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3DS  header logo

Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars

For: 3DS

Turn around

Product: Ghost Recon Shadow Wars | Publisher: Ubisoft | Format: 3DS | Genre: Strategy | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Ghost Recon Shadow Wars 3DS, thumbnail 1
It’d be easy to dismiss Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars as the runt of the 3DS launch line-up litter.

Launching with little to no fanfare in terms of advertising, sporting some less-than attractive screenshots on the box, and lacking as powerful a brand-name as Street Fighter or Nintendogs, the game is likely to join the rank and file of ‘launch games no-one remembers’ like Kameo and X-Squad in a few months' time.

Which is a shame. While it may not be quite be the game Advance Wars or X-Com fans were hoping for, Shadow Wars still offers a worthwhile tactical gaming experience.

Tom Clancy in the 25th Century

Even those coming off the back of Advanced Warfighter’s universe of sci-fi modern soldiery will be slightly surprised at how detached from real life this latest Ghost Recon title is.

While the start of the game is spent in fairly normal Tom Clancy-style situations - fighting terrorists in Kazakhstan and uncovering a plot by ultra-nationalist Russians - by the time the third chapter rolls around you’ll be using a cloaking device to sneak past robots to activate security panels like some ninja from the 23rd century.

As you can guess from the screenshots, however, the graphics themselves aren’t exactly futuristic. The 3D effects appear to be restricted to the occasional menus, as well as making the (plentiful) chasms in the exterior missions look a little more ‘chasmy’. They have no effect on the gameplay.

In other words, it’s not exactly a title you’d use to demonstrate your fancy new 3D machine to friends with.


The unwelcoming graphics and involvement of one of the key figures in squad-based TBS games - X-com co-creator Julian Gollop - may suggest that Shadow Wars will be a harsh mistress to all but the most ardent fans of the genre, but this is surprisingly not the case at all.

In fact, the pacing of the introduction is one of the best I’ve seen in a long time - introducing new concepts and detailing key elements to watch out for on the bottom screen at a rate that never makes you feel either overwhelmed or bored.

By the time the game starts going sci-fi mad on you, you’ll be comfortable with line of sight, using cover, planning out the best place to return fire, and when to swap to your selected ghost’s secondary weapon. It also helps that the game manages to keep all the relevant information you need when taking your moves clear and concise.

There are certain elements of Shadow Wars that may come across as a little ‘streamlined’ compared to earlier titles in the genre - not being able to change pose or choose a direction takes a little getting used to for Laser Squad veterans like ourselves.

This does have the knock-on effect of making the action relatively quick, even if some of the rules can come across as too abstract at times - I’m still confused about how some tree branches can conceal you on the ground.

Battle plans

The campaign itself is arguably the longest single-player mode of all the 3DS titles so far, with missions that develop over the course of a level helping to keep things fresh despite the length.

One of the early missions, for instance, starts off with your squad of ghosts taking a hill top position held by the enemy, sitting tight for a few turns to get into the right positions, and then taking out an enemy convoy passing in the valley below.

Others introduce optional secondary objectives that reward more stars that are used to upgrade your ghosts between levels, although the levelling path is disappointingly linear and inconsequential in the main.

Man down, man down

Not everything about Ghost Recon is quite so special, though.

There's an annoying tendency for interior missions to spawn enemies suddenly in the next room, which is a real pain if it results in the death of a ghost, effectively forcing a restart.

Outside the campaign, the lack of online or local wireless multiplayer is a glaring omission for a game of this genre, especially as the 3DS is far more capable of handling online play than its predecessors.

And that's the thing - Shadow Wars feels more like a good DS game than a good 3DS title, thanks to the the fairly low-key 3D effects and the absence of any 3DS specific features.

But while the Street Fighter 3Ds and the Pilotwings may offer a better demonstration of what the new machine is capable of, Shadow Wars will be the game you'll most likely return to once the thrill of the new screen has worn off.
Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars
Reviewer photo
Will Wilson | 30 March 2011
Shadow Wars is a turn-based strategy that's easy on newcomers but with enough depth for veterans of the genre to enjoy as well
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