Games: Wildlands fully pumped with bullets, brawn and wham-bam action
Ghost Recon: Wildlands (PS4)
THE tenth instalment in Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon series could have been inspired by an early morning, all-caps Trump tweet. In fact, the Bolivian government has filed an official complaint over the game's premise of their homeland overrun with drug lords who need a hobnail in the jacksie from Yankee roughnecks.
The first full-fat Ghost Recon since 2012's Future Soldier, Wildlands inevitably traipses down Ubisoft's well-trodden open-world route for a sprawling sandbox shooter that can be tackled solo with AI teammates or cooperatively online with three flesh-and-blood compadres. With the Santa Blanca drug cartel turning Bolivia into the world's largest cocaine producer, only American interventionism gone wild can save the day as your four-man Ghost taskforce shoots first and asks questions later.
A slice of military hooey fully loaded with weapons and cool gear, Wildlands is a mix of barking orders and pounding firefights as your all-American meatheads disrupt the cartel in a variety of ways, approaching each situation as players see fit. On top of a groaning arsenal are cars, helicopters, military-grade gadgets and – being Bolivia – llamas. Lots of llamas.
The gunplay is polished and reliable, with only a shonky cover system leading to cheap deaths. The environments are mindblowingly big, with a huge, detailed map that puts even Grand Theft Auto V to shame. Unfortunately, all of this wonderfully realised acreage falls foul of the recent fashion for task-studded maps, scores of fortified outposts to clear and side missions to hoover up.
Wildlands is reconstituted from Ubisoft's patented open-world mix (just add sweat) when it would have benefitted from the epic, scripted missions of classic Ghost Recons rather than the icon-chasing of Watch Dogs, Assassin's Creed or Far Cry.
There are few variations on the basic theme of heading to a location, sending up a drone and sneaking to the next objective marker. Missions end up echoing one another and while targets may change, the actual methods rarely do. Swap out your AI controlled squad for humans, though, and Wildlands is a revelation – easily one of the best online co-ops in years. Matchmaking is slick while your squad can communicate over voice chat and tackle missions however they please.
Offering some of the best buddy gunplay in years, Wildlands is yet another big budget romp in an Ubisoft open world, delivering hours of patriotic junk food for armchair squaddies after some lug-headed escapism. White trash fantasy it may be, if bullets and wham-bam action are all you crave, Wildlands is pumped up with enough brawn and bang to have you draping yourself in Old Glory.