Red Storm and Ubi Soft have returned to the stealth shooter fray with the official add-on for their highly popular title of last year Ghost Recon. Those specialist troops, The Ghosts, are back but this time in an all new scenario spanning 8 new missions. Desert Siege is easy to install and the game sets itself up snugly in your ‘Mods’ folder of your original Ghost Recon installation so there’s no messing about.
The forested areas of the Ukraine in the first game have now been replaced with the warmer sandier location of Eastern Africa where Ethiopia and Eritrea have become embroiled in conflict after an Ethiopian coup. Ethiopia decide the time is right to put pressure on Eritrea and invade. With the UN stuck in a dilemma they need to prevent a humanitarian crisis so it’s up to the Ghosts to get in there and sort out the mess.
Red Storm have obviously wanted to find a balance between adding enough single player and multiplayer features so eight missions may not seem a lot. The new missions are varied with your team starting off on a beach a*ault to eliminate the enemy camps and capturing the radio tower, through to escorting a convoy or taking control of a fortress area. It’s all pretty much what you would come to expect after playing the original.
The single player gameplay in Desert Siege remains unchanged, and I will admit the missions didn’t take too long to actually complete. Having said that, I think overall I preferred the missions and scenarios in Desert Siege over the original Ghost Recon. The maps seemed a lot more alive, and with more enemy vehicles on patrol, things did get tough at times (d** those pesky jeeps!). The map layouts were also interesting giving a good number of options to attack the enemy positions, some areas are really wide open making it easy for enemy patrols to spot you and at other times, like in the protect the convoy mission, you needed to head into sheltered high vantage points to pick off the enemy.
The overall Desert Siege experience was probably heightened by the actual scenarios themselves. The game just looked a whole lot better in the desert settings, the fogging didn’t seem quite as severe and it felt more playable. This was probably down to personal preference but overall the single player was a blast and kept me hooked over the weekend.
The AI in Desert Siege certainly kept me on my toes and it seems to have been tweaked, they are no slouch, but with a good sniper heading up your platoon in a command position you can coordinate the battles well while taking out key enemy positions. This tactic certainly came handy in the seventh mission where you need to take out the enemy sniper points protecting the road before securing the compound.
So you get 8 missions, what else? One of the main reasons for Desert Siege coming into being is to enhance the community behind the game by improving and adding to the vibrant multiplayer online community. Red Storm have done this in a number of ways through new features and additions. First of all there are the new multiplayer modes in Desert Siege. Two new game modes have been added to keep you online, these are Domination and Siege.
Domination is where players need to defend zones dotted around the map. The map is has different zones all colour coded and each have to be held for as long as possible. The other new multiplayer mode, Siege involves teams of players trying to hold their area or ‘base’ from the other team. If the other team manages to get a player into the base zone for a period of time the zone is captured. Both these new modes can be played on wither the original maps or on the new Desert Siege maps and both are a worthy addition to multiplayer games of Ghost Recon.
No expansion pack would be complete without new weapons and Desert Siege won’t disappoint fans of the original. There is one snag though, the new weapons are only available in the multiplayer, scenarios. This is no big deal really considering there are only 8 missions in the expansion anyway. For those that are hungry for new weapons, there’s a choice of 9 new weapons at your disposal including the AN-94 Russian a*ault rifle, the M60, the Barrett M98, the PKM Russian machine gun, the Belgium FN-FAL Para Variant, the A-91, the H&K PSG-1 sniper, the Bizon 9mm and finally the Russian Groza. As you can see there’s plenty here to sink your teeth into and add that little bit of extra something to your tactics and strategy in the field.
Another important feature online gamers will really appreciate is the ability to bring up the leaderboard in-game via a hotkey. This list will tell you who’s on top as far as scores are concerned and it adds that competitive edge to the multiplayer.
No doubt about it Desert Siege looks the part and the sound in the game is also top-notch. Every level and action provides that feeling of immersion with the environmental and explosive sounds, it’s cracking stuff.
Desert Siege comes in at a reasonable $19.95 in the US and 17.99 in the UK and after a weekend of fun we think the price is well worth it. If you dabbled with the first game and online isn’t your thing then the eight new scenarios may not be enough to warrant the purchase, we would have liked to have seen a few more missions in there. On the other hand, Desert Siege provides enough to keep the avid online Ghost Recon fan very happy and we think it’s one add-on you can’t be without, if you play multiplayer there’s no excuse for not nipping out for a copy.