WILDLANDS – BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL
Publisher – Ubisoft
Reviewed on – PlayStation 4
PRICE– ₹ 2,999 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC
First Impression –
With almost every video game going down the ‘openworld’ route, it isn’t a surprise to see Ghost Recon do the same. This military tactical shooter is Ubisoft’s most renowned franchise alongside Assassin’s Creed, Prince of Persia and Far Cry. After nine iterations focusing majorly on stealth in a linear format, this one gives you the freedom to complete each task at hand stealthily or explosively, in the fictional country of Bolivia. The key feature of this game other than the massive open-world is the co-op play, something we experienced in The Division. With new additions to the franchise, Ghost Recon: Wildlands is definitely Ubisoft’s boldest project yet.
You are part of a special ops team on a mission in Bolivia. The instructions are simple – put an end to Santa Blanca, a drug cartel which has done more harm than good to the country and its citizens. The cartel led by El Sueño has enough clout amongst officials to get away with every illegitimate act. Like any cartel, they have a hierarchy which will put a lot of corporates to shame. Slowly but surely, you have to take out every rung of the ladder, which will eventually lead to El Sueño. While you are at war with Santa Blanca, you will also fight battles with La Unidad, a Special Operations Division. Also, the local rebel group, Kataris 26, will come into play (in a supporting act) every now and then. After customizing your character, the game puts you in thick of the action with a rescue mission. Afterwards, you travel to the length and breadth of Bolivia, to rescue hostages, extract information, stop convoys, steal helicopters and of course, complete the story missions to get to El Sueño. The country is divided into 21 provinces and each province has its own lynchpin. They key to connecting the dots is extracting information from gang leaders and Intel in form of recordings and photographs scattered across the map.
The scale and magnitude of fictional Bolivia is impeccable. Ubisoft has quite possibly created the biggest open world in video games and they have done full justice to a country which is as diversely variable as Bolivia. From sky high mountains to lush green fields, the country has been well depicted in Ghost Recon: Wildlands. During high speed chases or escapes, you may start on a narrow street surrounded by houses and human population and it will probably end on a road surrounded by fields. The diversity in the setting and environment is simply amazing. I spent several minutes every now and then, staring at sunrises. Different geographical conditions like rainfall, day and night change the dynamics of every mission. Ghost Recon: Wildlands has a gigantic world and that is quite truly the best thing about the game. The world of Ghost Recon: Wildlands throws countless missions and side missions at you. At the end of each, you are rewarded with various items. There are supplies that you can tag, which are then picked up the rebels. Some missions also reward you with Skill Points which can be redeemed to upgrade your weapons and items like drones and binoculars. At the same time, you can not only upgrade your skills, but also the skills of your fellow ghosts. Speaking of which, on every mission, you will be accompanied by three other ghosts. If you are playing solo, these ghosts are at your command. You can instruct them to hold fire or go in all guns blazing. Sync shots is a great feature which can take out 4 bad guys after they’re tagged. In co-op, you and three other friends can take the bad guys out together. While, solo gameplay has its charm, Ghost Recon: Wildlands is best enjoyed with friends. Co-op missions not only involved more tactics, but they are also hilarious when all your tactics fall apart.
The game gives you the freedom to choose your style of play and mix them all if needed. During several missions, I waited in the shadows and took out the bad guys especially snipers placed at high locations, with headshots and sync shots. After that, I went in all guns blazing spraying bullets at anything that moved. That tactical freedom is the most pleasing characteristic of the game. Using a gun is a really smooth affair and it excels in that department, something a shooter game should.
Using drones to sneak around and tag enemies was the mainstay of my gameplay. From guns to rocket launchers, your arsenal is fully loaded and you are never short of options. Upgrading these weapons makes it easier to complete tasks at hand. To move from one point to another, the map is laden with cars, bikes, speed boats, trucks, airplanes and helicopters. Crashing airplanes and helicopters into cartel hideouts felt really good. Death comes to you in many ways in the game. I died from enemy fire, and more amusingly, I was killed by an oncoming train, quite an embarrassing death for a special ops ghost.
A world of this magnitude does not come without bugs and Ghost Recon: Wildlands has plenty of them. While, none of them are game breaking, they will make you question the laws of physics. The game begins with a bang and leaves you with promises of fun and a gripping story. As you progress, the story also starts to disappoint and missions get very repetitive. With so many characters brought together, the writers had to get their act right to ensure the game shines on all fronts. Sadly, popular writers, Don Winslow and Shane Salerno, do not do justice to a game with beaming potential. Some of the banter between the ghosts may force you to switch off the subtitles and play the game on mute.
Ghost Recon: Wildlands does a lot of things right. The landscape is overwhelming, the gameplay is glorious and though it gets monotonous, it is content rich. It also guarantees many hours of entertainment. Ghost Recon franchise has returned with a makeover, and though it isn’t perfect, it is quite enjoyable. Simply put, Ghost Recon: Wildlands is a game that you should definitely play.