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June 1, 2012

By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada

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Ghost Recon:  Future SoldierIt's been five years since the last Ghost Recon game on consoles, and the famed Tom Clancy series proves beyond a doubt it's the undisputed leader in subtitle synonyms.

The latest release is "Future Soldier", which is the successor to "Advanced Warfighter" and its sequel. Don't be surprised to see "Tech-Savvy Killtrooper" hitting the next generation of consoles in 2016 or so.

All joking aside, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier does indeed carry on what was started in the two "Advanced Warfighter" games - namely, plots centering around futuristic soldiers who have all sorts of nifty new gadgets to take out the bad guys.

Although much of the plot for GR:FS revolves around stopping a rogue Russian terrorist group that's primed to start a global conflict, the game is, at its heart, all about vengeance. The opening mission sees a group of Ghosts getting killed by a dirty bomb; the final mission sees the new Ghost squad taking out the people who helped caused those deaths.

In between, there's all kinds of tactical gameplay that has become a staple of the series. This may be a military shooter, but the focus is on stealth. There are certainly moments of all out chaos and ammo-reducing shootouts, but there's no doubt that GR:FS shines brightest when its protagonists are creeping through the shadows.

Ghost Recon:  Future Soldier Making stealth a whole lot easier in this particular Ghost Recon title is the optical camouflage that all four Ghosts employ early on. With it, players are essentially invisible, as long as they're moving slowly and haven't already been detected by enemies, they can use it as often - and for as long - as they'd like.

Most campaign levels begin with the Ghosts creeping through their current environment, whether it be woods, shantytowns, buildings, or whatever. As alluded to earlier, players have a lot of gadgets at their disposal so they know what they're getting into.

For instance, sensor grenades allow you to use your Cross-Com to see where enemies are hiding in specific areas. The drone, meanwhile, can traverse the skies or the ground to give an even better view of how many enemies are nearby, and where they are.

The campaign can be played co-operatively online or with computer-controlled characters. The friendly AI is smart, and very rarely will do stupid things to impede your progress; they'll line up shots and kill enemies simultaneously when asked, they'll revive you when you're hurt without needing to be asked, and they'll virtually always take the stealthiest route.

Playing with actual humans will take more skill and communication, but with the ability to scout enemy positions and tag baddies, the most important things to have are a good headset, as well as common sense.

Considering how well the "no alert" stealth missions play out, it almost seems like the more action-oriented parts of the game are thrown in simply to appease the run-and-gun obsessed gamers who may have become far too accustomed to twitchy titles like Call of Duty.

Ghost Recon:  Future Soldier That's not to say those parts of GR:FS are bad - quite the opposite in fact. Taking out vehicles with a chain gun while riding in a helicopter, or leading a high-profile government official through the wreckage of a prison base that was just levelled by an air strike can be thoroughly thrilling. Nonetheless, there's a lot more to be said about running from cover to cover in stealth mode as you hold your breath, hoping the two enemy grunts walking nearby don't find you or any of your teammates.

There are some problems with certain levels. Some of the stealth missions end up falling in the hated "trial-and-error" category; you may repeatedly take out the same enemies the same way over and over, but if one of them finds you, you have to start the whole slow process over again from the last checkpoint.

The cover-based system itself works quite well for the most part. The Ghost Recon games are known for employing just about every button a controller has, but getting into cover and moving from one spot to another is actually quite easy. The only snag is, well, getting snagged on something. The character being controlled is often too "sticky", and many deaths can be the direct result of not being able to easily move out of cover.

Another big part of GR:FS - for both the single and multiplayer portions of the game - is the Gunsmith. Here, players can customize their favourite weapons to the most miniscule detail, from muzzle and scope attachments, to magazines and paint. Most campaign levels start you off with suggested weapons and customization, but in multiplayer, you'll really want pay careful attention to how you spend unlock points, depending on what kind of player you are.

Not surprisingly, multiplayer plays a big part of GR:FS. There are four competitive multiplayer modes, as well as a "horde" mode called Guerrilla. As you might expect from a Ghost Recon game, the competitive game types are more aimed toward objectives, and the winning team is often the one that works together the best.

Ghost Recon:  Future Soldier Although the game types are generally solid, for the most there's nothing here you haven't seen before in other multiplayer offerings. Conflict is probably the most interesting, as it involves several objectives that need to be completed in the course of one match. The catch is, most of the objectives are typically the same, and involve one team defending or attacking a specific spot on the map.

Guerrilla mode plays things safe as well, with up to four players taking on a maximum of 50 waves of enemies. Beyond simply running around shooting baddies until the wave is complete, you're also tasked with objectives such as keeping highlighted areas clear, or finishing a wave completely silently for bonus points.

Where the game really falters is in its absolutely perplexing choice to leave out matchmaking for both campaign co-op and Guerrilla mode. In other words, if you have no buddies online to play with, you're on your own, which really limits the choices for some players. Not only that, but there isn't any split screen campaign co-op available.

So while GR:FS certainly falters in some areas, it more than makes up for it in so many other ways. One of the biggest compliments that can be payed to this game is that the characters aren't completely over-the-top and full of eye-rolling machismo. Sure, the Ghosts may be listening to Pantera's "Five Minutes Alone" in one scene, but in the next, they're riding in a helicopter, blasting "I Shot the Sheriff".

Same goes for the plot. Sure, there are some details and CGI cut scenes that push the envelope of overdramatics, but there's no huge twist ending, nor is there any silly backstabbing from a character you once thought was a loyal friend to the end (as so many military games seem to do).

Ghost Recon:  Future Soldier Ghost Recon: Future Soldier plays it serious from the opening sequence right to the final credits, foregoing things like the addition of hidden items just for the sake of playing through the campaign again for an extra couple of trophies.

If you're tired of the other heavyweights in the military shooter arena, the tactical, stealthy gameplay in "Future Soldier" may be just what you're looking for.

 

Ghost Recon: Future Soldier
Format: PlayStation 3
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Paris, Ubisoft Budapest, Red Storm
ESRB Rating: M for Mature 17+
Official Site: http://ghost-recon.ubi.com/gr-portal/en-GB/home/

Rating: 7.5 / 10

 
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