Tom Clancy's first-person shooter games have been making waves on the PC for years now. Starting with the original Rainbow Six, the Clancy combination of realistic tactical combat and fictional political intrigue has proved to be a successful mix for PC players who want more than the typical action-game blastfest. Last year, the Xbox received a port of Ghost Recon, one of the more recent Clancy games on the PC. Around the same time, the PC version of the game was updated with an expansion pack called Island Thunder, and not surprisingly, we've now gotten an enhanced port of that expansion on the Xbox as well. If you've played the Xbox Ghost Recon, Island Thunder is more of the same, but it's more of the same of an already solid game, with the same style of online multiplayer that made the previous Ghost Recon so exciting.
Like Ghost Recon, Island Thunder has a bevy of multiplayer options.
Like you would expect from all the games carrying the Tom Clancy name, Ghost Recon: Island Thunder presents you with an interesting near-future international scenario to set up the action. As the title may have tipped you off, Island Thunder takes place in a fictional Cuba where the recent death of Fidel Castro has predictably thrown the political situation into a shambles. You'll once again take the role of the Ghosts, a highly skilled Army unit specializing in reconnaissance and covert operations. You and your squad will have to go behind unfriendly lines to tackle a host of objectives as you attempt to stabilize matters in the volatile region.
The gameplay in Island Thunder is mostly similarl to what you've played in Ghost Recon, but if you're new to the series you'll find it pretty accessible after a slight learning curve. You control two three-man teams--Alpha and Bravo--as you infiltrate hostile territory in pursuit of your objectives. Of course, you'll control only one soldier at a time, but you can switch between any of the six at will, and the other members will be controlled by AI. Thankfully, the teammate AI is quite good, and you'll often find your buddies saving your neck when the fighting gets intense. If you find the AI teammates aren't quite doing what you require, you can set a number of parameters controlling their behavior. Further, Island Thunder's map system makes it easy to keep track of the location of mission objectives, your two squads, and hostile forces. Once you learn how everything fits together you'll be able to employ a lot of strategy in the way you tackle your goals, which is good, because the goals generally require a lot of strategy, and not just a simple run-and-gun approach. What's more, it's in your interest to minimize your own casualties during missions, since your troops will carry over from mission to mission and gain experience that can be used to enhance their abilities.