Over the weekend, many were in breathless anticipation awaiting the 89th  annual Academy Awards, most commonly known as the Oscars. Being culturally defunct, I have only seen two out of the eight movies up for “Best Picture.” Also, I am unclear whether any of the nominations for the movies I did see would be televised. Regardless, like many others I was looking for something to do while I waited and to my great delight, the makers of For Honor, Far Cry and the Just Dance games and Ubisoft opened the beta for Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands (GRW) on Thursday, February 23rd and expired on Sunday, February 26th, an hour or so before the Oscars.  Congratulations La La Land, oops, I mean Moonlight.

The 14th edition of Ghost Recon has the squad executing Operation Kingslayer. The Ghosts are out in Bolivia, assisting the local resistance against the Santa Blanca drug cartel headed by the boss of Bolivian bosses El Sueño. GRW is a first-person shooter set in the open world of a fictitious rural Bolivia. The beta opened up the provinces of Itacua and Montuyoc. Similar to The Division, Ubisoft has done a great job with the sweeping graphics. Although there are roads and trails throughout, I spent some time hiking through the woods looking at some of the scenic vistas. Unlike another of my favorite open world games, Far Cry 4, the potential of getting maimed while hiking is greatly reduced, but base jumping off of mountains is still quite fatal should you forget to equip and then use your parachute. I know for some running from the rhino was a plus, but the snakes in one game had me screaming like a …

The game can be played solo or in the cooperative mode. For the beta, I stayed solo to make sure I could get through a majority of the two provinces. If you’re not real familiar with the controls, helpful tutorials pop up, normally at good times. Naturally, the variety of vehicles (around 60) is a hoot. Even if controlling them can be an irksome challenge. The normal cars, trucks, jeeps, motorcycles, planes, and helicopters are present. There is also an armored personnel carrier, which does not absorb as much damage as one would think. The helicopter and the airplane are interesting to control. No way as bad as the Halo Warthog, but being heavy on the stick, can have you smashed into a hill in the countryside pretty easy. Also be careful in the air, there can be surprises streaking around up there. Occasionally, I had to go looking and crashed into a mountain before I found the help, but hey I should have paid attention the first time.  

The artificial intelligence (AI) bots that fill out the rest of your squad can be a real hindrance if you assume that they will be real responsive. The joyous task wheel is here, freezing you in the middle of battle, just like many other open world games. As a result, appropriate use of cover is advised when issuing any commands to your squad. Also, the protective cover can be a little iffy sometimes, so don’t assume that if you can’t see them they can’t hit you.  I died a few times thinking, erroneously, that I was in cover. But don’t worry, often one of your squad mates will yell at you to get back into cover just before you die. Also, be mindful that although present, the AIs seem to engage when they feel like it. Sometimes they will prompt you if an enemy is nearby and sometimes they sit there while you are being shot. Fortunately, your squad can revive you, once, during an incursion.

The accessories are done well. You can modify your weapons at caches located at the safe houses and throughout the provinces. While the binoculars are nice, the drone is invaluable not only for locating enemies, but sometimes it is necessary just to find the way into a bunker or base. The accessories, skills, and rebel support are all upgradeable based on the number of resources you locate and tag during your travels. One of the most interesting things is the orange-red threat halo that envelops an enemy as you view them. Sometimes the halo obscures the target, so be mindful if you are sniping as the halo can ruin a perfectly lined up headshot.

There is nothing really new here for an open world game. But based on the beta, this seems like one of those great games you play with your crew when you just can’t take the alt-right haters, lonely squeakers, and arrogant f#^@$ anymore on any of the various lobbies for any of the popular first-person shooters. This game promises hours of enjoyment as you traverse the provinces saving rural Bolivia from the drug cartel.  While not at the top of my list for March video game releases, as you are looking at your limited funds or considering trading-in some old games, this could be another one to pick up, if not this month, maybe in a month or two. On a side note, for those of you who actually still read books, there is a companion novel for the game.  

Both the novel and GRW (#ghostrecon) go on sale March 7th.

E. Angel is an engineer and holds a BS in electrical engineering from North Carolina A&T State University. She’s a real nerd who loves all things Star Wars and Star Trek and is an avid gamer. E.Angel can be reached at e9of10@gmail.com or on either game platform as Bunnehs Sister.

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