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This week in Zero Punctuation, Yahtzee reviews Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Breakpoint.


Prologue: Limited Edition Spooky ZP Merch Edit

The last limited sale of ZP shirts and hats did so well, Sharkrobot's doing another one with some new spooky designs, all going away October 23rd, and in the first 48 hours, you can use coupon code "SPOOKYZP" for 10% off, so don't miss out! Look, this one glows in the dark! Ooh!

Transcript Edit

Isn't it a shame in today's economy that the average age of retirement keeps getting later and later? Poor old Tom Clancy's been dead for six years, and he still has to show up for work! What, has the rent on his grave gone up? Does it cost a lot to run the sound system that constantly blares Stars and Stripes Forever into his casket?

As someone who fondly remembers a time when there was still auteurism in mainstream gaming - American McGee's Alice, Clive Jericho's Barker, and all that - the Ubisoft swarm continuing to slap the name of a corpse onto its hideous, hyper-capitalist, live service garbage feels like a move specifically designed to annoy me; surely, it's eventually got to occur to one of those duplicated Sorcerer's Apprentice broomsticks at Ubisoft that putting the name of a literal corpse on a game and implying that the game was solely authored and directed by an immobile, mindless, stinking corpse might not be the greatest sales pitch! Although, I'll grant you, I can't fault it for honest advertising; after having played A Stinking Corpse's Ghost Recon Breakpoint, I've realized that it is officially the game in which the A Stinking Corpse Ubisoft Sandbox finally dropped all pretense. I know I said something similar about A Stinking Corpse's Ghost Recon Wildlands, but I guess I underestimated just how many layers of frilly pretenses A Stinking Corpse was wearing under his funeral suit! I think he's finally dropped his last pair of pretenses, though.

Ghost Recon Breakwind (Have I used that one? Feels like I've used that one) starts with our protagonist soldier with a customizable face but non-customizable very growly voice and grumpy attitude arriving at a hostile territory by helicopter; the helicopter is shot down but our protagonist survives, and that's all the setup you're getting, except a few background story points established in a fucking white-on-black text screen beforehand. This is how I'd start a modern shooter if I were trying to take the piss out of modern shooters! "Start game, helicopter crash." It would have only been more on-the-nose if there'd been an unrecognizable voiceover by a film actor slumming it.

So, we survive the crash and are lost and helpless behind enemy lines for about nine seconds before we stumble upon a convenient, fully-stocked military camp full of friendly NPCs from which to stage permanent warfare against the unspecific, numberless force of generic enemy soldiers. See, this is what I mean by dropping all pretense of this being an original work, designed by a visionary to enrich your senses, rather than another fucking hacked-out looter-shooter designed by a corpse to enrich the shareholders. Who are we? Doesn't matter. Where are we? Who cares? How did we get here? Helicopter crash, the usual way! Stop asking questions and get addicted to the level-up sound effect, you fucking whale!

More plot does show up once you get into things; turns out you're on the island of nerds, where all the nerds came to start their own clubhouse where they can play D&D and design consumer electronics in peace, but then a bunch of jocks invaded, gave all the nerds wedgies, and forced them to make weapons and football trophies instead. So now it's up to you, as one of the nice jocks who doesn't actively bully nerds and actually quite liked the Christopher Nolan Batman films, to teach the bad jocks a lesson. Kind of plays like a reject Far Cry plot, with all the quirkiness sucked out, but it turns out the main villain is one of your old comrades, which is more of a Call of Duty plot device, I think; in Call of Duty, the growly American soldier protagonist is basically a superhero, so they always do the standard superhero plot, where the villain has all the hero's powers but uses them for evil, like Venom to Spider-Man, or Romero to Carmack.

Ghost Recon Breakdance doesn't play terribly well in the core loop, for starters. The camera feels a bit too close to my burly buttocks; you use grenades and healing items with the same fucking button, so you'd better remember what you've got equipped, lest you desperately fling a handful of band-aids at an entrenched foe before diving into cover and rubbing a smoke grenade on your leg; and we continue this bizarre AAA-game obsession with requiring us to hold down a button every time we do a contextual action in a way that always makes things feel clunky, like we're figuring out how to record on an ancient VCR.

But on one hand, there are things we do, and on the other, there is the world on which we do it, and Ghost Recon Nervous Breakdown's sandbox is a monument to lack of effort. Before a pack of rabid, sleep-deprived QA testers declare jihad on me for saying that, what I mean is, there's no creativity behind it; there's nothing to discover from exploring it, unless you're really into leaves or modern architecture, and that's probably why they give you infinite respawning helicopters right off the bat. There are fast travel points you have to physically visit to unlock, but you can claim it as yours just by flying low enough in the helicopter to gob out the window.

Enemy bases and strongholds dot the map like genital warts, each one a thoughtless sprawl of buildings sprinkled with generic baddies who are under no obligation to clear out, so most of the time, I'd just make a beeline to the objective and hide under a desk until any alerted enemies got bored and went back to counting their eyeballs. Sometimes, it wasn't quite that easy, though, and a whole pack of the bastards would corner me, so I'd have to wait just inside a doorway for the enemy to go through their usual battle strategy: enter door in single-file, wade through increasingly large sea of bodies, get shot in face, while friendly nerd hostages stand around indifferently, chewing Japanese confectionery with their mouths open just for an extra touch of the surreal.

So it's a poor showing for AI across the board; lucky this isn't trying to be a tactical shooter or anything. I don't know what it's trying to do; just as Ubisoft flinches in terror now if you make the slightest suggestion that their stories have a political stance, they now seem frightened even of giving us the merest hint of a gameplay obligation. "Hey, do this mission! Or don't! Either's fine! Well done! Here's your reward: a rifle identical to your current one but with a green number on it." There's no ambition to innovate or challenge here, no ideology, nothing to do or nothing to say. Well, I suppose it's saying one thing: "Please give us all your money." The reaction to this game has been encouraging; the general public are a jaded and beaten-down flock of meat animals, but at least there's still some level of bullshit that will provoke a kick from the hind legs. But let me emphasize as hard as I can that this shit has gotten COMPLETELY FUCKING MENTAL.

The in-game store of Ghost Recon Breakeven is bigger than my local Whole Foods: guns, upgrades, hats, trousers, emotes, icons-- ICONS?! Who on this good green Earth has ever glanced at someone else's custom multiplayer icon for more than a fucking nanosecond and said, "Ooh, here's someone I need to take seriously."? And let's not forget, you can buy what's termed "timesavers"; so first we buy your game, Ubisoft, and then you charge us more money to not have to play it? If I paid double price up front, would you just not give it to me at all? Take a step back, people, because this has all gotten way too fucking normalized. When you charge money for something you can produce infinitely at zero cost, like in-game currency, that's not a service; that is the fucking death of economics as a concept. How the fuck did we get here from basic principles of trade?! It's like walking up to a dude in the stocks in the village square and saying, "If you give me three turnips, I'll spit in your face."

Addenda Edit

  • Full metal accountant: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
  • Was there ever a time when this franchise was about realistic tactical combat or did I dream that
  • But please postpone revolution until after you've bought all my books

Extra: Will Destroy the Galaxy for Cash Edit

My latest book in the Jacques McKeown saga, Will Destroy the Galaxy for Cash, is available now from audible.com! As an audiobook. Obviously. That's kind of their whole thing.

Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2018
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart · The Surge · Injustice 2 · Vanquish · E3 2017 · Strafe
Q3 Get Even · Hollow Knight / Dead Cells · Fifth Console Generation · The End is Nigh, and Yonder: Cloud Catcher Chronicles · Pyre · Splatoon 2 · Hellblade · Agents of Mayhem · Sonic Mania · Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle · Destiny 2 · Metroid: Samus Returns
Q4 Knack 2 and SteamWorld Dig 2 · Cuphead · Hob and A Hat in Time · Middle-earth: Shadow of War · The Evil Within 2 · Super Mario Odyssey · Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus · Assassin's Creed Origins · Sonic Forces · Star Wars Battlefront II · Hand of Fate 2 · South Park: The Fractured but Whole
2018
Q1 Top 5 of 2017 · Okami HD · PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds · Fortnite and Dusk · Doki Doki Literature Club! · The Inpatient and Doom VFR · Monster Hunter World · Subnautica · Kingdom Come: Deliverance · Metal Gear Survive · Hot Coffee · Hunt Down The Freeman · Ghost of a Tale
Q2 A Way Out · Far Cry 5 · Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom · Extinction and Attack on Titan 2 · God of War 4 · Yakuza 6: The Song of Life · Silent Hill 4: The Room · Conan Exiles · House Flipper and FAR: Lone Sails · Detroit Become Human · Agony · E3 2018 · Vampyr
Q3 Jurassic World Evolution · Resident Evil 4 · Totally Accurate Battlegrounds and Moonlighter · The Crew 2 · Octopath Traveler · Observer · Chasm and This Is the Police 2 · We Happy Few · Unavowed · Guacamelee! 2 and Not Tonight · Shenmue · Marvel's Spider-Man · Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Q4 Dragon Quest XI · Star Control: Origins · Star Control: Origins · Assassin's Creed Odyssey · Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 · Return of the Obra Dinn · The Missing: J.J. Macfield and the Island of Memories · Red Dead Redemption 2 · Call of Cthulhu · Fallout 76 · Hitman 2 and Killer7 · Darksiders III · Just Cause 4
2019
Q1 Top 5 of 2018 · Super Smash Bros. Ultimate · Gris and Ashen · Katamari Damacy Reroll · Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes · Resident Evil 2 · Kingdom Hearts III · Metro Exodus · Far Cry New Dawn · Anthem · Crackdown 3 · Left Alive · Devil May Cry 5
Q2 The Division 2 · Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice · Unheard and Outward · Yoshi's Crafted World · Mortal Kombat 11 · Katana Zero · Days Gone · Close to the Sun · Rage 2 · Observation · A Plague Tale: Innocence · E3 2019 · Blood: Fresh Supply
Q3 Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night · Judgment · The Sinking City · My Friend Pedro and Sea of Solitude · Acclaim Entertainment Hall of Shame · Wolfenstein: Youngblood · Horace · Rebel Galaxy Outlaw · Control · The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan · Remnant: From The Ashes · Blair Witch · Gears 5
Q4 Astral Chain · Contra: Rogue Corps · Ghost Recon Breakpoint · Indivisible · The Outer Worlds · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare · Luigi's Mansion 3 · Death Stranding · Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order · Shenmue III · 2019 Games I Haven't Reviewed Roundup
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