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Review: Ghost Recon: Future SoldierGhost Recon: Future Soldier Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Studios
Release Date: May 22, 2012 (out now)
Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC
ESRB: M for Mature
This review is based on the XBOX 360 version of the game
Modern warfare shooters are a dime a dozen these days. Every release aims to up the ‘wow’ factor with bigger set pieces, larger explosions, and increased number of nuclear catastrophes. It’s easy to pass off a genuinely good shooter as just another one of the other guys. Don’t make the mistake with Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. This is a rare breed of tactical third-person shooter, where future technology and weapon platforms are just as important as teamwork.
As the name would imply, Future Soldier is set a few years past 2012. The world is gripped in fear as a rogue spear, or nuclear device, has decimated London. The Ghosts, an elite team of special operations soldiers, are sent in to find out who fired the missile and kill them. At least, that’s how it begins. What gamers will uncover is a vast conspiracy involving a shady Russian ultranationalist group and several arms dealers, warlords, and criminals. The narrative isn’t well explained though, and I still have quite a few lingering questions as to who did what exactly. The plot, however, is only here to service the great action and tactical situations that Ubisoft has created.
In the singleplayer campaign, players will command a squad of Ghosts featuring Ghost Lead, 30k, Kozak, and Pepper. None of these guys are all that distinguishable since they almost always wear their gear, but Ubisoft does try to humanize them with squad banter. While the dialogue won’t win any awards, it makes you feel like you’re actually playing with a group of humans.
As Kozak, players can order the squad to focus fire on certain targets or perform Sync Shots, where a number of targets (between 1 and 4) can be marked for a synchronized kill. Sync Shots are vital to mission success when an objective specifies absolutely no alerts triggered. Even then, some of the missions can be extremely difficult, requiring fast reflexes and tactical adaptability. Thankfully, the Ghosts have an arsenal of handy gadgets they can call on to make life easier.
The stand-by gadget is the UAV. Capable of flight or driving on land, the UAV allows players to mark targets for Sync Shots and spot enemies hidden behind cover. While it isn’t particularly resistant to gunfire, it can repair itself when in the player’s possession. Other useful tech includes the motion detector, EMP grenade, and the ever-handy frag grenade. Learning the strengths and weaknesses of each deviceis paramount to survival on the dynamic battlefields of Ghost Recon.
The campaign will likely take 6 to 8 hours, depending on how fast you want to play the game. The choice is (mostly yours) when it comes to tactics. You can go full-auto or you can take things nice and slow. The missions themselves are fairly varied, featuring warlord hunts in African refugee camps and an explosive mission using a mortar-launching drone. You’ll find plenty to do in the campaign, even if the story doesn’t make much sense. As an added bonus, you can sub out the AI squad (which is more than capable) for real human players. In my experience, it was easier just to stick with the AI as they actually behaved themselves.
As with any modern shooter, there’s a multiplayer component. This part of the Ghost Recon experience is easily its best, featuring a robust suite of gadgets and weapons to choose from. The much talked-about Gunsmith, where you can change almost every weapon internal and external you can think of, can shape the way you play matches. Upgrade points to mess with in Gunsmith are earned by leveling up, so it’s important that you make sure you pick the right weapon for the three available classes. If you decide you don’t like the weapons you’ve created or the special unlocks you’ve earned, you can always use a reset token to give you back all of your unlock points and such.
Most game-modes consist of wiping out the enemy team. One of Ghost Recon’s more creative modes, Decoy, is a real exercise in tension. Players on one team must find and disable an objective that the opposing team must defend. For the attackers, however, they must figure out with of three points is the real objective. There’s also a dynamic objectives mode called Conflict and a similar, albeit unforgiving mode, known as Siege. While each match variant has been done before in other shooters, Ghost Recon adds a lot of fun gadgets to make firefights engaging. Items like the UAV, incendiary grenade, and grenade launcher gain even more importance in the multiplayer to help teams succeed. Winning a match is an incredibly rewarding feeling, given how challenging objectives can be.
From a technical standpoint, Ghost Recon is solid but nothing amazing. Everything has a slightly dated look, and some of the textures and environments are lacking in detail. While I didn’t really have a problem with it, some gamers may be disappointed by the visuals. Thankfully, I never really encountered any graphical glitches, meaning the code is fairly stable. The audio is great. Every weapon sound packs serious punch and the voice-overs do a fairly good job of communicating emotion and relaying combat-specific information. The musical score never really stood out to me given how often things were blowing up in my face. That might be for the better as the sound effects really make the game pop where the visuals don’t.
Overall, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is a great competitive and cooperative tactical shooter. The campaign offers great diversity and can be fun in coop if you have the right players. The multiplayer is also a strong addition to the Ghost Recon online legacy. While the technicals are lacking in some places, the rewarding gameplay more than makes up for any shortcomings. If you’re a fan of shooters, I can’t help but recommend this nice change of pace from the typical modern warfare shooter.
+ A great, diverse campaign filled with awesome moments
+ Strong competitive and cooperative multiplayer component
+ Great audio work and sound effects
- Visuals are somewhat lacking
- The narrative doesn't make much sense
Overall Score: 8.5 (out of 10)
A great tactical shooter with excellent multiplayer, a strong campaign, and fun future technology. A must for shooter fans! Don't skip out on buying it!
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