Ghost Recon: Jungle Storm
Despite all the negative press, the N-Gage is quickly becoming one of my most favoured platforms. What with Worms World Party, Pathway to Glory and the recent Glimmerati, portable gaming has been taken to a new level in my household, seeing as this reviewer is far too protective of his PSP screen to even think about taking it outside.
The latest gem in the N-Gage line-up comes in the form of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Jungle Storm, in which you guide a team of 4 elite marksmen against the Columbian Cartel, who have gone nasty since supplying large amounts of cocaine to the rest of the world. The sudden death of the President of Columbia has resulted in a power struggle, with the Cartel setting off explosions in the capital, destroying the American Embassy and disrupting the country’s first free elections. You’re there to bring peace back to the South Americans.
He lives in a house, a very big house, in the country….
Your first mission is to rescue a group of Red Cross workers taken hostage by the unruly Cartel. Before departure to Columbia, as is the norm with Ghost Recon games, you can kit out the guy you’ll be starting off with, as the other 3 members of the team have already been configured. You get to choose your primary and secondary weapons from a wide selection of firepower, from assault rifles to grenade launchers. After that, it’s just 4 guys, the rough terrain and gun-toting drug lords to battle it out.
If you happen to find yourselves out numbered or at a disadvantage, you can simply switch to another member of the team, who will have a different weapon set up. So you can go from assault rifle to a rocket or grenade launcher in a stroke of a button, whilst the guy you controlled before offers covering or suppressive fire.
One thing that will hit you is how clear the graphics are. The gun actually looks capable of killing someone, and has a nice shine to it, rather than the simple brown stick that I was expecting. Your comrades also look the business, with rounds of ammunition round their chests and some with bandanas. Environments, while extremely linear, are detailed and have a great layout. You don’t feel like the game is set on rails as you strafe across town squares, hiding behind overturned vehicles and cunningly placed fruit stalls, and buildings have a very good quality of architecture about them.
I say there! Was that last train the E754 to Watford or the F297 to Chillingworth?
From my experiences with first person shooters on the GBA, what with blocky graphics and a draw distance the size of my smaller member, I was pleasantly surprised to find that with the N-Gage, players can accurately move around levels without feeling lost. Jungle Storm has excellent levels, a great eye for detail and brilliant gameplay, but stretched over a paltry number of missions; 8 to be precise. This is where the game falls down, as it expects you to go back and complete the game on a harder setting, from easy, normal, hard and then on your own with a one-shot kill pistol in your armoury.
Luckily, the negative points stop when it comes to the AI. Your team mates, rather than get in your line of fire, can handle themselves decently during gun battles, searching for cover and returning fire, without taking care of the target as to do all the work for you. The same goes for the enemies, too, who will hide away and take pot shots at you from afar. The only problem I had with the AI was when you get closer to the enemy. Rather than run back for cover and regroup, they simple walk to the nearest wall, and keep firing at you until either dies; and unless you have an inability to press the god damn fire button, it won’t be you for a fair percentage of the time.
Don’t make me come down there to kick your arse…
Despite the one player mode being quite short, Jungle Storm is still warrented as a near-essential purchase because, quite frankly, the multiplayer rocks. Only if you can find someone else with an N-Gage, that is. Luckily, I did, and he didn’t even have a white stick or guide dog, plus he could read and write, as well as play Jungle Storm efficiently. Through Bluetooth, up to 8 people (again, if you can find them) can play death matches and last man standing modes, which can double as 4 if you turn on the team battles. Of course, I didn’t get to try this because no other stingy people own a sodding N-Gage, but that’s their loss. The one-on-one action was immense fun, but was a shame that no bots could be deployed to liven things up a bit.
Sound quality is excellent, especially since I was expecting far worse. HQ will radio in tips to you for your mission, team-mates will yell and scream at targets and gun fire sounds accurate enough to scare people on a journey out.
Ok, sunshine, you asked for it!
So there you have it; a game I was dreading reviewing, was certain it would have blocky graphics and terrible gameplay has turned out to be immense fun. You’ll need to hunt down a few other people to unlock the multiplayer, which is worth its weight in gold, but as a single player game you’ll have enough fun to while away long journeys, or when the girlfriend is getting ready to go out on the town with your lucky self. If you know what I mean.
Nine out of ten