Assassin’s Creed meets Battlefield meets GTA. A beautifully sensual threesome that ends in pure ecstasy. The result is a game we come (no pun intended) to know as Ghost Recon Wildlands. Now, I must admit, the last Ghost Recon game I played was GRAW (Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter) and that was seemingly forever ago. But, in general, I have never been the biggest fan of Tom Clancy games. I have played several different titles, including: Rainbow Six Siege, Wildlands, GRAW, and Splinter Cell (the original), but I have never really acquired a taste for ol’ Tom… Maybe that didn’t come (no pun intended) out the way I wanted it to, but let’s find out if the Wildlands brought out my inner Tom.
BlueBall Score: 17 out of 25 balls
As I have previously mentioned, this game is the result of a sensual threesome; And the gameplay is a major reason why. The controls, versatility, and overall feel of the game is quite unique and there are elements of all the threesome "participants."
To kick things off here, let’s talk about the overall feel of the game. Wildlands is an open-world third-person shooter. The game opens with a kick ASS cut scene that gives you a nice backdrop and summary to the entire purpose of the game; Stop the Santa Blanca drug cartel in Bolivia, and it foreshadows that you will (probably) have to kill the "El Jefe de Jefes." He looks like a total badass and scared me so that part had to be realistic, right? I don’t know what the typical drug lord looks like, but I would imagine they look like El Sueño (the abovementioned "El Jefe de Jefes"). Back to the point, after the initial cut scene, you are thrown in the middle of Bolivia and cut loose without much direction after that. And, in this case where you have concurrent main missions, it can be quite overwhelming at times if you aren’t accustomed to this genre of game. Is a little direction too much to ask for Ubisoft?
Next, let’s discuss the controls. As one may expect, the basic controls adhere to the standard for most shooter games. If you have played any shooter game in the last decade, then you will be able to move your character around, aim, and blow up some shit from the first second. But, the not-so-basic controls were not AS clear. There was a "tutorial mission" in the beginning, but it was a poor excuse for a tutorial. It was essentially the game throwing you in and saying, "Good luck!" It was up to you on how to approach the mission, take out the enemies, direct your team members, move around in the field, etc. I don’t know if they were trying to drive home the "open world" concept with this approach, but either way it was a bad approach. I actually learned the most in the co-op mode when playing with other players and seeing how they approached combat situations. As I progressed through the game, I quickly learned that there are a ton of controls at your disposal.
That leads me to my next and last point – versatility. Have I mentioned that this game is open world? With that genre, comes the possibility of endless possibilities! You get a possibility! You get a possibility! And you get a possibility! Everyone gets a possibility! But seriously, you can approach just about any mission in any way you see fit. You can be stealthy about it, recon the area first, and silently take out your targets without anyone knowing you were there. OR! You and your team members can parachute out of a helicopter and initiate an aerial assault like mad men. On top of that, you can completely customize your weapon(s). You can go silent with silencers or go in hot with guns a-blazin’.
In conclusion, the game feels and is VERY open world. From start to end, this game puts the ultimate power of choice in YOUR hands. I would appreciate a little more direction and a couple more tutorials on how to use all the different components in the game. This would make it easier for gamers like me who want just a little direction (even in open world games). For these reasons, it gets 3/5 balls.
To take down the cartel, you must disrupt its operations and reduce its scope of power. What the hell does that even mean, Tasty? There are 4 main "sections." Those are: Influence, Smuggling, Production, and Security. Each one of those sections has a main boss. Now, for each of sections/bosses, there are sub-bosses that are responsible for the day-to-day operations. You do missions and gather intel that allow you to work your way up to killing the main boss of each section (long story short). Luckily, the map is divided into sections that correlate to the 4 main sections so it is easier to narrow your focus (if you are not accustomed to the open-world genre). But, it is nothing out of the ordinary to have 5-10 main missions available at any given moment.
To make matters even more complicated, there are a f*** ton of side missions. Side missions aren’t required, Tasty. I don’t have to do those if I don’t want to! Incorrect my infamous, imaginary friend! The way the game is designed is that you must do a fair amount of side missions. For example, gun parts and certain guns are stored in weapon caches which you need to gain access to. Unfortunately, those weapon caches are usually in the middle of an enemy base. Also, the way you upgrade your character, weapons, abilities, and skills is through resources and skill points. Like weapon caches, skill points are acquired (typically in an enemy base) and you can do side missions specific to getting resources.
In case you couldn’t tell, there are a ton of things to do in this game. There is a wide variety of missions and mission types, but it isn’t presented in the best way. It is quite normal to look at your map and see 5-10 main story missions, several dozens of side missions, and still not know what to do. You may need to do some side missions to upgrade your character’s abilities and maybe even get some new guns, but you may be eager to do a main mission and get one step closer to taking out the infamous El Sueño. But which main mission do you do?! Having too much to do is rarely a dreadful thing in a game, but having too much to do without any idea of what you should be doing is bad. For these reasons, it gets 4/5 balls.
It’s a bird! No, it’s a plane! No, it’s hope! Believe it or not, I really enjoyed this co-op campaign. I liked it because it was simple. There were no additional bells or whistles. There weren’t different sets of missions from the single player. It was literally the same experiences you would get in single player, except better. It was like having sex with midgets… Ya know? Like sex with non-midgets (I am not quite up to date on my technical terminology), but better.
Some of the missions were quite better when playing through them with other players. They tended to be more enjoyable, exciting, and even easier with REAL people! Imagine that! Players being better and more helpful than the half-retarded AI! And you want to know what the best part was? You still got all the same progress as if you were playing solo. So, if you were a lone wolf and wanted to be emo by yourself, you could! If you are an extroverted, annoying jerk-wad and wanted to annoy others with your lame ass jokes while playing through the game, you could! Everyone received the same experiences, results, and cut scenes. That should appease you liberals who want complete fairness across the board.
Next, each player could still do their own thing even in the co-op lobbies. Since everyone is going to be at various stages throughout the game (because there are SO MANY FREAKING MISSIONS AND NO DIRECTION!) this gives players the option to do separate missions in the same world/lobby. So, maybe you and your friend want to take down some cartel production lines while the other 2 randos want to go suck each other off in a base assault mission. Well, guess what? You can in Ghost Recon Wildlands!
Finally, I want to mention that the co-op lobbies had a lot of glitches. Lobbies and mission statuses would get all out of sorts sometimes when players left and joined the lobby. Also, if players joined in on your mission while you were halfway through, there would be times where it would glitch out. Also, microphones and chat audio would get jacked up as players joined in and left. It didn’t happen all the time, but it happened enough for me to get frustrated… Tsk, tsk Ubisoft!
So, as always, there is always the shitty element of TOO MANY FREAKING MISSIONS AND NO DIRECTION (have I said that before?), but the co-op campaign was surprisingly fun. You couldn’t help but feel like a bad ass while you and 3 other bad asses creep up on a base and silently take it out. Communicating to your teammates like real soldiers with phrases such as, "Sending out recon drone.", and "Taking out the solo enemy in the east.", and "Snipers in the tower are down. Moving up to their position for better visibility.", all contributed to an immersive and exciting experience. Especially with all the different tools at your disposal, including: helicopters, armored vehicles with turrets, sports cars, dirt bikes, and so much more! But, due to the number of glitches and issues that can occur in lobbies, the co-op campaign gets 4/5 balls.
Now, as another old saying goes… Every cloud has a silver lining. For me, that was the audio in this game. The characters sounded so masculine and bad ass. I must admit, it turned me on a bit. But, if you deployed a drone and were in a situation when you were trying to be quiet, the characters would speak quietly and say what you were doing at that time. In other words, it didn’t say you were deploying a drone while in the middle of a high-speed chase. Unless you actually did that… in which you would be a moron. Now, I am too much of a sissy to go in the military, so I don’t know if they talk that way, but how they were referencing the situation, people, and equipment seemed pretty dam realistic to me. If anything, it was enough to make a straight man think about swingin’ the other way. And the actual combat sounds were realistic as well. If you shot your sniper and hit the piece of metal next to the guy you were supposed to be shooting (I would never do such a thing with my pinpoint accuracy), you would hear a metal ‘DINK!’ On top of this, you would also hear sirens, reinforcements, search helicopters, the chatter of enemy forces, and just about everything else you can imagine in your worst nightmares.
As a special mention, I wasn’t too thrilled about the soundtrack on this game. The music was decent, but there were times when I was darting away from an enemy base I just wreaked havoc on in a truck with choppers and armored vehicles on my tail, but the music was a bit lame. Maybe I just didn’t understand it because I am culturally illiterate, but it seemed kind of cheesy and lame at times.
So, although the graphics were eye candy with no depth or sense of humor, they weren’t terrible. Luckily, these audio elements combined in a fantastic foursome to make one hell of an immersive and realistic experience. Besides the sub-par soundtrack, the audio was sensational. For all these reasons, this section gets 3/5 balls.
Right and wrong! The upgrade system is important in just about any game, but Wildlands had a very complex upgrade system. Let’s start off with talking about the character upgrades. How do I make my guy as strong as superman, Tasty?! Well, Tiny Tim, you must start by first studying quantum physics. In Wildlands, you have skill points that you use to upgrade your character. But, in addition to skill points, you also must have a certain number of resources. And, as I mentioned earlier, you can get resources by doing side missions. Coincidentally enough, you can also get more skill points by doing side missions. So, if you wanted to level up your character, you had to gather both skill points and resources.
Next, not only could you upgrade your character, you could upgrade your equipment that you use (your recon drone for instance). As you progress through the game, you can utilize the rebel forces as YOUR form of reinforcements. You can even level those up! So, there were a ton of things to level up in this game and a ton of separate ways to do so.
Weapons? Dear God, almighty. There is a million of ‘em! The sheer variety of weapons in this game is amazing. On top of that, you could customize your weapon in just about every way imaginable. You could upgrade/customize the stock, scope, trigger, magazine, underbarrel, rail, barrel, muzzle, and even the color of your gun! It was insane! If you are looking for this level of customization in a game, then you must be criminally insane. I just want to select my gun and go blow up some shit! I know that these younger gamers love customizing their shit, but you gotta draw the line somewhere! On a serious note, it was a bit overwhelming at first when you see that you unlocked a new gun and when you go to equip it, you are almost forced to look at 15 other things to make sure you don’t have any other parts/upgrades for it. And, guess what? To get more weapons/weapon parts, YOU MUST DO SIDE MISSIONS!!! Imagine that!
Finally, the level of character customizations is something out of this world. You can customize just about any aspect of your character. You can make him a burly lumberjack with red pubic hair or a covert ops-looking badass from the south side of Africa. Whatever tickles your fancy! One thing I did like a lot was that you could change the color of your outfit? Tasty, who cares what color your underwear is? Well, apparently Bolivia has snowy mountains and you don’t want to look like a green bush on the top of snowy mountain when you are trying to secretly snipe enemies. So, it was nice to be able to adjust your clothes to be able to blend in to your surroundings depending on where your missions were located.
So, the upgrading system was quite complex to say the least. I am all for providing customizations and upgrades to allow the gamer to really personalize their experience, but Wildlands went just a hair overboard in my opinion. When you first get into the game, the character customization can be a bit overwhelming and then trying to get and upgrade guns can be a painful experience as well. For these reasons, it gets 3/5 balls.
In conclusion, Ghost Recon Wildlands was a pretty damn good game. After playing enough of it to be able to write this review, I found myself contemplating going out and buying it for myself. This game is what I would describe as a nice, casual, fun shooter game. You aren’t going to get extremely competitive with this game like Call of Duty, Battlefield, or Halo; But it isn’t as laid back as Minecraft since it is a shooter after all. Wildlands is a nice blend of GTA, Battlefield, and Assassin’s Creed. There is always something to do in this massive world and there are dozens of ways to do it. Whether you are a lone wolf and want to explore this land solo, or you are group kind of fella’, Wildlands bundles together a lot of different elements, controls, and features to give the ultimate power of choice to you – the gamer. Although the game lacks a solid sense of direction and arguably went too overboard with the open world approach, it is still a solid game. A little bit of direction in the game mixed with a “toned down” upgrade and customization system could have made this an almost perfect game. For these reasons, Wildlands gets a grand total of 17/25 balls.