There's an old Chris Rock joke about the price of bullets - about making them so expensive that people would be forced to think very carefully about who they shot. While it's not fair to suggest that the consumables in Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Phantoms are as pricey as they are in the alternate reality Rock considers, the joke was going through my mind as I hurled my grenades and chambered my magnum rounds. Those things had cost me, and I wondered if it might have been wiser to save up for a new assault rifle instead. After all, the next one would be marginally more effective.
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Phantoms is the free-to-play Ghost Recon Online by another name. It's earned this new moniker after graduating from a lengthy open beta phase, during which Marsh Davies, in our Ghost Recon Online review, described it as "rough in places, imperfectly balanced... and occasionally thrilling." I think Marsh was dead on. Is dead on. Two years on, I have found myself occasionally thrilled and, before reading Marsh's reflections on the game, I also found myself having exactly the same thought that he did: when my assault soldier sprints, he leaves the world of Tom Clancy and enters that of Benny Hill. Perhaps this is a crossover?
There are strange things going on here. I've always associated Tom Clancy with that sort of rigid Republicanism that conflates deadly force and rigorously trained young men with justice and retribution, extolling a philosophy that's never far from suggesting that if something threatens your humourless way of life, you can probably blow it up. But, alongside its many, many guns and the grim and expressionless men who wield them, Phantoms also has a host of strange devices that don't really project the same sense of dignity. There's that assault shield that makes you go all Benny Hill. There's a bullet-deflecting force field that feels a bit 1950s sci-fi. There's a microwave weapon which I wouldn't take seriously even if it was in XCOM.
UPDATE 11/04 9.15AM GMT: Ghost Recon Phantoms is out now on Steam and has a fancy new trailer to mark the occasion.
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Online publisher Ubisoft has explained its decision to launch the long-in-beta shooter via the increasingly-popular Steam Early Access.
Its launch on Valve's digital platform follows a string of Early Access successes, such as Rust and DayZ. Yesterday, Bugbear decided to sell its unfinished Next Car Game via the service.
Ubisoft is the first big third-party publisher to dabble with the platform.
Gamer Network, which publishes Eurogamer.net, has announced that this year's Rezzed show in Birmingham will have a host of Ubisoft games for attendees to play, including the extremely promising Splinter Cell: Blacklist.
Somehow, Ubisoft has managed to make a free game feel expensive. At the centre of Ghost Recon Online, which now enters an open beta phase that's tantamount to a full launch, is a competent military team shooter which cleverly subverts its stolid cover tactics with overpowering bursts of exotic, futuristic powers. It's light on content, rough in places, and imperfectly balanced - but the ebb and flow of its action is unusually thoughtful and occasionally thrilling.
Unfortunately, that well-considered core has been rolled around in the muck of micro-transactions which feel at best miserly and at worst predatory, before being delivered to the player in a malfunctioning software package which flouts some of the basic conventions for how respectable programs should behave.
Rating it on the exchange of bullets alone, however, it's a modest but enjoyable thing - a slight offering with only four maps, two game modes and three classes, each being a persistent upgradeable avatar. It's quite possible that this base level of free content will expand, but in a game which charges you for every grenade, you wouldn't want to bet on Ubisoft's generosity.
Free-to-play PC shooter Ghost Recon Online has moved into open beta, publisher Ubisoft has quietly announced.
The game is now publicly available to download and play, a message on the Ghost Recon Online blog revealed.
You'll need a free Uplay account to sign up - if you've played a Ubisoft game over the last few years, its likely you'll have a login knocking around.
It's been a few weeks now since Rezzed concluded, but we thought you still might be interested in checking out a couple of developer session videos that slipped down the back of the sofa. Ubisoft was at Rezzed in force, presenting Ghost Recon Online and ShootMania Storm to the audience on the show floor and in the sessions auditorium.
Ubisoft took the stage to introduce its free-to-play Tom Clancy online shooter and take questions.
Not content with Peter Molyneux, Randy Pitchford, Dean Hall and Paul Wedgwood (plus all the others), we're happy to announce today that Ghost Recon Online and ShootMania Storm will also be on next week's Rezzed developer session schedule.
Ubisoft is uncertain on when Ghost Recon Online will launch on Wii U.
The free-to-play PC shooter was confirmed for Nintendo's next console back at E3 2011, alongside fellow Ubisoft titles Assassin's Creed 3 and Killer Freaks From Outer Space (now ZombiU).
But, this year, Ghost Recon Online was notably missing from the publisher's Wii U line-up.
PC versions of Far Cry 3, Ghost Recon Online and Shootmania will all be playable at Rezzed: The PC and Indie Games Show, the organisers have announced. (We're the organisers, incidentally - just trying to sound flash. La di dah.)
Upcoming PC shooter Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Online will help Ubisoft test the waters of free-to-play gaming, the publisher has told Eurogamer.
Once upon a time gaming required a single disc, or cartridge, or, going back further, a cassette tape, and a gamer.
Take with a pinch Apepper?
UPDATE: Ubisoft's unverified list of 2012 release dates is "inaccurate", the publisher has told Eurogamer.
Stanislas Mettra, the I Am Alive creative director who made controversial remarks about PC gaming this week, has attempted to retract/explain/downplay his outburst.
Somewhere down the line, Ubisoft transformed Ghost Recon: Future Soldier on PC into the free-to-play game Ghost Recon Online.
The lack of dedicated PC Ghost Recon titles was a result of the sorry state of the retail market for the platform, Ubisoft has explained.
Ubisoft has taken the wraps off Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Online, a PC MMO take on its long-running tactical shooter franchise.
Developed by Ubisoft Singapore, it will be free-to-play with premium items available for purchase.
Gameplay details are thin on the ground right now, but it seems you'll be able to choose between three different classes of soldier, each of which will be fully customisable. Regular events and content updates are promised, as well as a "rich lobby platform" for hosting social and persistent progression features.