||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!
||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 v126.96.36.199,
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.
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
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
||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 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
||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
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?
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
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.
New multiplayer features include
two new multiplayer game modes, 4 new maps and a Leaderboard
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 enemys 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
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.
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
- 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
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.