The five year wait is finally over as the next installment to the popular Ghost Recon franchise has finally arrived sporting an intense and methodical approach to military warfare uncommon in today’s sea of shooters. While you may find some kinks in its armor, the overall package offered in Ghost Recon: Future Soldier will certainly keep you coming back for months. Staying true the cunning yet tactical team-based system which the franchise is famed for, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier can be considered one of the most authentic experiences of the genre to date.
Borrowing heavily from real-life rules of engagements, Future Soldier throws players into a four man military ghost squad in the not so distant future where small proxy wars are the order of business. Prior to your teams involvement an entire Ghost squad gets wiped out (an uncommon incident) during an explosion leaving the U.S. government wanting to follow the paper trail in order to find the true instigator of this action.
While Future Soldier offers an array of gameplay elements which immerse you into its up-close and personal gunplay affair, the games attention to detail prior to being deployed as well as your squad’s detailed behavior throughout missions is unrivaled.
Preparation is everything in Future Soldier
Mission briefings are highly detailed and informative with intel on how objectives should be executed offering both multiple challenges for the more ambitious players as well as a suggestive perspective on which weapons you should consider before deployment for different locales, which then introduces you to the robust and addictive Gunsmith. Beginning with weapons which are unlocked players eventually unlock more weapons as they complete mission and challenges. One of the common practices I found most useful during my time spent in Gunsmith was the option to visit the gun range. Upon selecting your weapon layout players can jump into a maneuverable range where you can test out weapons while moving, in cover, crouching or in prone. In addition, if players know how they want their weapons to perform without jumping into the range, tapping the directional pad brings up the four key weapon perspectives which are power, control, maneuverability and range. Depending on the mission and how you want to approach it, players can choose their weapon, tap the directional pad in the direction of their desired quick weapon choice and off you go. However, I would still recommend using the gun range as it just feels good letting off some steam before engaging the enemy.
Gunsmith can be considered the Gran Turismo of weapon customization containing a plethora of authentic weapons and options where gun lovers can spend hours customizing weapons and testing them out. Future Soldier really takes gun customizing to a completely new level as players are able to customize the trigger, paint, side rail, muzzle, stock, optics, magazine, under barrel, gas system and barrel. As more weapons are unlocked your stay in Gunsmith soon becomes more commonplace.
Future Soldiers makes you believe you are truly a part of a four man ghost squad as each encounter requires a disciplined level of commitment to your squad and your surroundings. Adding to this realism, the game features a seamless cinematic in-game asset which not only drives the action forward, but also bridges each level together rather nicely, reinforcing the importance of teamwork. Throughout, your squad will consistently call out potential threats, carefully hold their cover positions and react almost human like as they work together to re-position themselves for a more accurate kill shot. While earlier levels offer multiple approach options which certainly add to the campaigns replayability, some missions are more strict in their approach, forcing you to carefully assess your surroundings before engagement. In these situations, synchronizing multiple kill shots becomes the best option.
Target as many as four enemies and your team will wait for you to initiate the attack followed by their accurate death blow. If you choose not to pull the trigger and desire that your team do the dirty work then mark up to three enemies at once and when they have their target in range just hold R2 or RB depending on your console of choice and watch the magic happen. Mission progression also introduces newer more useful and high-tech equipment in the form of sensor grenades which allow players to detect enemy soldiers on the battlefield and from behind cover which is extremely useful. Aside from your standard frag grenades players will also make use of flashbang and incendiary grenades. Different locations will require that you enable night vision as well a magnetic vision enabling you and your squad to see through metal objects. One of the most useful gadgets introduced in Future Soldier is the new drone device which has multiple functionalities. The drone can take flight above the battlefield giving your squad that much needed visual advantage from above where players can then mark off targets of engagement. The drone can also be used to infiltrate unreachable levels of environment taking out enemies and disabling key machinery. Speaking of gadgets, once you get your hands on the mobile infantry unit known as the Warhound, the idea of future soldier really comes into play. I’ve chosen not to go into much detail on the Warhound as I’ll let that one be a surprise. It’s sure to entertain.
Players looking for the next best shooter have definitely come to the right place but please don’t approach this as you would Modern Warfare. Bullets in Future Soldier will kill you, make no mistake about it. Going guns blazing out in the open trying to take out enemies is only in the movies according to the Future Soldier approach. Future Soldier is a true 3rd person shooter offering an intuitive cover system which is new for the series. Due to the intensity of each encounter, the cover system mechanic enables players to smoothly move from cover to cover while never compromising their position in swift fashion. Because many cover position are destructible player must also be careful where they find cover. Whether finding cover, reloading your weapon, or delivering a fatal melee takedown, Future Soldier also offers a unique flair of style accompanied with it. Melee takedowns can be performed by sneaking up close on enemies given players the option to quietly take them out with a knife, a neck break or a close and quiet bullet to the head maneuver. If players want to better position a shot while in prone the option to move the left toggle right or left causes your ghost to roll in that direction. Even vaulting walls while in combat looks cool while bullets are flying around, but be sure to have your next cover position planned out ahead of time.
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier might not be the best looking shooter on the market, however the graphical direction in which the game is represents does have its advantages as well as its disadvantages. There are times when the game is pure eye-candy with level designs which are strikingly detailed with populated NPC’s which are depicted accurately. Draw distances seem almost reachable and weather effects look spot on. Even the Ghost themselves are visual detailed while weapons have a look of wear about them. Nevertheless, the visual details are not balanced throughout. Again, while the depiction of NPC’s are great adding a level of realism to the experience, many of their faces can appear underdeveloped lacking believable detail. Many cut scenes where our Ghost Team are recharging up for their next mission display their faces which lack the characters of the guys you’re going to battle with. While these minor shortcoming don’t take away from the games experience, more detail in this department would have certainly been a welcome enhancement.
Playing with three other friends in the games four player cooperative campaign mode and you realize just how unique this experience really is. With various encounters ranging from across the globe, from Pakistan, Russia, Zambia, Bolivia and more, coupled with the games unique and intense tactical gunplay and the campaign alone is a wonderful breath of fresh air.
Upon completing the campaign awaits both the games multiplayer and Guerrilla modes. Mulitplayer comes in four unique play types; Conflict, Decoy, Saboteur and Siege. Conflict, the most standard of the multiplayer offerings is based around completing randomly located objectives on the fly while Decoy, which is probably the most fun of the bunch has the attacking team looking for three objectives with only one being the true objective while the other two are decoys. Saboteur places a bomb in a centralized location with both teams fighting to retrieve it in order to plant it in the enemies base and lastly we have Siege which takes away the ability to respawn. Defenders are placed near the objective with attackers hoping to either take them all out or get the objective completed. Character classes are presented as rifleman, engineers and scouts, each possessing their own unique battlefield characteristics which are upgradable as player’s level up.
While sheer skill and familiarity of maps play a significant part in ones success, paying attention and knowing what your weapon of choices are is a huge part to players holding their own. Ultimately and thankfully the multiplayer mode weighs much of its experience on a team based concept. Sure, you can rack up tons of kills with a great K/D but in the end players working to complete objectives helping their team reach goals receives more in return. Again, this is not your typical rogue spear shooter.
While there are currently only four main play types, they certainly offer a competitively engaging experience which play much faster and more intense than the previous Ghost Recon titles. Old school GRAW fans might find this new multiplayer experience to be a bit too fast for their taste however, it has been over five years since we last saw the series and boy have things changed in those five years. While the game does play faster than before, the game still maintains that core team-based perspective which no other AAA shooter on the market offers. The campaigns cover mechanic system has also been added to the multiplayer equation. Sensor grenades display enemy locations behind objects and deployable cameras can be left in key location on the battlefield to detect enemies on the maps radar. Players can also respawn on the teammates keeping them closer to all the action.
As an added bonus to the package Guerrilla mode has been offering a sort of horde mode for the Future Soldier fan. Again, this is another offering that is great fun with friends cooperatively online or split-screen. Going at it alone in Guerrilla mode and you will certainly brush up on your skills especially when the difficulty is raised.
Future Soldier is easily to best team based shooter on the market complimenting players for working together. Player wanting more out of a shooter other than just killing the enemy will find this latest installment of the Ghost Recon series as a great addition to their favorite shooters list. Delivering gunplay value where it counts, shooter fans looking for the best shooter of 2012 so far need look no further. Packaged with an enjoyably rich campaign, an engaging and robust multiplayer with a sizable weapons customization feature in the Gunsmith, Future Solider simply can’t be missed.