Wow. Honestly, wow. I’m very impressed with what Ubisoft has done with the latest installment of the Tom Clancy franchise, “Ghost Recon: Future Soldier.” Set in the not-so-distant future (what a surprise considering the name), you and three other soldiers must track down the weapons dealers who tried to smuggle in a bomb to the United States, and get revenge on your predecessors’ killers.
It’s not “Splinter Cell” and it’s certainly not the most impressive story I’ve ever seen, but that doesn’t matter because the real star is the gameplay itself.
The single-player campaign is the first taste of how good the game is on its own. You are slowly immersed in the different mechanics as the missions go on, but eventually, by the third or fourth one, you’ve got all the tools of the trade at your disposal. Of course, not all of the weapon unlocks are available (those come when you complete certain tasks in game), but you definitely can have fun with the weapon customization prior to a mission.
With your team, you’re able to coordinate stealth strikes, use a small drone to spot targets up ahead and plan out your approach, disable and disarm electronics and foes and throw sensor grenades to reveal enemy positions all before you even begin a firefight. You may even avoid an altercation altogether if you use your tools correctly. It also doesn’t overuse the tools to the point where they become too gimmicky. Though the Warhound mission does get repetitive, who doesn’t love blowing up other soldiers with a robot and taking down helicopters with it too? It’s also the only mission you use it in, so they really shove it in your face and then say “Okay, that’s enough!”
If you’re playing the campaign by yourself, you’ll be relieved to know that your team AI is actually quite intelligent. They’ll find the best routes to snipe from when you’ve marked a target for them and if you’re in a firefight they will actually concentrate fire on the target you have called out. Most of the time, I find myself playing overwatch with the drone and just picking out targets for the AI teammates. Unlike most shooters, I didn’t really feel like it was me against the entire army. I honestly felt comfortable that my team would help me out. I was even worried when one of them was taken down and had to be revived. We would almost get overrun at times.
|Strategy is the key to success in “Future Soldier.”|
To be honest, I wasn’t able to get a decent co-op campaign going because of the somewhat faulty Ubisoft/U-Play servers. Then again, it could have been Xbox Live or my own internet connection. However, from what I can gather, having a human team would greatly improve your communication between members and allow for even more creative strategies when trying to accomplish objectives. Again, this is only an assumption on the campaign. If we find differently, we’ll let you know as we’re trying to figure out a way to do an entire co-op campaign with the team.
Even playing on medium difficulty, I found the game to be quite a challenge, but not one where I got frustrated and had to stop playing. It was more that I was just in need of a reevaluation of my strategies. I think that’s a good testament to the game itself not being annoying, bur rather intellectually stimulating as well as action packed.
Multiplayer is much better than the beta we posted about. I’ve been able to have several long sessions and teamed up with some pretty great squads to really get the full effect of human players working together to complete objectives. While the maps aren’t as large as the campaign, you really do feel like you’re doing the same thing just without the story. Every character moves the same speed and all teams have the same advantages and tech. I’ve never felt outmatched in firepower or weaponry, but if the other team has a better tech loadout you really need to coordinate with your team to figure out a plan. I honestly feel that if you’re not working with your team in multiplayer, it will leave you utterly disappointed and angry. If you find a group you work well with or you all just seem to click, you’re going to have a blast.
Guerrilla mode is pretty fun, though that’s strictly for a group of players in a party. There is no online matchmaking for this mode, which is kind of sad. At least I haven’t found a way to do that, but I’m fairly certain it’s just for closed parties. In this mode, you have to infiltrate a specific location as quietly as possible, then stack up and hold out against as many of the 50 waves of enemies as you can. I tried it by my self and actually did fairly well, but it’s definitely something you need a group for. Otherwise it’s just a way to hone your skills with the game itself.
Weapon customization is fun. It’s really nice to be able to play around with your builds a bit depending one what kind of game you like to play, be it ranged or spray and pray. Each attachment for the weapons has a specific boost or aid for you and it definitely comes into play during multiplayer and even the story.
|Customizing weapon loadouts is very satisfying.|
I was very surprised at how much I enjoyed the Kinect functionality in the game. You get to play a little “Minority Report” as you stand in front of your TV and scroll through character customization and weapon customization using your hand to move through attachments and rotate the weapon to see it from all angles. This isn’t the most streamlined program I’ve seen on the Kinect, it’s definitely buggy and more than a little cumbersome, but it’s fun all the same if you’re really into the high tech theme the game is going for.
I ran into a couple bugs here and there that prevented mission advancement and every now and then the servers would drop everyone in my multiplayer game back to the start screen, but otherwise the game is really well done. My biggest praise has to be the AI and cooperative gameplay that is there. You really can try as many strategies as possible to see what works for you and how you want to complete what objective. Well done, Ubisoft, well done. I give the game a solid 9/10 based on the replayability and quality of the multiplayer and single player mode.