The wait is over, the superb Ghost Recon series is back at full throttle with Future Soldier, another gadget filled masterpiece from the Tom Clancy & Ubisoft partnership.
Being a big fan of all Ghost Recons to date I eagerly awaited the release of Ghost Recon Future Soldier, I was lucky to have had a sneak peak of the single player last September at GAMEfest when an eager Matt Benson (Ubisoft UK Brand Manager) couldn’t resist showing the game off.
GR:FS is a third person shooter that plays out like an FPS that’s action packed from the get-go, split across four acts that are set in Africa, Norway, Pakistan & Russia with 14 campaign missions to complete that does seem a bit rushed at times.
[Are you Elite Enough] If you like a challenge then like me you’ll have the difficulty ramped up and set on Elite, Thing of this as being similar to that of Veteran difficulty on Activisions CoD series.
[True to the series] there’s still some element of being a squad commander, but unlike previous GRAW’s there’s no squad movement controls that some gamers may have found tricky to master, there is sync shot though, where you can paint up to four targets, your team mates AI or co-op) can the take aim and get ready for coordinated kills, this is a brilliant feature that is bound to be copied by others and seen again and then there’s the camoflage suit that gives the ghosts a unique ability that enables them to cloak themselves into their surrounding environment, which works until you fire a weapon, stand up, or run.
[More weapons than you can shake a stick at with Gunsmith’ery] Ghost Recon Future Soldier has a selection of over 50 weapons for you to customise from a selection of 600 components from seven categories that include such things as paint schemes, armour piercing, sniper scopes, custom stocks, extended barrels and bipods, which enable to you to find a weapon perfectly suited to your style of game play and in multiplayer every time you level up your character you unlock attachment tokens to be used on weapons specific to that class. Most weapons can be customised fully, and if you have a Kinect Sensor you can use it in Gunsmtih.
GRFS has a learning curve that walks you through any new tech you’ve been given, and the gadget freaks among us will love the gadgets you’re given every few levels, such as the portable UAV’s that can also be landed and used on the ground as a remote control drone to mark target or send a shockwave to stun enemies, The UAV’s are a big improvement on the previous Drones used in the past, then there’s a superb intelligent HUD that also has magnetic view to pick out metal objects such as armed enemies and things like landmines and then there’s Warhound, a mobile artillery platform that’s capable of launching sidewinder missiles and mortars.
All this new tech is backed up with some pretty decent AI squad members who tend to look after themselves by finding cover when stealth is needed and also finding cover when under fire, They have also seem to have been taught the basics when it comes to arch’s of fire and how to stay out of your, which is something that a lot of other shooters AI team mates fail to do Battlefield 3, MoH 2010 come to mind), There’s also a pretty decent cover system that makes finding cover and then moving between cover easy with cover-dash.
[Fire Team Leader] Enemy tagging is not new, we’ve seen it in Splinter Cell and even more recently in Sniper Elite v2, In GR:FS though you can tag upto 4 enemies, when you do so one of your team members will reposition themselves and find the best line of fire to engage that target, you have the option of tagging targets for your team mates to take down while you keep lookout or you can tag four targets for a simultaneous takedown on your command, you have to be tactical though as bodies can be found by any enemies still in the same area and they will raise the alarm and you could soon be facing more enemies.
[Environments – Graphics] both of these play a big part in the success or failure of a game, and like it’s predessors (GRAW & GRAW2) Ghost Recon Future Solider uses the same Yeti engine, although in a heavily modified guise, this engine was good back in 2007, and it still looks good now, although there is the issue of flat textures and I’m guessing that’s why most of the environments are fairly small, the engine is superb at rendering everything else from weapons to the gadgets though. The environments although superb looking and well done are very linear, which suits the linear story of campaign whereby each mission gives you a single objective and only a few additional side challenges, such as killing x amount of enemies with a certain gun type, or not harming civilian’s etc, completion of these challenges enable you to unlock new weapon and attachments for you to customise you load out.
[Co-op & Multiplayer] Every game nowadays with the exception of a few (Skyrim) has to be seen giving players the ability to butt heads online with other gamers, some can carry off the multiplayer components and some cannot, and in a genre that’s saturated with popular online military shooters your multiplayer component has to be good to succeed against the mighty Call of Duties and Battlefield series, luckily for GR:FS there was a beta that helped to iron out some issues resulting in 3 more multiplayer modes being included in the released game, we now have the original Conflict, Guerilla & Saboteur modes with Decoy, Siege added and a split-screen Co-Op Campaign being added via a patch.
Conflict sees two teams competing to see who can get the most objectives done in 15 minutes, Guerilla is your standard Horde mode where you and your team has to survive as many of the 50 waves of increasingly difficult enemies you can, Saboteur is a race to carry a bomb to your opposing team’s detonation area, while Decoy has a real objective and two decoy traps, and Siege has two teams either defending or attacking a base against the clock with no respawns, Although the Multiplayer is fun, it suffers from only having two maps for each multiplayer mode and just four maps for Guerilla mode, there is a content drop scheduled for July, but just how long GRFS players can keep playing on the same maps for decide the online components fate.
[Character classes] GR:FS has three character classes to start with and another two that can be unlocked when you reach level 50, all 5 character classes seem to have been inspired by other military shooters such as Battlefield 3.
Online gameplay is very team focused and clearly the best way to win the round, bonuses, upgrades and kill bonuses would seem to be with the help of your squad mates, and if you get on a team with the right kind of players it works really well, if on the other hand you find yourself with the lone wolf type or spray and pray heroes it may take you a while to progress.
[Co-op’s where it’s at] Being a gamer who cares more about a games campaign mode than the games multiplayer mode I was happy to see 4 player co-op, and to me this is what Ghost Recon Future Soldier is all about, being able to redo the campaign mission with upto 3 friends or 3 complete strangers is what sets many Tom Clancy titles apart from the rest, to this day some of my most memorable online gaming moments from back in the day were while playing the likes of the G.R.A.W and Rainbow Six series in online co-op, the game play was immense, and GRFS still has that addictive co-op mode..
[Achieving the Trophy] One of my biggest bug bears with game design is when too many of the games achievements and trophies have to be unlocked in multiplayer modes, why’s that? Well it’s simply because not every gamer (myself included) has a desire to play all games online, unfortunately Ghost Recon: Future Soldier has 480GS of Achievements that are linked to multiplayer, such as spend 25 attachment tokens (you need to get to level 14) and there’s another for getting your character to level 50 so these will require a lot of online play.
GR:FS is almost a perfect game. It’s got loads of tech, intense action, great set pieces and environments and superb (if not short 10-11hrs) campaign and co-op modes, although being a huge fan of the series I’d have liked to have seen the game a bit less linear, thus giving players more freedom to get to objectives in a way that they want, and then there’s the multiplayer modes that need additional maps to keep gameplay varied and fun.
I have mixed feelings about the game being linear as I prefer freedom of movement, so in one respect I’d have liked to have seen the game more open world, giving a bit more freedom to get to the objects how you wanted to, although making the mission maps too big may make the squad based game play that the Ghost Recon series is known for harder to achieve. I’d like to see future DLC releases feature more campaign/co-op missions than just multiplayer maps so that gamers who prefer campaign/co-op can also continue to play Future Soldier.
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is a superb alternative to the generic FPS’s out there and literally brings the Ghost Recon franchise back into the Game.
This review is based on a PS3 review copy sent by Ubisoft UK and a retail Xbox 360 purchased by Game-Play.tv
[Awaiting Game-Play Video]