Ghost Recon: Future Soldier
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Platform: PS3 / Xbox 360 / PC
Shooting games. They're a bit of a mixed bag. You either love them or hate them, or become so ridiculously good at them they take over your life as you sit there, in front of your gigantic television, surrounded by empty cola cans wracking kill after kill after kill.
I'm a bit indifferent to most shooters. I've played Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare, I'm quite partial to a bit of Gears Of War, and I'm reliably told that Battlefield is a whole lot of fun. However, I don't really get the same buzz from shooters, be they first person or over the shoulder, as I do from say, an Uncharted game or the Mass Effect Series.
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier might be your standard grunts vs. terrorists, shoot everybody on the map kind of affair, but there's a degree of technical skill that initially makes the game a lot more enjoyable than other shooters. You play as part of a four-person team, jetting around the world, taking on corrupt militia and terrorists wherever they may strike.
The story is pretty paper thin, which is a shame, as there's an amazing gameplay dynamic that would cross the threshold from enjoyable to plain addictive if you actually cared about any of the characters involved. It's no accident that this review is so late - despite having an impressive array of futuristic tools and weaponry at your disposal, and the ability to control your squad to pull off sweet synch kills, nothing really hooks you into playing the game for any extended length of time. I'd find myself putting down the controller at the end of each level, switching off and finding something else to do, which is quite rare for me. Had there been a compelling story, I'd probably have stayed up until 4am a couple of nights on the trot, and cleared the game in a much timelier fashion.
As for the gameplay itself, it's a work of genius. Nothing can rival the first time you sneak into cover, then poke your head over the top to select 4 unsuspecting targets for the games signature synch kill. Once everyone has their specific target in sight, the HUD changes, and you gingerly squeeze the trigger, hoping to god you haven't missed anybody who could raise the alarm when they notice four sentry guards popping their clogs just a few feet away.
Stealth is an important element in Ghost Recon. You can't just run in guns blazing. You need to do a full reccy before pulling the trigger, as having the whole area put on high alert not only makes the level almost impossible to negotiate, but it can result in an instant game over. Luckily, there are number of things at your disposal to tip the odds in your favour. You're equipped with stealth camouflage, much like Metal Gear Solid 4, which is only fully effective if you crouch walk slowly or lay completely still. You've also got sensor grenades that will give away enemy positions, as well as a flying drone that can give you live aerial footage of the surrounding terrain, highlighting enemies, and allowing you to target them for synch kills, or to focus fire in one area so a member of the team can sneak around and flank the enemy. You also get the bog standard NVG, Heat Vision and a new Magnetic vision, which is essentially X-Ray.
One of the game's downfalls, or at least it is for a shooting noob like me, is the final level's difficulty spike. I pretty much thought I'd cleared the game, and then I was pulled back in for one last mission. The first half of the campaign is pretty straightforward, but when the enemy starts to close ranks, and the slightest wrong move can give away your position (not to mention the instant game over when one of your targets escape), it will take every ounce of willpower in your body not to launch your controller at the screen.
Another flaw is the game's terrible graphics. The cut scenes are populated with badly lip synched, and badly designed characters that look so much like possessed dolls, with their dead eyes and clumsy movement, that it can be a bit psychologically disturbing at times. In game graphics are slightly better, but they're still not going to win any awards.
Multiplayer in Ghost Recon is pretty strong. You can buddy up with up to three friends to take on story mode as a team, or to take on Guerrilla mode, which sees you defending a position against 50 waves of enemies. However, neither of these modes supports matchmaking. So if you've got no friends, that's just too bad.
There's also the standard multiplayer, which thankfully does support matchmaking, and has four modes: -
- Conflict: which is basically capture the flag.
- Decoy: where players fight over three objectives. The catch? Only one of them is the REAL objective.
- Saboteur: where players try to blow up the opposition's base.
- Siege: teams take turns protecting an objective whilst under attack. There are no respawns.
Your basic multiplayer package, then.
Overall, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is an amazing game let down by lack of story, poor graphics and with no real hook to reel you in, you may not find yourself rushing home to play it at the end of the day.