Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is a shooter that focuses on ‘future warfare’ and implements the weapons and gadgets into the gameplay in a superb manner. Despite the fact that we have seen most of Future Soldier’s tricks in games before it, the execution is great and has a unique flavour. The singleplayer experience is strong and the multiplayer makes for a great, yet somewhat different shooter experience.
Developer: Ubisoft Paris
Distributor: Megarom Interactive
For fans of: Tom Clancy games, Shooters, Stealth
Reviewed on: Playstation 3
Also available on: Xbox 360
If we had to give it a numerical score: 8.5/10
What we loved
- Future warfare gadgets and weapons
- Stealthy gameplay
- Cinematic sequences
Not so much
- No matchmaking for co-op mode
- Characters forgettable
Gameplay and features
One of the most eagerly anticipated features that in Future Soldier is the ‘Gunsmith’ feature which is enhanced by Kinect or Move, but not necessary. Here players can customise every last component to build unique weapons with unique advantages. There’s an abundance of components you can equip to your weapons to give you advantages in key areas. By using the Kinect or Move function, players can simply jog through the components available in the sub-menus with the greatest of ease, using hand and arm movements across the screen to navigate your way around. This aspect is also further enhanced with the voice-recognition feature. You can go in and out of a shooting range to test your weapon and how it reacts to the components and tech you have built it up with. Players can skip all this and just optimise their gun with pre-sets.
In the campaign mode you assume the role of Kozak, a Brooklyn-born solider with Russian parents, who is part of the Ghost Squad tasked with avenging the deaths of another squad. Not only did the perpetrators kill some of the good guys, but they made off with a nuclear warhead in the process. The campaign will take you across the globe in the chase, and your unit will need to carry out several ‘special forces’ objectives along the way. The campaign was long enough to not feel short, and served well as an introduction to all the wonderful ‘future warfare’ that is to be used on the fleshed-out Multiplayer and Guerilla Modes.
A brilliant design choice, especially for those impatient amongst us that like to jump right in, is that the controls and gameplay tutorials were incorporated into the first mission. The introductory mission not only sets the mood, but eases you into the fairly elaborate control scheme and how to use your clever gadgets or weapons. The basic mechanics are straight forward and will seem familiar to any shooter fan, and then there are some unique mechanics that all work fluidly. The more advanced controller interface includes the use of the shoulder buttons for some of the gadgets and the controls for selecting squad commands. If you are not co-operating with other players, you will frequently need to command the rest of your squad to carry out the mission. It is not a RTS game and so the commands are pretty simple, there to just aid you in the fluency in which you carry out the mission – you can command the team to attack or help revive the fallen.
The focus of Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is to become and play like the elite ‘Ghost’ in a tight unit of four of the most skilled soldiers. In the beginning of the campaign, you might progress well enough giving the rest of your squad little thought, but soon enough you will discern how the game was intended to be played as a squad and how you will benefit from doing so. You will also learn how most of the design aspects and gadgets were included to keep you in stealth or ‘Ghost like’. You can use the AI as your squad or co-op through the entire campaign. Surprisingly the AI option was not a bad one with compitent AI. The co-op factor is best obviously, with the advantage of communication and being able to fully execute plans as a team.
The cover-system is similar to that featured in Gears of War, just more advanced. You go into cover by hitting a button, then peek around, choose your next desired spot which is marked with an indicator, and then by holding in your cover button your soldier will dash to that chosen spot, scaling objects if necessary. The cover-system works brilliantly and helps add to the necessary stealth aspect of the game. As expected with a soldier titled ‘Ghost’ you do have the cloaking ability, albeit not completely invisible, again amplifying the stealth aspect. You kit out your Ghost in the necessary camouflage that will keep you more hidden than normal. You can still be spotted and another drawback is the fact that the particular kit slows you down. To keep you in cover while still knowing or seeing what’s going on around you, you can make use of ‘sensors.’ You toss one into the desired area and then it transmits data, highlighting key visuals.
While all these clever gameplay features have been seen before, Ubisoft added some great little touches to differentiate Future Soldier from the pack. For instance, from the cover mode when sneaking up on a target, once you are within striking distance of the target, you can either silently take that person down or perform a ‘stealth shot’ – a sweet little feature. Another nice feature, again highlighting the team work theme, was that you can select to order single takedowns or a ‘Sync Shot’ where multiple targets are simultaneously taken down. Then there is the now familiar slow motion time which obviously comes into play in difficult situations to take down multiple targets.
The multiplayer is one of my very favourite for two major reasons – a third-person shooter is a breath of fresh air, and the helping indicators make for much less randomness in the gameplay. The non-permanent indicators allow you to see other players highlighted across the map, through objects – this actually works and for a decent period of time too. These factors make for a less cagey experience than that of blindly joining in the lobbies within the online-shooter arena where only the strong survive. Sure I think the skilled will still prevail, but these afore mentioned pros certainly give you a chance.
The multiplayer features and modes are fairly recognisable under the disguise, with Ubisoft’s clever take on certain aspects and some really nice touches. You have the various classes with their advantages and gear which can all be customised. There’s the usual unlockables by levelling up – weapon accessories etc. The game modes include up to 12 player lobbies which you can compete in the various modes – Conflict, Saboteur, Decoy and Siege which have teams compete out right as well as achieve goals. Other factors that contribute to my love for the multiplayer are the maps which were brilliantly designed and work well; the classes offer genuine advantages; the array of weapons and attachments make for diverse options and the code simply works well.
Lastly Ghost Recon: Future Soldier features ‘Guerrilla mode’ where up to three players can compete versus AI in a ‘Horde’ like mode. Four Ghosts either split-screening or online face 50 waves of enemies that get increasingly harder.
Sound and visuals
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier certainly looks good with near faultless graphics and a ambient cinematic experience that keeps with the biggest of them. The player’s motion is particularly impressive and compliments the third-person view nicely. The player’s movement look realistic and are packed with nice touches – like the scaling of objects, even from cover, all so swift and realistic looking. The peering around corners was so well done and looks a treat. The scenes and differentiated level designs are diverse and feature great visual effects for ambiance. The ‘Ghost’ or ‘Magnetic Vision’ gives players an x-ray view of the battlefield that highlights items and targets. This aspect works and looks particularly good, in that futuristic style.
The sound quality, the scoring and sound-effects follow suite, with realistic sounds adding to the mood of the game. The voice-acting is faultless and the constant shouting of commands and the sounds of ‘war’ really make for an immersive audio-visual experience of the highest quality.
While Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier might lack a certain overall pizzazz, and it doesn’t quite feel like it comes from a studio whose sole purpose is the production of one particular shooter series, it is an impressive return to a series that I would like to see much more of. The singleplayer experience is a solid one and it offers an array of multiplayer options that have a unique charm despite not bringing anything really new to the genre. The focus on squad-based gameplay and stealth coupled with a great design and execution made for one on my favourite shooters, both with the singleplayer campaign and on the multiplayer fronts.
Read about our ratings here.