Almost a year ago at the E3 Expo in Los Angeles, Ubisoft was showing off the gunsmith feature on the Xbox 360 version of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier that utilized Kinect. It was pretty cool how it used motion sensing and voice commands. Unfortunately, the PlayStation 3 only has the Move controllers and the Move support touted on the package refers only to that Gunsmith mode, not to anything more than that. The customizations options available are a welcome addition but pairing up Move controllers just for that, even with being able to run around the firing range, is a waste of time.
Fortunately, there is a lot more that’s good about Ghost Recon: Future Soldier than being able to customize weapons and try them out on a shooting range. Ubisoft has a long and mostly successful history of utilizing their Tom Clancy license with the Splinter Cell, Rainbow Six, Hawx, and Ghost Recon franchises. Many gamers looking for more authentic representations of Metal Gear Solid and Call of Duty prefer those Tom Clancy-branded titles. It is with that more authentic approach in mind, that the further jump of the near future setting and equipment of Future Soldier may seem like a departure.
Ghost Recon is a team similar to the Navy’s SEAL Team 6 or the Army’s Delta Force, and as team, even the single player game requires teamwork with your AI squad mates. Luckily for those who don’t have friends to play with, your team’s AI is pretty good. The single player campaign can be played as four player co-op with the included Uplay pass, but only by LAN or online. The story is your typical global response team fare with arms smuggling, coups, and such so — don’t expect much new from it. Also, just like if you were really on a global response team, don’t expect much explanation. Like similar titles, Future Soldier will take you all over the world.
The voice work in Future Soldier is solid but the character models, particularly in cut scenes look last-gen unless played in 3D and speaking of graphics, many are likely to be unimpressed by a great deal of the textures. Some of the environmental effects work really well, but others, particularly foliage, looks like early PlayStation 2 stuff. There are a few other technical issues with frame rate and draw distances, but they rarely get in the way of the game. The 3D isn’t adjustable but it is better than many other shooters and will give a more immersive experience overall.
The controls are displayed on the loading screen, however, the scheme is always illustrated starting on the left side and never makes it to the right, possibly because the game requires an install. For the most part the controls are basic cover-type third-person shooter controls. You move with the left stick adjust the camera with the right and the X button runs and puts you in cover. The cover system works well and is similar to Gears of War. The Circle button will cycle you through positions from standing to crouched or prone.
The triggers and bumpers allow you to throw grenades, aim and fire your weapon, and mark targets for your squad. The marking targets mechanic works well as your team will use cover to reposition and get a line of sight. This works especially well when being stealthy, but also has advantages in an all out firefight. Of course there are gadgets too. The active camouflage is activated when crouching and will work until you stand up or fire. The other often used piece of tech is a remote controlled drone that will help you find and even disable enemies.
The 10 hour campaign is really just a warm up for the robust multiplayer because as wide open as the levels are, there are a number of ways to accomplish your objectives. Those who want to be successful will have to communicate, and some thought should be put into class selection because they are significantly different. There are four match types in multiplayer and up to 12 players can play online with the PlayStation 3 version of the title. Conflict, Decoy, Saboteur, and Siege are the multiplayer options in addition to the Guerrilla mode where up to four players face waves of enemies, similar to a Horde mode.
Conflict is a standard team death match operation but the gadgets and hacking add a whole new twist. The Decoy mode charges one team with defending three objectives while the other team tries to seize them. The twist is that two objectives are decoys. In Saboteur, two teams race to secure and utilize a single bomb to blow up the opposing base. Siege works pretty much as it sounds, with the limitation of, not being able to respawn.
Getting started with multiplayer in Future Soldier requires choosing one of three classes; Rifleman, Engineer, or Scout. Each of these has different types of load outs and therefore different abilities. For example, only the scout has active camouflage.
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is significantly different from its competitors. It requires more strategy than games like Call of Duty, Halo, or Battlefield but is quicker-paced than other third-person shooters like Gears of War. Designed as a multiplayer game, the narrative in the single player is sparse and Future Soldier lacks the polish of more scripted offerings. The final package has some glaring deficiencies but the niche Future Soldier occupies is a unique and fulfilling multiplayer experience for those who fancy themselves tacticians.
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood, Intense Violence, Strong Language. This game can also be found on: PC and Xbox 360.