Very few titles available at a system's launch are ever worth the price of admission. Thing is, they don't have to be: early adopters don't have any other choices, and they certainly aren't taking home that shiny new box with nothing to play. If a launch window game isn't a glitchy, feature-stripped port of a last-gen game, then it may just be the best of the bunch.
Ubisoft in particular doesn't have a great track record when it comes to launch games. They were the first third party to reveal their Wii hand with the ambitious and roundly disappointing Red Steel, threw straight up shovelware at the DS, and didn't exactly set any precedents at the dawn of the HD era, either. For the 3DS, Ubi's launch day contributions took the forms of Rayman 3D, Asphalt 3D, Combat of Giants: Dinosaurs 3D, and Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars.
It doesn't surprise me, then, that Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars is a technical mess. The visuals wouldn't turn heads on PSP, slowdown is common, and everything just feels rough around the edges. Oh, and then the game freezes every now and then. Sometimes you'll get the black screen of death, other times the audio will stop and the display will just fade out. In the time I was playing, Shadow Wars crashed on me a grand total of ten times.
What surprises me is that, despite these glaring technical issues, I will still recommend the game to 3DS early adopters.
As much as Nintendo frustrates me with their recent localization decisions, they have their triumphs as well. Releasing Sin & Punishment on the Virtual Console outside of Japan was a victory, effortless as it might have been. Rhythm Tengoku was a niche hit on the Game Boy Advance, but its DS follow-up had even Beyonce singing its praises. And when Nintendo finally brought its Famicom Wars and Fire Emblem strategy games to the west on the GBA, gamers outside of Japan suddenly had two new franchises to thank the Big N for.
And they're not the only ones: Julian Gollop, creator of the X-COM: UFO Defense series, is a big fan of Advance Wars and Fire Emblem. He said as much in a refreshingly candid interview about his newest game, Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars, a 3DS launch title that Gollop was inspired to create after experiencing Nintendo's strategy duo.
I've had only brief experiences with the strategy genre as it exists on PC, where Gollop's games mostly reside. And I've played maybe ten minutes of a Ghost Recon game. But I am a big fan of games like Advance Wars: Dual Strike and Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance. And though I'm eager to see what Nintendo has in store for those franchises in the future, I know what I'll be getting: more of the same. On the other hand, Gollop's take on turn-based tactics might introduce some fresh elements to the formula. Let's see if any of those show up within the game's first thirty minutes.