Night shrouds the pair of ghosts as the surveil the lonely military base. They reconed the entire mountainside, and know exactly where each enemy solider is. This mission should be easy, and they’ll be in and out without anyone knowing they were there are all.
That is, until one of them accidentally slides down the rocky slope, exposing their position and setting off a series of events that ends in a helicopter chase and several unnecessary explosions.
Ghost Recon Breakpoint is a po-faced tactical military shooter that is at its most fun when at its least strategic.
You play with up to three friends as a squad of ghosts, the black ops CIA unit sent into fix problems no one else can. This time, you’re sent to the fictional Auroa Island in the South Pacific, where rogue ghosts have taken over.
In theory you’re seemingly meant to retake the island with perfectly synchronised attacks, stealth, and subterfuge.
In practice, you’ll playing through choking laughter as you hurtle armoured jeeps off cliffs, accidentally toss grenades at your friends, and forget to deploy your parachute.
Which is all for the better because the game doesn’t want you to have a good time.
The story feels exactly the same as every other Tom Clancy game, even if it isn’t. America is infallible, always the best and always doing the right thing. And anything bad that America might do is from rogue elements that do not make up the manifest whole.
During the time on Auroa you’ll be rubbing shoulders with fellow very serious military personnel, as well as freedom fighting civilian scientists and ‘Homesteaders’, less problematic versions of militiamen and conservative minded sovereign citizens.
Luckily most of your encounters of these various characters are relatively short once you get past the first few missions, as Breakpoint opens up and actually lets you enjoy yourself and make your own stories.
And the stories you can tell with friends in Ghost Recon are incredible and the best tales are the ones where absolutely everything went wrong.
From falling off the side of a mountain to wandering up to a drone tank without noticing, your failures are much more entertaining than your successes in Breakpoint.
Something about the design of the game, the soldiers and the seriousness of their mission makes the absurdity even more amusing.
This, coupled with the arsenal of murder tools and vehicles to mess around with make Breakpoint a great experience, even if it possibly isn’t what the developers at Ubisoft had in mind.
But on your own the experience is quite different. Without an unpredictable accomplice to liven up the presidings, the dour characters and serious tone make your time on Auroa far less enjoyable.
Even the silly way that your characters walk up hills isn’t as amusing without someone to share in it.
That being said, the player versus player experience isn’t great at all for people that aren’t interested in the severe tactical experience.
What begins as slow, tense, and quiet matches normally abruptly end with your death from an opponent you never saw.
These matches are all about finding a good vantage point and waiting for your enemies to stumble into your trap, something that feels entirely reverse to the more frantic game style that Breakpoint’s game world enjoys.
Even with a friend though, Breakpoint has its frustrating moments.
Firstly there are the menus, a vast labyrinth of various skills, maps, and missions that are unfathomable in their complexity.
The way you navigate them, and the way they choose to design their information are both annoying and completely unintuitive.
You’ll spend more then a little time getting to grips with the various layers, especially when you move into the gunsmith elements and the accessories investigations.
Like so many Tom Clancy games, Breakpoint comes with an array of tools to customise your weapons, and like so many of them, its not very user friendly.
Weapon accessory blueprints can be found throughout the world which you can then craft at the shop, but finding the right mod for the right gun can be tricky.
On top of that, a lot of the guns, whether they are licensed from actual manufactures or not, all feel quite similar.
This, on top of the jargon-laden names and descriptions, make it hard to tell individual weapons apart most of the time.
That’s not to say the shooting is bad, because it isn’t.
The guns have a deliberate weight to them and the bullets dip as they travel, making firing them and landing hits all the more satisfying.
It’s just that apart from the obviously different classifications like sniper rifles and shotguns, they all feel the same.
The other thing that slows down the game is the size of the map.
While the central arteries are littered with checkpoints, patrols and buildings to encounter or destroy, the vast majority of the Auroa is wilderness.
That wilderness is very pretty, from looming mountains of grey stone to misty green swamps, but its devoid of anything significant to do.
To try and spice up the regions, Breakpoint will throw broken vehicle, after broken vehicle in front of you to pick off the soldiers repairing them.
But this doesn’t offer a challenge, and really only makes you wonder how bad the maintenance of vehicles is on this supposedly futuristic island haven.
But whether it’s the awkward walking animations, the explosive result of your shenanigans or the satisfaction of landing a headshot without raising the alarm, Breakpoint is a fantastic game with friends, even if it tries not to be.
The empty spaces between checkpoints are dull, and the gunfights can be repetitive without a partner in crime.
But behind all of its faults, even its painfully jingoistic overtones and its overtly militaristic design hides its true entertainment value.
The Verdict – 3/5
– Reviewed on PlayStation 4
• Memorable, exciting, and often hilarious emergent gameplay • Enough different weapons, outfits, and vehicles to supply an army
• Maybe it’s just a little too big and a little too empty • A story that doesn’t say much, or anything interesting about America’s military-industrial complex
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