The Ghost Recon series has been absent since the last game in the series, Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2, was released back in 2008. As the time continuum advances forward, we now have Future Soldier, a complete step up from previous games in almost every single aspect.
The story in Ghost Recon Future Soldier follows a four man squad of elite soldiers, called Ghosts, as they track down the source of an uprising occurring in Russia. Unfortunately for the fans of Tom Clancy, the story isn’t the high point of this game. Now, this isn’t such a bad thing because it allowed the developers to focus the majority of their development time on the gameplay. If you’re a fan of tactical shooters, you need look no further.
Teamwork plays a major role in Future Soldier. The campaign can either be played solo, with your three squad-mates controlled by the AI, or you can have one to three friends join you for one of the best co-op experiences you’ll find this year. With your squad-mates controlled by the AI, you won’t have to worry too much about them making mistakes that break your stealth approach, which is also a heavy focus of Future Soldier’s gameplay. Each soldier is equipped with Optical Camo, which doesn’t make you completely invisible, but it’s about as close as you can get. Getting back to the point about squad-mates, if you have human partners for your squad, you’d better have a microphone to help coordinate your efforts with, or else have fun playing Ghost of Duty.
Forming a strategy to take on each battle is easily one of my favorite things about the game. Plenty of games “offer” you multiple choices to take on your foes, but Future Soldier literally takes that to heart. There are some missions where you will be forced to make sure that no alert is raised. If one is raised, you will fail the mission. Although that aspect can be quite annoying, it doesn’t happen often enough to impede your choices. When it’s up to you to decide how to tackle a mission, you can use a drone to spot out your enemies, tag them, and then execute an order when your squad has lined up their shots to take them down. At some points, I’d tag three soldiers for my squad to take out and the fourth, who wasn’t exposed enough, would get a knife in the throat. There are always those options, or you could just take the guns blazing route and sometimes you may even have to.
Luckily, there’s enough variation of locations that you won’t get tired of some repetitive gunplay. You’ll be fighting in deserts, snow storms, forests, and much more. I was actually quite surprised by the amount of diversity in the environments and how they created different gameplay experiences. It would have been cool to have the Ghosts use the environments to their advantage though, maybe hiding under the snow or in the sand to avoid detection.
If you’ve been wondering about Gunsmith, you’ll be happy to know that Future Soldier has some of the best weapon customization option to date. You can literally customize everything from the paint, to the trigger and even the gas system the weapon uses. You don’t even have to customize your weapon on your console either. You can do it from iPod or iPad using the app Ubisoft created. Once you’ve customized your weapon you can use it in simulation that loads almost instantly to test your newly created weapon. If Borderlands 2 had this feature, I’d be in heaven, just saying. Hopefully they implement it in future games such as Rainbow 6 Patriots.
Graphically, Future Soldier is a mixed bag. Sometimes the game looks great and at other times it looks like a game from two to three years ago. Character models in game look fantastic, with highly detailed animations and plenty of gear. But during cutscenes, their faces have the plastic doll effect. In fact, it’s ironic that cutscenes try to show the more human side of the soldiers, but end up distancing the player from them because of how strange they look.
If you have a good set of speakers you’ll definitely want to pump them up for Future Soldier. The weapons don’t exactly have the best sound effects on their own, but when the different assortments of guns start firing during a heavy fight, with grenades exploding and your squad mates yelling out enemy positions, it can sound like you’re in a real warzone. The soundtrack isn’t too shabby either.
I think the best part about Future Soldier, as a whole, is the multiplayer component. I’ve been waiting a while now for another third person shooter to take the spot that Gears of War 3 filled for so long. I’ve been excited to try something new, and while the beta didn’t impress me, the full game has. The most impressive part about the multiplayer is the amount of teamwork that goes on. If you have a few friends to play with, the game really can be a blast, coordinating your attacks in game modes such as Conflict, where different objectives are placed throughout the map after each set is completed. If you like ranking up your character and unlocking new items there’s an abundance of that here as well.
Future Soldier is a great continuation of the Ghost Recon series. Although the game doesn’t offer as much in terms of character as GRAW 1&2 did with Scott Mitchell, the gameplay is leagues ahead of the former. Fans of tactical shooters who were disappointed with games such as Socom 4, should definitely find enjoyment here. Heck, any third person shooter fan in general should find enjoyment in it. If you buy Future Soldier, just know that while the single-playing campaign is well done, the main focus of the game—and the best parts of the game—are within the multi-player and co-op campaigns.