Review: Ghost Recon: Future Soldier
Let’s be honest, the Ghost Recon series hasn’t really made any major splashes in the gaming world in recent years. Average storylines and mediocre gameplay, as well as sluggish AI and laughable multiplayer, have haunted the franchise for a few years now. That is until Ghost Recon: Future Soldier was announced. The teaser trailers and Gunsmith demonstrations alone had the gaming community and Ghost Recon fans foaming at the mouth. So, the question is, did Ghost Recon: Future Soldier deliver?
Improved Campaign and Smart AI
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier’s campaign is the best yet in the series. The story takes you around a not-too-distant-future Earth, rescuing CIA agents, assassinating African warlords and making sure coups play out to the Western world’s advantage. The Ghost Recon squad-of-four format has remained, with the lead player playing the part of Kozak, an American born tough-nut soldier with Russian parents. Kozak is the rookie of the group, but his bio assures us he’s anything but green. The rest of the four man squad is made up of your usual specialists – Ghost Lead, 30K and Pepper. Someone at Ubisoft deserves a pay rise for this game, because the AI system has been massively improved. Squad members can now manoeuvre into position on their own free will and won’t get spotted or engage targets, until you give them the go ahead. This has removed the laborious task of having to plot a destination for your squad to move to, or have them following you around like lost puppies. Enemies also show more guile in combat, focusing fire on targets that are dishing out the most punishment and spotting their comrades corpses more easily.
Before each mission, a briefing of the task ahead is given and you are able to pick your equipment and load out accordingly. Here, Ghost Lead gives you a few tips on what weapons and attachments to use for the mission, but it is entirely up to you how you go about it. I found that checking the mission’s challenges before picking my weapons helped make it easier to decide what to pick. Challenges are a set of 3 objectives, plus a 4th weapon challenge, unique to each mission. These add extra challenges (hence their name) to make the missions more varied. By completing challenges, you unlock new guns and attachments to play around with in future missions, so they are worth trying to complete.
Gunsmith was the reason many people went out and bought a Kinect and Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. Sadly, although using the Kinect and Gunsmith together does make you feel like Tom Cruise in Minority Report, it is a pain to keep getting into position in front of the sensor, just to customise a gun. After a few tries the novelty wears off and you find yourself using the controller instead.
In terms of customisation, Gunsmith is incredible. The player has options to change the Optics, Gas system, Trigger, Underbarrel attachment, Side Rail attachment, Barrel, Muzzle attachment, Stock and Magazine. This presents the player with an array of customisation capabilities for each and every weapon. For example, a shotgun can be customised to be a fast moving, quick loading close quarters weapon, or it can be lengthened, making it less manoeuvrable but better at dealing damage at range. This makes levelling up your multiplayer characters all that more important and addictive.
Multiplayer and Gameplay
The 3rd-person camera angle makes the cover system essential and lifesaving. Anyone who doesn’t use the cover system effectively won’t survive for long and will find this game frustrating on multiplayer. The cover system is there to help. A quick press of a button and your character will “snap” into cover, be it against a wall or behind a crate. The best way to move around the battlefield is, when in cover, to aim at another piece of cover nearby and hold the cover button. This then makes your character sprint straight for that new destination, jumping over obstacles as necessary, making it much harder for an enemy to target you. The cover system works very well both in the multiplayer and the single player game and the movement controls are also easy to grasp.
Combat is a good mixture of run-and-gun action and strategy. Weapons with low control will ride up when continuously fired, which means you soon learn to burst fire to control your aim. Once you have mastered firing the weapons, the next thing vital in multiplayer is teamwork. There are no game modes where the sole objective is to kill the opposite team. Conflict, the main game type, is a mixture of old school team deathmatch and objective based gameplay. By introducing constantly shifting objectives on the map, the Conflict game mode has seemingly removed the curse of the camper and made players move around the map, engaging targets as they move around the battlefield.
Of course, with any Tom Clancy game, there is always an element of stealth for the sneakier gamers. In the single player campaign, stealth is necessary for most missions, but online it is a choice. The Recon class has a built in augmented camo feature, which means when the player is still for long enough, he is turned almost completely invisible, making it hard for the enemy to spot you. The different equipment and well-designed maps means that there are opportunities to flank the enemy and sneak up behind them, making for some awesome stealth kills. Players can also gather intel on enemies by using a variety of different equipment. UAVS and sensor grenades mark nearby enemies on the teams HUD and tactical map. The tactical map is useful in getting around the map and co-ordinating with your teammates. Click on an objective on the tacmap and a sat-nav like path will be drawn to it on your HUD. Doing this also shows your teammates what you plan on doing in an instant, meaning flanking the enemy is all that much easier.
Guerrilla Mode is a wave-by-wave game mode with a twist. On wave 1, and every 10 waves, the HQ that you are defending shifts to a new location and, prior to waves of enemies attacking you, you have to clear the HQ of guards. After each wave, equipment and weapons are dropped so that you can stock up ready for the next round. Killstreaks are earned by staying alive through certain amounts of waves and drastically improve your firepower to tackle vehicles and multiple enemies in latter waves.
The Horde Mode formula for this game mode does provide a welcome distraction from the single player and multiplayer games. With a variety of different maps, each with 50 waves of enemies, and the fact you can play with up to 3 other friends online, means Guerrilla Mode increases the replay value of this game tenfold.
The campaign storyline made for some challenging gameplay and the fact you can play the entire single player campaign with up to 3 other friends online is a massive bonus. Being able to test guns in the firing range before multiplayer matches is also a nice feature.
Gunsmith takes this game to a whole new level. The amount of research, detail and customisation capabilities make Gunsmith a fantastic partner for the single player and multiplayer game modes.
The multiplayer game types, accompanied by well-designed maps, balanced weapons and an addictive level-up system means this game will be in my disc drive for a while to come.
The Not So Awesome
The Kinect capabilities have a huge novelty factor and, whilst fun, serve no real practical purpose, which is a shame.