in May of 2001, I saw my first preview of what was to be the
greatness of Ghost Recon. I picked up that month's issue of
"GamePro" magazine and lo, there it was. Those tantalizing
screenshots (which, by the way, actually show the names of
the first 7 maps in the game) gave us our first glimpses of
the game in action. Some things, notably the interface, changed
from that early beta version that the magazine had access
Another tease that we were given was a series
of rendered screenshots of vehicles, with a caption that promised,
"Not only will you collaborate with international troops,
but you'll also receive support from a number of their ground
and air vehicles." Two of those images were of an RAH-66
Comanche and an Mi24 Hind. The thought of being attacked or
supported by either of those beautiful aircraft certainly
intrigued me. I was looking forward to the idea of calling
for support and seeing enemy tank turrets fly as they were
struck by Hellfire missiles and seeing infantry scurry away
from the hail of lead from a 30mm chaingun.
Where were the helicopters?
As the months wore on and Ghost Recon's
release loomed on the horizon, I grew uneasy as more and more
information came out about the game, yet there was little
mention of how vehicles would be implemented. I chalked it
up to secrecy on the part of Red Storm. When the game came
out, I was on a business trip. I drove 45 minutes to the nearest
mall, picked up a copy and loaded it on the laptop. I stayed
up half the night playing.
I was pleased to see the tanks and other
vehicles made it into the game's final release, yet where
were the helicopters? There were none to be found. I checked
the manual and saw nothing about them. A bit disappointed,
I continued playing anyway and was quite pleased with the
Then I started using Igor to make mods and
I found a little surprise.
Igor has several handy little editors built
in for different parts of the game. One of them is the Vehicle
Editor. While exploring Igor one day, I discovered that you
can make new vehicles, assuming that you have 3d models for
them. In the Vehicle Editor, there is a pull-down menu that
lets you choose what type of vehicle you are making. There
are tanks, APCs, etc. Much to my surprise, at the bottom of
the list I found an entry for 'Helicopter'. "What's this?
They have code in the game for aircraft? Where are they?"
I wondered. I played with the vehicle type some and it seems
that the code is either partial, or there are certain conventions
that need to be worked out in order to use the vehicle type
in-game. But I started thinking about it.
Helicopters - Found!
After my discovery, helicopters slipped
my mind as I started working on mods and other projects, like
beta testing Mike Schell's new character utility. Soon, however,
I made another discovery. For those of you that have done
any modding of Ghost Recon or that have explored the game
files at all, you will have noted that there are some things
that probably were not meant to be released available in the
game folders. While looking through the game folders one day,
I made another discovery. Somebody at Red Storm forgot to
take out some unused textures. Mixed in with the texture for
the downed Seahawk helicopter and the other vehicles, I found
textures for an undamaged Seahawk
helicopter and an RAH-66 Comanche,
just like in the GamePro article! Also present are a series
of five rotor images for a
Hind helicopter, perfect for animating a moving
The textures that are shipped with Ghost
Recon, but not actually in the game can be found in the textures
folder of the Origmiss folder, and are
- iv_hind_prop01.rsb through to 04.rsb
1) The renders of the helicopters in the
GamePro article back in May 2001 are of a Comanche and a Hind
2) The helicopter vehicle code is still
in the game. Tinkering with it, I was able to make an aircraft
fly with Igor.
3) The multiple rotor textures in
motion, probably for animating the thing in-game. Although
it *could* be argued that they were for a static helicopter
that was supposed to sit on the ground with its engine/rotors
running during a mission.
So, what happened to the helicopters? That
is a question that many of us would like an answer to. Perhaps
time was getting short and, rather than delay release because
of a feature that was not fully implemented, Red Storm decided
to cut them altogether. Perhaps there were technical hurdles
that just could not be overcome when trying to do a realistic
helicopter in a first person tactical shooter. Perhaps we
will never know. I, for one, hope that they make it into the
upcoming expansion pack. In the meantime, I hope that some
mod-maker will tinker with the code and figure it out, much
like the unused claymore mine code in Rogue Spear that eventually
was exploited for several mods.