Island Thunder Review

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Island Thunder is the second expansion pack for Ghost Recon, released 6 months after the extremely popular first expansion, Desert Siege.

So what's new in Island Thunder? Here's a quick data blast before we take a look at each aspect in detail. There are 8 new maps in a new Cuba based campaign and 5 new multiplayer maps. There are 12 new weapons, some of which are available in the campaign, the majority are for multiplayer games. New game modes included Defend and Cat and Mouse.

The plot entails an unstable Cuba as the Cuban elections are placed in jeopardy by rebels and drug baron Priego. The Ghosts are sent in to destabilise the drug barons operations and ensure the elections go ahead as planned. In fact in one of the trickier missions you'll have to defend the voting centre from a full on rebel assault.. more on that later!

  Installing Island Thunder patches Ghost Recon to version, and installs in a new mp2 folder in the Ghost Recon directory. This will use up over 500Mb of space, that's 100Mb more than Desert Siege uses, probably due to the additional eye candy Island Thunder offers through the neat mission intro's.

The Campaign

Before the campaign kicks off we are treated to the best Ghost Recon intro movie seen to date. As choppy seas move convincingly below a rain splattered chopper and boat insertions are shown. After demount the Ghosts are seen moving through the Jungle with shards of light cutting through the jungle canopy lighting up their camo smeared faces. It's a great intro that absolutely has you chomping at the bit to get stuck into the first mission. Boating on the open ocean and seas can be a thrilling adventure. If you were to do head out to sea you might want to check out viking yachts for sale. These yachts can handle the rough seas that are sometimes experienced.

In that first mission, Watchman Yeoman, you are tasked with securing a Guerilla run plantation. Thinking these rebels would not be much in the way of a challenge for the Ghosts I was foolhardy enough to send in a single team of two riflemen, with a sniper as backup. The two Ghosts quickly found out these Guerilla's were not for giving up without a massive battle, and we had to retreat into one of the small cabins as soon as we stormed the perimeter of the plantation!

Quickly switching to the sniper I manoeuvred him to a vantage point overlooking the cabin, just in time to see no less than 5 of the Guerillas readying themselves to storm into the cabin! Taking up a prone position with trees and foliage offering some protection, I took out every one of those bandits before they got a sniff at the riflemen. It was neat to watch them on the porch of the cabin frantically trying to figure out where the sniper was perched, as one by one their bandit buddies were dropping to the deck.

It was apparent from this very first mission that Island Thunder seemed just a little more of a challenge than Desert Siege, indeed some of the missions were extremely hard work even on the default difficulty setting.

Ocean Force was one mission that tested the Ghosts to the max. This is the penultimate mission (and was actually far more taxing than the final mission) and saw wave after wave of rebel running at the Ghosts. Using palm trees for protection and making effective use of grenades, these rebels were not out for a calm relaxing day at the beach, far from it!

Another mission I liked was mission 3 - Jaguar Maze. This was the first mission where splitting the teams up and using the command map to issue instructions really came into its own. A downed air crew were stranded in rebel infected region awaiting rescue, but there was also a SAM site to be destroyed. A classic Search and Rescue, plus Search and Destroy mission, tailor made for the Ghosts! It soon became obvious that a stealthy approach was not going to work for the S&R team, as the noise of gunfire in the distanced sounded the desperate attempts of the air crew to fend off the rebels. So full steam ahead for the rescue team, while the S&D team were ordered to approach the Sam site and await further orders.

The one urban mission, which I mentioned in the Introduction, is almost like a classic Urban Operations defend mission for the opening minutes. Holed up in the Voting Centre the Ghosts have to repel rebel attacks from both the North and South entrances, before moving up to shepherd terrified voters back into the centre.

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