You can watch the video version of this written review at http://youtu.be/0IVcrAnJCbM
I would like to preface this review by saying that I LOVE the original Ghost Recon. I have beaten that game at least eight or nine times. So imagine my surprise when I first load up The Sum Of All Fears and find out that it looks exactly like Ghost Recon! It was developed in 2002, one year after Ghost Recon, by Red Storm Entertainment, so it really shouldn't be a surprise that the engine and essentially everything else is pretty much the exact same. This would most likely be a negative point on most reviews, but considering my love for Ghost Recon, this was very welcome!
However, there are a few changes, and they make this feel more like an expansion pack, rather than a standalone release. The Sum Of All Fears is quite literally a dumbed-down, streamlined version of Ghost Recon. Plain and simple. You don't get to assemble your own squad, the waypoints are pre-plotted for you, the skill-point system is gone, completing special objectives nets you no reward other than personal accomplishment, I could go on. This time, the game is focused on the story, which is actually based on a book, so I don't see why all these features had to be cut out. It's not like they had to spend their time coming up with a plot to this game. Maybe they didn't follow the book, I don't know.
The story follows you, a randomly generated HRT member, as you tear through West Virginia, killing tons of rednecks in news stations and underground complexes. Then, after the second mission, some ♥♥♥♥ decided to detonate a nuclear device in a football stadium in the middle of a game. That stadium is in Baltimore, Maryland, and a quick Google search shows that the Baltimore Ravens were completely wiped out by this bomb, along with whatever team they were playing (hopefully the Bengals), as well as hundreds of thousands of fans. If you ever want to get America's attention, you screw with its professional sports. 9/11 has NOTHING on this attack. Those towers were home to about as many national sports teams as Nebraska. Maybe this will take the focus off of 9/11 and this will be the attack everyone refuses to stop milking for the next three decades. That's enough to get the entire country ♥♥♥♥ed enough to form a special task force in order to hunt down these monsters.
Football is great and all, but what makes me mad about all of this is that the nuke was detonated late December, 2001. The Wire, a prolific television show set in Baltimore, first premiered June 2, 2002. These terrorists effectively destroyed any chance of that show ever being made. Mother. ♥♥♥♥ers. Okay, you don't have to tell me twice, let's go kill everyone even remotely related to the plot.
What did stay in this game is the stiff, tactical shooter gameplay that made Ghost Recon so much fun. One well-placed bullet can take a bad guy down, but that goes both ways. The AI can be a little dumb at times but Jesus Christ, once they get you in their line of sight, it's a mad trigger dash that usually ends in you eating a bullet. I know the game is tactical, and it's trying to be as realistic as it can, but when you get shot and don't die, your character takes about three minutes to forget about everything around him and fliiiinnnch.
I appreciate that the developers actually made your character acknowledge when he's hit in a way other than annoyingly jerking your camera around, but it's really just a death sentence. You have no control when your character decides to do this, so by the time you are playable again, the enemy has probably shot you ten more times, and you are now dead. Good job. Thank god you can switch teammates.
The game doesn't really look too exciting, but something about the slow, trial-and-error gameplay just twists my ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥. Filling a bad guy full of lead and then watching dust fly out of him like he's been sitting on a shelf for 3 years prior to this mission is really satisfying to me, and the game has a few extra options that add a little replay value onto it. If you gave me a choice, I would definitely choose Ghost Recon over this, but I'm happy that The Sum Of All Fears exists. There's 12 missions for you to complete, as opposed to Ghost Recon's 15, and in the end, spoiler alert, you do get the guy. But, the damage is already done; that universe still won't have The Wire. Shiiieeeeeeeeeet.