Games nowadays often fall into one of two categories. Those that make you feel like a gun-toting cowboy and the rest that are hell bent on demoralising and beating you down until you curl up into a ball and cry (read: Dark Souls). Thankfully, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier falls in the former’s camp. Oh and it’s totally awesome too.
Setting itself up on classic Tom Clancy political mumbo-jumbo, you will be in control of a team of Ghosts (one of the government’s most elite units) after an attack on a separate unit triggers what feels like a real world game of ‘Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego,’ with none of the puzzles and all of the death. But let’s be honest, for most of you, the motive behind why you’re doing what you’re doing will quickly fall by the wayside as most objectives devolve into the “Get to point A without being seen” “Capture person B” or “Gather Intel about C” variety. It might sound stereotypical of Ghost Recon past, but Future Solider isn’t concerned about the missions so much as how you choose to complete them; and its here that the real party starts.
Armed with three trusty team members by your side, you will be deftly navigating each foreign location in pursuit of your newest objective just the way you like it. Go in guns blazing, busting caps all over the place, or take a more refined, skilful, almost ninja-like approach; the choice is yours. Fail to embrace the quieter end of the spectrum though and you will be denied the utter joy that is the Sync Shot. Borrowing from Splinter Cell: Conviction’s ‘Mark and Execute’ mechanic, you are free to tag up to four different enemies in order to simultaneously take them down as a group. If you’re a part of the action, the green light is triggered by your own shot; otherwise you are free to gallop around ordering death at the hand of your pals.
Tagging enemies is both an adrenaline rush and a complex mini-game in and of itself as you strategically take out each man one by one. In most instances, a pre-determined plan will see you go unnoticed, while some scenarios will have you flying by the seat of your pants to prevent an unwanted shootout. One particular mission for example will see a wealth of foes casually playing a game of football (it is the world game after all), while being completely surrounded by patrolling and towered guards, all inconveniently in your way. With too many to tag in one sync shot, you’re left to creatively designate who you kill and in what order to remain undetected. It’s a truly thrilling scenario and amazingly, highlights the greatest strength to Future Soldier: moving effortlessly and silently through a battlefield, without relying on cover based shoot outs. Granted, some of the missions will force your hand into going toe to toe with other factions, but for the most part refreshing flexibility takes centre stage.
The focus on stealth is further amplified though due to the numerous gadgets that are thrown into your near-futuristic backpack. Drones can be sent high into the air for a better perspective and sensors will give the position of nearby enemies while the essential camouflage will keep you hidden whenever crouched. Couple that with rather responsive and intelligent team AI and you’re left with the best game of cat and mouse the gaming world has seen in quite some time.
That’s not even mentioning the ridiculously in depth customisation at your fingertips for each mission load out. Briefings will present you with a recommended guide of what weapons and gadgets you should be using and why; but by no means does that mean you have to abide by it. Yes, with a few button presses you will be launched into statistical overload as you’re given the choice between trigger styles, fire rate and muzzles; each with its own direct impact on your companion’s weight, handling and accuracy. To say the bevy of options is overwhelming would be a gross understatement, but if customisation is your thing, you can quite literally spend hours altering each and every weapon element to operate just right.
Despite the aforementioned generic end-goals, missions never become too stale, thanks mostly to Future Soldier’s successful pacing. Most outings will start out calm, but things can and certainly will go wrong, forcing you into various time-based situations, gritty gunfights, or the palm sweating combination of the two. Throw in a few fixed-gunner styled set pieces and a dash of VIP protection and your hands are left more than full.
Future Solider however, is not without its flaws, disappointingly arising in the form of game-breaking glitches. One mission for example was met with an early failure due to my silent warrior falling through the set of stairs into a glowing white ether. Contemplating whether I had accidently stumbled upon the Inception video game and entered limbo, it didn’t take long to realise that the game had crapped its technological pants. Another halting instance saw me waiting beside a breach point for my fellow comrades to get into place, with only with a sandstone wall as my company. After a few minutes I realised that like your favourite pet’s trip to ‘The Farm,’ my friends were never coming back. It’s sad to see a game so well rounded in most aspects, falter in such major ways.
Negatives aside, you’re also free to cut your teeth on co-op play, the four multiplayer options or Ghost Recon’s take on horde mode (Guerilla), the latter of which has you taking on waves of enemies until you reach your eventual demise. While multiplayer has its moments, it will live and breathe by community, whose loyalty remains to be seen in the coming months. Regardless, there is mindless fun to be had that is bound to have you ‘soldiering’ on once the main campaign comes to a close.
- Reviewed On
- Xbox 360