach assault mission from the preview build, it's a great mission with good replay value. Now enhanced by the eerie light of a full moon and star speckled sky, this is one of the most atmospheric Ghost Recon missions yet. As the Ghosts run for cover from the waves as they lap around their boots, and switch their NVGs on to scan the beach area the atmosphere is awesome.

Mission Two
Click for Full Image In the second mission at the oil refinery the work the design team have put into immersing the player into the mission is continued as glass shatters, steam hisses around the player and explosions rock the plant. The refinery has also been enhanced since the preview build, and is now a complex battlefield of walkways and pipes towering high into the sky. Careless progress through this mission will result in disaster as the plant is ripped apart by the enemy explosives team, creating some nice, realistic explosion effects. As the Ghosts head out of the refinery an enemy jeep pulls up, only to be quickly despatched thanks to some heavy support fire from the Ghosts. Use of enemy vehicles is a welcome addition to the series, adding a new, fast approaching threat - and a cool target for the heavy weapons!

Mission Three
Click for Full Image Mission three is a pressure mission. In order to complete the special objective that will release a Specialist into the ranks of the Ghosts, the player must quickly command the Ghosts to secure some intelligence papers. If the papers are rushed out of the area by the enemy, the team lose out on the chance to add a highly skilled member to their ranks. In Desert Siege there is one brand new Specialist, the remainder will be familiar to anyone who has played through the original campaign.

Mission Four
Click for Full Image Protection is the name of the game in mission four. A convoy of relief trucks must be safely escorted through a long and winding canyon. This makes for a refreshing change from the wide open expanses of the other maps. Although progress is initially fairly linear as progress is made along the canyon, it is quickly made clear that the Ghosts must make for the high ground up the cliffs in order to take care of the grenade throwing enemy watching from high above the canyon floor.

Mission Five

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Mission five tasks the Ghosts with destroying the remains of an Aurora Spy Plane scattered across the desert. This mission takes place at night and with no moonlight it's dark, very dark - the NVGs will be on for the whole of this mission!

Successfully completing this mission releases the single new specialist into the Ghosts - Jodit Haile, which was a little strange in this Review version. She is a listed as a Rifleman, but carries a Support weapon - the PKM. The other debate is whether or not Jodit is a guy or gal, what do you think?


Final Missions

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The remaining 3 missions continue to add a good variety of mission, and I won't spoil the surprise by detailing here. There is good variety in each mission, and they all look great.

Although the final mission looks tricky on paper, with a tank column to destroy and hardened enemy forces to eliminate, I found it a little straightforward. It has an unfortunately instinctive shortcut, that sees the mission completed while only travelling about 150 metres, perhaps this has been tweaked in the Gold version.

Infact it's worth mentioning that anyone who has played right through the original campaign would be well advised to attempt Desert Siege on one of the harder difficulty settings to present more of a challenge.

To summerise, it's a great campaign, with varied missions and challenges, that should not disappoint the Ghost Recon faithfull.

Visuals and Sounds

The moody fog covered maps of the original campaign may have been atmospheric, but it is the sun soaked crystal clear maps in Desert Siege that really show Ghost Recon in its best light. Ghost Recon has never looked, or sounded so good. The sounds totally immerse the player in the mission, right from the very first second of the very first mission as the ocean waves break around the Ghosts as they invade the beach. It is very clear that this is not just a mission pack - this is a finely tuned expansion with many audio and visual enhancements.

Multiplayer

New multiplayer features include two new multiplayer game modes, 4 new maps and a Leaderboard display.

The in-play leaderboard is activated by a keystroke. When the keystroke is released, the leaderboard closes. In team play, it shows teams sorted by score. Teams are sorted by place. In solo mode, listing is by individual score. If there is a timed component to play, the leaderboard also displays the current time remaining.

Domination is one of the new Game modes. The focus of Domination gameplay is on controlling territory. Points are scored per second when a player enters and controls a zone. Players move through the map in an attempt to locate and own control zones. The zones are visible on the Command Map and are numbered. They are identifiable in the action screen by columns of colored smoke. This leads to some intense strategy as teams decide to either dig and dominate one zone, or move out and try to dominate more than one zone and increase points. When a team takes a new zone, a message is relayed to all teams.

The second new game is Siege. Basic gameplay consists of one team defending a “base,” which is demarcated by coloured smoke, while the other team or teams try to seize it. A base is considered seized if a team has a live soldier present in the “capture zone” at the heart of the enemy’s base for 5 seconds. At the start of the game a text message informs the player as to which team he is on, and the appropriate objective (“Attack the base” or “Defend the base”) displays. If the game duration ends with the base not taken, the defending team wins. If the base is taken, the team seizing the base wins.

Weapons

There are nine new weapons available during multiplayer battles in Desert Siege.

  • Groza: Russian bullpup assault rifle design. Includes an underbarrel GP25 40mm grenade launcher.
  • Bizon 9mm: Russian submachine gun.
  • AN-94: Russian assault rifle design, slated to replace the AK74.
  • A-91: Russian compact assault rifle design.
  • M60: American machine gun.
  • FN-FAL Para Variant: Belgian assault rifle manufactured by Fabrique Nationale. The Para variant is a slightly shorter and lighter version of the assault rifle designed for use by paratroops.
  • H&K PSG-1: Sniper rifle manufactured by Heckler and Koch.
  • Barrett M98: American rifle manufactured by Barrett.
  • PKM: The PKM is Russian machine gun. This is the new Specialists weapon.

Extras

As if all that is not enough - Ubi Soft is also shipping modding tools with Desert Siege. Combined with the semi-official support they are now offering modders through the community fansites an already vibrant mod community is about to explode with new missions, weapons - and maps - on a weekly if not daily basis! The Modding kit includes :

  • 3dStudio MAX editor plugins - For MAX version 3.x. Used to tag and export geometry for objects/maps as well as a plugin to be able to read RSB textures in MAX
  • RSB Editor – Stand-alone application used to give textures attributes used by the game
  • Lighting Tool - Stand alone application used to light levels
  • Over 50+ pages of documentation on how to use the tools.
  • Sample source files

Summary

Other improvements comes courtesy of the 1.2 patch which not only provides compatibility with non-desert siege installations for online play, but also addresses issues identified from the original Ghost Recon. These small fixes (such as map glitches) come from the close involvement some of the design team have with the community - notably Greg Stelmack and Jeff Wesevich who are ever present on more than just the official Ghost Recon forum.

Desert Siege is more than worthy, and it's not just us who think so - check any of the other Reviews that have appeared over the last week; superb visuals that stand apart from the original campaign, enhanced audio effects, and engrossing missions. On top of that modding tools for the creative gamer, and new games for the online gamer there really is something for everybody.

Rocky


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