It has finally happened! Tom Clancy’s next installment in the Ghost Recon franchise, straight from different parts of Ubisoft’s development team, has finally released. Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier brings all the elements to the table; tactics, excitement, balance, epicness, and the feeling of being a complete and total badass. I have waited so long for this very moment to happen, with a pre-order date set on August 2009 and varying launch date delays ranging from the start of 2010 to where we are today, I had to, as a personal requirement, give this game my complete and undivided attention to give it the best and most fair review I could possibly give it.
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, with all the delays given, is still honestly far from perfect but it’s still an excellent shooter that stays true to its roots for those proud fans of past Ghost Recon games.
Campaign taps adrenaline over emotion
Future Soldier overall, has an exciting campaign. It’s fun and can be played in either a stealthy or run-and-gun fashion, whichever you prefer. Of course, despite the stealth element, the game was definitely really chaotic at times and somewhat easy actually. Not in a bad way though. You have the best tools future warfare has to offer and the enemy is pretty much never safe. The jist of things is in most cases, you get to sneak around and play the objective like a puzzle, utilizing your team’s positioning to take out targets in order to advance without alerting them, which is fun. But more often than not, you’ll be alerting the enemy and cause a huge firefight. Not a problem, because you can see and shoot through walls and tell your team to do all the work if you wanted to.
The game has that somewhat “standard” storyline found in most modern shooters. You’re thrown on a team and given many different missions that have you traveling the world, not for sightseeing unfortunately. This was kind of expected as I sadly don’t expect much from shooters as far as story goes. I simply wish for a decent storyline combined with plenty of explosions to distract me. I guess Ubisoft tried to give the characters more emotion by providing cutscenes during mission “down time”, but kind of failed. Yea, I understand their personalities, but there wasn’t that strong characterization I was hoping to find in a game devoted to knowing only four characters.
The good news though is on top of the standard shooter storyline, the game stays true to most past Clancy titles too. You know, the whole “stopping a conspiracy” thing. I’m not going to go into too much detail to spoil you, but if you’re a Clancy fan, you’ll enjoy stopping problems that go on internally rather than just going to war and killing baddies for the heck of it. After all, you’re a team full of special Special Forces that have deadly skills and the gadgets to make them even more over-powered. What else could you ask for?
Gameplay with more gadgets than Batman
The gameplay is interesting. It’s a very fast-paced third-person game. Never at all did I feel sluggish movement except while walking. You get all the economy features which include aiming, shoulder-to-shoulder, sprinting, cover-to-cover, and of course grenades and firing your gun and what not. What’s interesting you can also to choose to aim all-the-way and go first person to utilize your rifle sights or optics. You also get some luxury features too complete with pretty much every gadget money can buy. You have everything, you’re pretty much immortal.
When you crouch and move slowly, you go into active-camouflage. If you’re familiar with Halo, it’s like the one in that game except not as good. But in campaign it works wonders because unless you’re practically 5-feet away, they won’t see you. On top of that, you have a different set of goggles for every occasion that can be activated at anytime by pressing down on the d-pad (or thumbstick, whichever). Well pretty much just night vision and sonar, but you can see through walls and take out insurgents without ever actually seeing them face-to-face, what else do you need?
Intel is extremely important, so you have a couple methods of attaining it. You have sensor grenades, which marks all targets in the area you throw it to. You even have a portable UAV that you can control and mark targets for your team to take out. Life made easy, no?
Aesthetics aren’t fit for a future soldier
Ok, as a person, a game’s graphics are least likely to be my deciding factor when purchasing a game. But since this is a review and others may think otherwise, let’s talk. Straight to the point, I don’t feel Future Soldier meets my graphical expectations, especially with some current modern shooters setting the bar, visually. The graphics looked cell-shaded but they weren’t. Not a good look for a military shooter. Borderlands pulls it well because it’s deliberate.
Don’t get me wrong, the graphics aren’t awful. They’re not as bad as the Golden Eye revamp, but the engine could’ve been better since Modern Warfare manages decent graphics at best but has many cinematic actions going on in the background. Ghost Recon, does not have many actions going on in most scenarios. A couple dramatic, over-kill airstrikes here and there but that’s about it.
Eargasms make up for gouging your eyes out
Ok ok, the graphics don’t gouge your eyes out, but where Future Soldier lacks in aesthetics, they make up for it with sound. When you pop the game in your system, you’re given an “HD Sound update” (Couldn’t do one for graphics?) and the sound is booming. It sounds very theatrical and epic. For one cinematic involving a missile strike, I had to take off my surround sound headsets because it sounded so real.
Because of this, the game is very immersive. You’ll never notice the graphics while playing till you hit an after-mission cinematic.
Interference in the system
It’s unfortunate to say, but despite the amount of time Ubisoft had to get this out, I ran across some irritating glitches and bugs. Fortunately, they’re all in campaign. There weren't any issues with multiplayer if that’s the big selling point for you.
There are a lot of scenarios where you need to have all your teammates like when breaching-and-clearing or simply opening a door to move on to the next area. Once you step on the circle, you can’t move till your teammates arrive. Every now and then, one of them will never show up. Feels so bad to be stood up… Back on topic, it forces you to have to restart the objective. I was playing the game on the hardest difficulty so restarting a whole section of a mission was rather frustrating. To avoid this, be sure to follow your teammates to make sure they all make it.
Of course, while following to make sure they all make it, every now and then, one of them would either get stuck to a piece of the map or still think the enemy is there, and hide behind cover infinitely till you revert to last checkpoint.
I guess the issue here is AI. That’s something they could fix in a patch. But it’s unfortunate to find them when they had 3-years to get this out. If you’re really worried about these glitches, don’t be, they didn’t happen extremely often in one run-through, but know that they are there. It is what it is…
Multiplayer of the future
Much like Battlefield 3, the game’s campaign was lacking but it makes up for it with great multiplayer. Full weapon customization, all the gadgets, and teamwork define this game.
The multiplayer for this game is what I call “unique.” It can be your standard run-and-gun if that’s what you prefer. But in this game you almost HAVE TO work with your team to try and grab intel to win the round. Let me just tell you straight-up. You can be the best player in the world, but it still won’t be easy. Everyone in this game is over-powered. Everyone has the gadgets and the tools necessary to kill you before you even know it. I guess that’s Ubisoft’s way of balancing, and you know what? It works!
Map design is really good actually. It supports the cover-to-cover system very effectively and was fully-designed for CQB with a good mix of long-sight lines.. Also, there’s no safe spot. I mean, you can choose to camp, but they’ll get to you unless you’re heavily bunkered down.
The overall gameplay has that Gears of War kind-of Battlefield mash-up. It’s third-person but it feels faster than GoW movement-wise and of course, you have the option to move into first-person to aim.
There’s not much to say specifically about the multiplayer. It’s really good and you get pretty much all the features in the campaign in the online-mode. Despite the almost required teamwork needed, Future Soldier is a great game to just jump in and out for a quick match.
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is a great game. It’s entertaining, has decent multiplayer, and a rather exciting campaign. Unfortunately, if you’re in it for the storyline and characterization, you may or may not be disappointed. But if you enjoy multiplayer shooters, it’s definitely a great game to at least try out. Honestly, the concept really isn’t for everyone.