The best aspects of Ghost Recon 2 Summit Strike's single-player campaign are its variability and the sheer size of its levels. In one mission you'll find yourself trekking up treacherous, snowy mountainsides in search of entrenched artillery to destroy. Another has you hurrying across mountain passes to reinforce UN soldiers who are being overrun at a satellite launch facility. One of the more memorable missions requires you to hold off a fierce assault on a bunker during the dead of night. Even with low-light goggles enabled, the mission effectively captures the intensity and confusion of nighttime battle as you struggle to discern friend and foe in the shifting shadows.
The size of the levels isn't just a gimmick, either. The obvious benefit is that you'll have more choices as far as the order in which you should tackle your objectives. A less obvious plus is that no matter which direction you move in, you can never be certain where your enemies are. The game's urban map exemplifies this well--a street that you just moved down and cleared of enemies may end up being filled in by more troops later, whether they're roving patrols of foot soldiers, a jeep making its rounds on the streets, or a gunship orbiting the city. This means you're almost always on your toes, which gives the game a near-constant, palpable tension. The lone-wolf missions are particularly unnerving, since you don't have teammates to rely on who can help you spot danger. To make up for this deficiency, the weapons you're issued for these missions include a gun camera, which lets you safely look and shoot around corners. You also have the ability to call in artillery strikes to clear out enemy armor and troop concentrations.
Once you're done with the single-player campaign, Summit Strike offers tons of multiplayer modes, all of which are available for two- to four-player split-screen play, system link play, or online play over Xbox Live. These include standard modes like deathmatch and last man standing, as well as team-based modes such as assassination and domination. A variety of co-op modes are also available in Summit Strike, including mission mode, which will let you play the game's single-player missions cooperatively, and garrison, where you must hold a position against an AI-controlled assault for a set period of time. In total, there are a whopping 24 different multiplayer modes, playable on more than 25 different maps. Whether you're looking for something simple, like shooting down waves of attack helicopters, or something more involved, like team-based search and rescue, Summit Strike has something for everyone. In our play-testing of split-screen and online play, the game worked pretty well, with frame rates holding up for the most part. It's also worth noting that it's possible to take four players online from one Xbox unit onto Xbox Live for online play.
Detailed player models and long draw distances are two of the strengths of Summit Strike's engine.
Summit Strike is also no slouch as far as presentation goes. Though the engine is based on that of the game's predecessor, the graphics are still excellent, with fairly long draw distances--a feature that is particularly important for a game of this nature. The graphics won't make anyone forget Far Cry, but skillful use of a scoped sniper rifle still lets you get the drop on enemies long before you're in their detection radius. The player models are also particularly noteworthy. All the weapons you carry are visible on their person, and when you switch, you'll see your character sling his current weapon over his back and then unsling the other weapon. This animation may seem like a small point, but it gives a realistic, visual context for the amount of time it takes to switch guns. The varied environments also look great, whether you're fighting among the skyscrapers and parks in the urban area or crawling through thick brush in the many forested maps. Sound effects are also nice and crisp, with appropriate oomph for the various weapons and explosions. There's a fair amount of voice acting as well, within the game and during cutscenes, but none of it is particularly noteworthy or memorable.
With a solid presentation, a versatile multiplayer element, and a compelling single-player campaign, Ghost Recon 2 Summit Strike is just about everything you could want in a Ghost Recon 2 expansion pack. More maps, more missions, more stuff to shoot, and at a reduced price to boot. Summit Strike should definitely keep Ghost Recon fans happy and busy while they wait on the next-gen version.