JRVG – Ghost Recon: Wildlands

Oh man, this game.

Its absolutely brilliant. I’ll give the a quick rundown but please bear in mind that there is precious little more to the game than this;

– You and your merry team of professional assassins (‘special forces’) get dropped into Bolivia.

– You are assigned a task; kill everyone.

– You follow through on that task with the tools at your disposal; drones, vehicles, explosives etc.

That’s all there is to it. The beauty of this game is its sheer simplicity. It doesn’t layer on the context, there’s no time allocated to establishing the characters and it certainly doesn’t keep you on rails till you know what you’re doing. Its just ‘here are some guns, go murderise all the people’.

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Now, the moralists among you may shout and scream that this is just another example of tyrannical American foreign policy. That the West feels it can just rock up in another country with a bag full of bombs and kill the fuck out of everyone. These people would be absolutely right. It is a military nut’s wet dream where the source of the American drug scourge can be isolated to one particular region of the world that needs the shit kicking out of it by some burly dudes with massive biceps and even bigger guns.

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In short; the story, the context and the characters are all total shit. To enjoy this game, you do have to filter out all that noise and focus on the core gameplay for which the best comparison I can think of is Metal Gear Solid 5. You are given a target area that contains a thing or person that either needs to be collected or destroyed and then you’re left to use your imagination. Your two main approaches are running in like a cross between Rambo and Usain Bolt, firing wildly at anything that moves in the hope you’ll hit something. Alternatively you can go in all stealthy like, sniping from distance, then sneaking up on the base before someone spots you and you have to run around firing wildly etc etc. Its a game where things go from fairly badass to embarrassingly unfortunate very quickly.

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Wildlands is the rare kind of open world beast where the setting feels like as asset, rather than an obstacle. Before approaching a mission zone you will pray for an elevated position to begin the assault and Bolivia invariably provides. In the odd instance it doesn’t, you have to be able to adapt. Do not, however, entertain the idea that the best way to assault a mountain top fortress would be to dive out of a helicopter and onto the roof. This will end in total, humiliating disaster.

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The game provides a wonderful playground for potential fun. There is minimal handholding, just a great deal of challenge, incentive and reward. The point is that whilst this is by no means the most complex, involved or sophisticated game (the characters and plot are genuine 12 carat turd) the actual game is a refreshingly polished and exhaustive exercise in creating a joyous sandbox of possibilities.

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6/10 – A very good game that is held back from a higher score by its one-dimensional characters and highly questionable storyline.

 

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