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Ghost Recon: Future Soldier Review

/ Jun 4th, 2012 No Comments

Future Soldier Screenshot

Ghost Recon: Future Soldier Review

Ghost Recon: Future Soldier Review

The gaming industry is awash with shooters attempting to recreate battle after battle of one historic war or another. More recent games are bucking this trend and taking a shot at defining an experience that encapsulates current or near-future warfare while keeping a close eye on today’s military landscape. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier gives us the familiar world of guns, warlords, death, and explosions while introducing some exciting gameplay elements that offer a unique take on how a potentially stale genre can feel fresh.

Future Soldier fits the tried-and-true tableau of many modern day military shooters. You and your fellow Ghosts will come across war-torn villages and cities affected by years of strife and full of human collateral damage, dusty refugee camps hit by blinding sandstorms, even a secluded military base in the snow. The storyline is, for the most part, normal fare but has enough twists and realism to be enjoyable. What starts out as a mission to trace the origins of a bomb that killed a former team unfolds into gunrunning, political upheaval, and general destabilization of the world order. All the drama is presented through missions that are not only moderately lengthy but well-paced.

There are moments in between all the shooting and “world in danger” scenarios that the plot of Future Soldier tries to touch upon something more subtle and emotional. Before new missions you are given snippets of the Ghosts without their gear on eating, talking, and generally trying to let off steam from a trying day at “work”. Being constantly submerged in turmoil and death does bring out anger and sadness for these men and there are fleeting moments where you feel for them. However, dialogue and conversations have overly macho flair and the drama can suffer; which isn’t helped by the impersonal facial animations and character models. Only when the characters are wearing their gear and in the middle of missions do they feel like real people. Bantering dialogue provided a few laughs and gave some insight into their personalities and, for a few moments, made me feel like I wasn’t playing as an almost nameless character. A few times during missions you will encounter civilians who are caught in the crossfire. There are poignant moments where you can choose to save these innocents who are being harassed by soldiers with guns or merely sneak past. Saving them feels like you are making an impact without having to blow up an enemy base or take down an evil arms dealer. It all hints at a game wanting to make a bigger statement but never reaching its full potential.

Future Soldier Screenshot

Future Soldier Screenshot

Don’t go into Future Soldier thinking you can rush into the middle of battle and shoot down everyone and be fine. This is a game where you have to think out your plan of attack; a tactical shooter where the best option is at times to never fire a shot at all. One of the best features of this game is the ability to tag targets (up to four) and execute a sync shot to silence them all simultaneously. It is a great gameplay element that makes you feel like a powerful death-dealer issuing kill shots but also makes you think about which enemies need to be taken down first so you won’t raise any alarms. The active camouflage system not only looks great but adds depth because you can’t fire guns and be invisible nor can you get too close without being spotted.

You won’t always find yourself in the position to be sneaky as quiet moments are often punctuated with explosions. Scenarios do force you to be in open combat and you must adjust your strategy appropriately. Often several enemies will throw suppressing fire on your position and the camera will zoom in and shake on your character behind cover. This simple touch is brilliant and one I would love to see in other games. The UAV drone is a great tool able to fly in the air to tag enemies for your team or capable of moving on the ground stunning enemies. A few sections ask you to combine the forms of the UAV for some thoughtful puzzle solving but these moments could have been much more plentiful.

Even though some of these environments are familiar territory for shooters; care was taken to make levels look and play believably, giving them enough variety and exceptional pacing to feel wholly unique. Mission highlights include a battle in an open street crowded with cars having to dash in and out of cover, a taut fight in an abandoned church, and a subdued approach to an enormous oil rig docked in the middle of a frozen sea. Moments like these are insanely fun and blend gameplay in inventive ways. Slow motion events where you protect a VIP in diamond formation or storm a building eliminating hostiles are inserted sparingly enough that they never feel overused. While the Gunsmith feature allows for some complex gun customization it isn’t fully necessary because you will pick your favorites and stick with them and it only truly opens up when you unlock better attachments.

After playing Future Soldier for a lengthy amount of time you will come to appreciate how great some parts of it look but also how parts of it lack a certain polish. The environments themselves show off the importance of atmosphere in a genre like this where locations and countries are frequently used. Sure, you’ve seen Africa and Eastern Europe before but not handled like this and certainly not with this style. From moving in and out of cover to opening a door and going invisible, watching the Ghosts work is a thing of beauty. Fluid animations make the gameplay come alive and make you forget about how clunky everyone is off the battlefield during cut scenes. Textures can look choppy up close and objects won’t always act the way they should. A couple times during firefights a body I shot would fall down flat only to begin bobbing up and down until the mission was over. Not once, though, did any of these problems ever turn into an issue for me because you are too busy enjoying the game.

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier

Overall, Future Soldier can feel far too easy at times even on the hardest difficulty. Since the game pushes for the silent approach you should be alerting enemies to your presence as few times as possible. This is made all the more easier since you can get your teammates to silently take out any threats. Only when your presence is alerted are you really in trouble and if you keep in cover you will be fine. One mission provides you with an advanced robot that can shoot infinite mortars and guided missiles at targets; you can go the entire mission and never fire a single shot of your own (though at the risk of feeling a bit cheap). I also never found myself running out of ammunition despite all of the ammo boxes littered around each level. Considering all this the game still remains fun and the difficulty and mission variety is assisted in several tactical challenges that are available. Challenges range from completing an objective in a certain time frame, getting multiple kills without reloading, or even snapping a specific number of necks. Completing these challenges unlocks items for your guns and at the end of each mission you will get a “Ghost” rating making perfectionists strive for that 100 percent.

There was an issue that would come across in some missions in which you would find yourself in a position to regroup or move on to the next objective (perhaps an extraction). All enemies were eliminated and a sequence would initiate where new enemies would rush into the area; suddenly you are ahead of your team and swamped with gunfire. Moments like this would always take me aback because I would usually die trying to rush back to my team and reach safe cover. This highlighted one of the few issues I had with friendly AI in the game: teammates can be frustratingly slow. Friendlies have a designated path to reach the next objective and you might find yourself moving ahead of them. The nature of Future Soldier urges you to figure out multiple ways to tackle a mission and unfortunately this can involve your team and you taking alternate paths because you went too far ahead to see them turn in the other direction. This problem is exacerbated when you are forced to regroup together while one or more teammates straggle behind, freezing you in place until they catch up. Despite all this, the friendly AI is very competent. They always update you when a new enemy appears, they are never spotted by enemies (even when walking right in front of them), and still pull off your tagged kills even if they take the long way around the area to get a good shot.

Any of these possible reservations you might have with friendly AI are swiftly resolved by playing the campaign cooperatively with up to three other friends. The gameplay is perfectly integrated for you and your friends to work together pulling of kills with speed and silent efficiency. In fact, some aspects of the game beg for you to play cooperatively. Several times you will need to clear areas without setting off any alerts which can be tricky when there more than five enemies. Performing sync shots with your team slows down time beautifully and briefly, giving you a few more exhilarating seconds to kill one more enemy. Your AI teammates don’t reap this same benefit but a co-op partner (or partners) can ensure no one is left alive to spot a dead body and trigger a longer and bloodier fight. Even some of the tactical mission challenges only feel possible when you have at least one other buddy helping you out. While some might find the single player a mindless distraction, the addition of co-op demands multiple plays.

Ghost Recon Review

Ghost Recon Review

Multiplayer is an entertaining, albeit familiar, experience that will please anyone who can’t get enough of what was offered during the campaign. First off is Guerilla mode which is Future Soldier’s take on Horde mode. You will face off against fifty waves of increasingly difficult enemies as you attempt to capture points, make stealthy kills, and defend locations. The mode is fun when played online or even split-screen especially when you are communicating with other players. Progressing in Guerilla mode will also unlock items for use in Gunsmith—just be prepared to fight for it.

Four other multiplayer modes are offered: Conflict, Saboteur, Decoy, and Siege. Decoy and Conflict are your standard multiplayer types with constantly changing objectives. Both teams try and score the most points by capturing objectives and taking out the competition. While Conflict is straightforward, Decoy changes things up by making two of three objectives a “decoy” while the other is real and awards points. Saboteur places a bomb in a neutral area and tasks teams to take the bomb to the opposition’s camp to blow it up. Siege asks you to complete objectives as well but there are no respawns in this mode, increasing the challenge. Like any multiplayer mode there is a bit of a hurdle for beginning players having to battle it out against higher leveled players with immensely better equipment. You need to gain experience to gain levels and unlock better equipment and weapons. It will take a few rounds before you really get the flow of matches but soon enough you will be killing along with the best of them. My favorite aspect of the multiplayer is the fact that it uses a class system. While there are only three classes (soldier, engineer, and scout) they have enough variety that you will want to level up each to have three unique ways to tackle the online

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is a great change of pace from most shooters of recent memory. The game demands more from the player than just the mindless shooting of soldier after soldier. To get things done you have to take a breath and think about your next move. It never ceases to be fun to play even while hitting a few graphical and gameplay hitches. Promises of a deeper message and story are affected by the more basic dialogue and cut scene animations. Still, Future Soldier provides a multiplayer experience anyone can enjoy, intelligent use of cooperative play, and a campaign that never feels tacked on making it one of the best shooters of recent memory.

Overall Ratings – Ghost Recon: Future Soldier (XBox 360)

Gameplay:

8/10

Graphics:

9/10

Sound:

8/10

Multiplayer:

9/10

OVERALL SCORE:

85%

Ben Sheene

Ben Sheene

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Ben is from Kentucky where he originally began playing games (an activity he still continues to this day). With a love for writing he graduated from Centre College with a BA in English. He recently moved to California to pursue whatever future endeavors were there. A passion for music, gaming, blogging, and existing keeps him up at night and crafts him into the person he is today.
Ben Sheene

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