There's no need to beat around the bush, Ghost Recon 2 for the PlayStation 2 is a disappointing game. Not to be confused with the Xbox version, which is actually quite good. The PS2 version was developed as a prequel to the Xbox version, in terms of the storyline, but the two versions are on opposite ends of the spectrum. While the Xbox version is a polished, action-packed military shooter, the PS2 version is a tedious exercise in frustration. So lace up your boots, this one is going to get messy.
Chronologically, Ghost Recon 2 for the PS2 takes place four years before the events of the Xbox version. An American ship is mysteriously sunk in the Sea of Japan and the North Koreans are blamed. In response to the accusation, North Korea initiates the invasion of South Korea. The Ghosts are sent in to respond, and discover that a rebel North Korean general is behind the operation. Can the Ghosts defuse the crisis in time to avert a potential nuclear war?
There are two major changes to the Ghost Recon series in this sequel. First, rather than commanding two squads of three soldiers, only one team of four will be deployed into action and you'll only control one of those men, Captain Scott Mitchell. On the upside, you won't have to micromanage two squads throughout each mission. On the downside, you won't be able to swap out to other soldiers. If you decide to be a rifleman, you'll have to leave the long-range shots to your computer-controlled sniper. Accompanying this change is a new control interface that allows you to command your squad to move into position, throw grenades, provide suppressive fire and regroup, all at the press of a button. The second change is a switch from the first-person view to a third-person perspective. And unlike the Xbox version, you won't have the option of choosing between the two.
Unfortunately it's all downhill from here.
Right from the get go I knew there was trouble. Not thirty seconds into the first mission my squad came across an enemy watch tower. I ordered my troops to take cover behind some rocks and eliminate the two guards manning the tower. Gunfire broke out. I waited. I waited some more. Two minutes passed and I began to wonder what the situation was, so I peeked around the corner only to see the guards still in the tower, unphased by the apparent unlimited rounds of ammunition my squad was unloading on them. I took aim and with a total of four bullets, eliminated both targets. At that moment, my sniper actually had the guts to say "good shot, sir." I rewarded his accuracy in combat with a bullet to his head. He slumped to the ground. What, like the rest of my squad was going to turn on me and shoot me? They obviously couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. Never has a squad been so completely useless in battle. They don't shoot anybody. You might as well leave them at the insertion point and run through each mission on your own.
In fact, most of the campaign revolves around you. There are trigger points throughout each mission but if you send one of your squad members to scout ahead, they'll often find nothing, luring you into a false sense of security. For some reason, only you can trigger certain ambushes. For example, while clearing out an airfield I sent my squad to investigate a hangar. They made their way through the entire building without triggering a single enemy soldier, but as soon as I stepped foot in the place, the enemies came out of the woodworks, running right past my squad and taking aim at me. What is up with that? I guess the North Koreans got wind of my squad's inability to shoot so they figured I was the only threat to their operation.
And then there's the level design, which is uninspiring to say the least. The missions are entirely too linear. What happened to the wide-open environments, the alternate means of completing your objective? And there's no way to gain a strategic advantage on the enemy. There are roadblocks everywhere and there's rarely an opportunity to climb to a higher elevation to get a lay of the land or gain an edge in combat. You're basically boxed in, waiting for the next ambush. To make matters worse you can't save mid-mission, meaning you'll go through a repetitive trial and error process as you memorize when and from where the enemies spawn on each level.
Multiplayer? Limited to three competitive modes online. No co-operative play is available. Audio? Lacks depth. Graphics? Slightly better than the original. The vegetation has been greatly improved but the enemy has an unfair advantage in that they have the ability to see and shoot right through the stuff as if it weren't even there. Do I really need to go on?
I'm really surprised how poorly Ghost Recon 2 for the PlayStation 2 turned out. Uninspiring level design, terrible squad AI and minimal multiplayer support all contribute to a frustrating and ultimately dull gaming experience. I simply can't recommend this title to military shooter enthusiasts, let alone newcomers to the series.