Look into my eye

Ubisoft’s much anticipated new title in the Ghost Recon series was released last month and as a major Ghost Recon fan I’ve been eagerly anticipating taking this for a spin. Did it live up to my lofty expectations or was that shocking Coco marketing spot a sign of things to come?

I have to admit now that while I loved the previous GRAW2 I can’t remember the exact story or how it played out; all I really remember about the game is using some cool little gadgets and completing some really well laid out set experiences and Ghost Recon Future Soldier doesn’t deviate too far from that.

The story is better, well I presume it is as I’m vested in this story. It’s nothing earth shattering as you’re thrown into a battle with all the usual suspects. You have the awesome god-fearing Americans against the evil Russian empire, who may not be evil after all; with a side dash of terrorists, mercenaries and ideological nutters thrown in for good measure.

It’s not going to win any Oscars but at the same time I never found myself rolling my eyes or wanting to skip the between mission cut scenes which play out very well actually; they do a great job of making you feel that you are part of a bigger cause even if you think a lot of the other players are morons who don’t serve much more purpose than supporting you or being cannon fodder.

What's with the blue circle

Before each set mission you receive your mission breakdown with a brief overview of what to expect, why you are doing it and then some handy information on the sort of load out that you should be setting up for. Thankfully for the ADHD readers out there this part isn’t significantly important as a default load out is set up for you every time and generally you are not required to change it to make reasonable progress. But if you want the entire experience this is a good part to sniff around in.

You can change your load out, check mission briefings, re-watch the cut scenes that were just played and that sort of thing. But if you’re like me you’re going to hit A to rush into battle and be claimed the ultimate hero of humanity.

And if you’re like me you’re going to die, quickly.. and often. Ghost Recon is not Call of Duty or even Battlefield and while you may be the top FPS player on the planet you are still not going to make it through these levels by running and gunning.

Ghost Recon is about strategy and you are going to use every gadget at your disposal – which include sensor grenades, invisibility cloaks, UAV’s, air support and more to dominate your enemy but even that won’t be enough. Ghost Recon Future Soldier requires you to think; not mensa-style analysis but you can’t just shoot everyone you see from cover and expect to get away with it.

I see you

Take, for example, one mission that had me clawing my hair out at one stage. You cross over an airport runway and hide behind some convenient boxes, up on a building is one sniper with 5 people milling around below. If you take out anyone on the floor before the sniper he will spot the dead body and raise the alarm ending the level. So obviously you take him out first, then you line up 4 of the people milling around for your team to target and then when you’ve got the 5th in your sites you signal your team and everyone takes their shot. Except for idiotic pepper in the corner who lost his shot at the last moment and now you have to quickly take his guy out in the 2 seconds before the alarm is raised.

I didn’t manage and we started again, across the runway and take out the sniper. Line everyone up, making sure I know who idiot boy is aiming at so I can solve that problem, then I make the signal and everyone drops. Pepper didn’t lose his sight this time and we can now move on, we move 10 meters forward and come across 8 people scattered across a large area. You can’t take out 8 people at once and they can all see each other… yeah enjoy figuring that one out for yourself.

And that really is all the fun of Ghost Recon, you need to scout, check your angles and lines of sight, work out who can be taken out without raising the alarm and then executing your plan.

There are also some great run and gun mayhem sections which are a nice break from the seriousness of the stealth parts, adding a great sense of pacing. 

StandUpThere are problems though. Your AI isn’t the smartest things on the planet but at the same time they are worlds better than previous Ghost Recon games and did at times, actuallysave my life. At other times they just got lost in the stage and at least once I moved into breach/entrance position only to be stuck their for eternity as one of our my trusty team mates never made it to the door which meant I had to restart the level again. So take note, when you see the little white circles that mark where you need to stand for the entrance sequence don’t enter it, not until the rest of the team has arrived.

The other big problem with this game is invisible walls, I understand they want to channel us through their set plays but on the airport stage I had scouted out a perfect route through some crates to bypass the big group of soldiers but after sneaking through the sides I got to the opening between the crates only to find a small orange cone there –  which my elite, highly trained, soldier just couldn’t step over. Nor could he climb the crate that was about shoulder height.

These invisible walls are all over the place and become quite irritating as you move on.

My last real complaint about the game is that if you have more than one objective to complete in a stage you have to complete them in order. This seems to be nothing more than bad planning on the developers behalf. One example that happens early in the game is that I need to send my drone to release an EMP of sorts to take out two circuit breakers. I sent it down the left pipe first only to find out that I can’t EMP that board yet as I hadn’t taken out the right side yet.

But the engaging single player is not the only asset you get with this game with a fully fleshed out multiplayer also included in the experience. In multiplayer you choose your class of your soldier between Engineer, Rifleman or Scout. Each as their own specific hardware and abilities and each is pretty self explanatory really.

The Engineer has the sensor grenades and camera’s and drones while the rifleman has a better gun and grenades etc while the scout is your annoying sniper who needs his skull crushed with a military grade boot.

There are 4 different versions of online gameplay with Conflict, Decoy, Saboteur and Siege with my personal favourites being Conflict (sort of like deathmatch with objectives) and Saboteur where you need to find a bomb and blow up your opponents base.

Before each round you can accept challenges from your friends list (sorry Miklos I accepted and completed your challenge with ease) and also customise your load out. The load outs make all the difference and you are going to need to plan your gameplay depending on what you’ve chosen to equip yourself with.

Running around with a LMG isn’t going to end well for you but it is fantastic for laying suppressive fire and giving your team mates the opportunity to advance.

The gameplay in multiplayer consists of using cover to your advantage, getting the angles right by finding higher ground and using a mix of sensor grenades and stealth to rain death on your enemy. The lag I experienced was mostly manageable with only one game being completely unplayable.

I want to get back into the multiplayer as quickly as possible and hopefully I can find some locals to squad up with as you really need to work together to dominate in this game.

Got your back bro

Scoring:

Gameplay: 8.5/10.

The gameplay is solid with fluid movements, great attention to detail and enough variety to keep most people happy for the entire experience

Design and Presentation: 8.0/10.

The game looks great and the different settings and environments are varied enough to justify the different equipment that you are constantly presented with. The interface is logical and all in all I have no real complaints.

Value: 8.5/10.

A solid 10 hour single player experience which may hold some replay value if you want to try it on the harder levels but more than likely once will be enough. An indepth multiplayer section more than justifies the standard price that that comes with this game

Overall: 8.5/10.

The only real criticism I have with Ghost Recon Future Soldier is that Ubisoft has played it safe, they’ve included everything they know fans wanted and haven’t altered the experience much. Which in itself is a good thing as we have enough generic shooters in the market and Ghost Recon has simply fortified its corner.

Well worth the money and an experience I would recommend to anyone who likes shooters

[Reviewed on the Xbox 360 version] 

Oh…but what about that overly hyped Kinect experience of Gunsmith? I’m a fan of Kinect, the kids love it and I think it has been a good addition to the universe of gaming. However keep it out of my real games please. I have no desire to wave my hands around or shout at my screen when I can just use the sticks and buttons that exist on the controller in my hand.

Technically it’s quite impressive but wholly unnecessary in my opinion. It didn’t sway my review one way or the other.

Last Updated: June 11, 2012

Ghost Recon: Future Soldier
Summary
8.5

Gavin Mannion

I for one welcome our future robotic overlords

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