Review: Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier
Right from the top when you hear the words Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier you first wonder “just how far in the future are we talking here? Is it a laser beam and flying cars future?”
The best way to say it is, if you took the Flintstones and the Jetsons then split the difference. That’s the future we’re dealing with. For the most part it’s the kind of warfare you see today. There are a few nice enhancements with gear that makes you invisible and a robot the size of a small car that has missiles and bombs at the ready and is so well protected you can use it for cover but overall it’s today’s military.
You play as one of the four members of Ghost squad, an elite fighting force meant to sneak in and get out without anyone being the wiser. The previous Ghosts were on a mission that went south and it’s up to you and your three squad mates to get to the bottom of this all. That means trekking all over the globe to track down leads about what happened and along the way find out the entire plot. It’s a lengthy campaign that will take you a while to complete depending on the difficulty level and your overall skill. For the average player playing on the easiest difficulty there are about a dozen hours of gameplay here. The game is extended even more by trying to reach certain objectives for each level you play which in turn unlocks certain bonuses for the different game modes, even after a level is complete there’s reason to go back and try to get all the objectives completed.
The best way to say it is if you took the Flintstones and the Jetsons then split the difference.
When a game has a sizable campaign it needs to make sure that it always keeps you interested and Ghost Recon: Future Soldier does not disappoint, most notably with it’s sync shot. The sync shot is one of the most enjoyable mechanics of the year, giving you the ability to “tag” up to three enemies to be shot and then have all four of you fire either by you firing or just commanding the other 3 shots to be made by pressing the right bumper. When the sync shot is first introduced it’s an easy peasy system where you see four guys standing around, you tag three of them to be shot and once you pull the trigger to drop the fourth guy your squad shoots too and four bodies fall to the ground. Later on you’re going to be setting up some serious synchronized shooting with your squad trying to get angles of different enemies as they do patrols and move around the levels.
Getting good at the sync shot is important because there are certain portions of levels that can only be completed by staying undetected and that means knowing when and where to shoot enemies on the map. If you leave a few dead guys on the floor for someone to find, an alarm goes off and you’re restarting the mission. While this does bring a great strategic element into the game it does feel a bit jarring to go from a run down city streets taking out everything in your way on a 5 mile firefight and then be forced to tiptoe and hold position while you see how someone’s patrol plays out.
The sync shot makes even the slow parts of the game fun to play, you can even get to the point where by tagging and pulling on the right bumper you don’t have to fire a single shot across parts of a level, just have your squad do the dirty work. Also in regular combat you’re able to tag the most dangerous enemies so that your squad focuses on the guys with the rockets shooting at you and not the guys with pistols hiding behind the sandbags.
While the stealth and run-and-gun are fun to play and feel right there are two forms of gameplay that crop up that aren’t all that fun to play:
- 1. On rails: What happens in almost every single level is that at one point you’re forced to use only a handgun and work your way through a predetermined path at a predetermined speed. Going from something as well designed as the tag system, to just be thrown into a military version of Space Harrier is not fun and shouldn’t be in the game. It works and it’s not broken but there’s no reason at all for this to be in the game.
- 2. The “secure this spot for this time limit” situations: At one point in every level you’re going to have to find a spot and then stay there while you’re surrounded by enemies and it’s done way too often. There’s a spot in Modern Warfare that you have to stay in a deserted amusement park while hoards of bad guys come to kill you and I will remember playing that on the hardest difficulty until I die, that happened just once. Now the “sit here and avoid bullets” segments aren’t even close to what Modern Warfare dished out but they happen so often that they become annoying rather then challenging.
The gameplay mechanics are done wonderfully with a great layout for controls, and weapons feel good when you fire them. There’s weight and recoil to weapons that vary depending on what you’re using at the moment. All of your tech is easy to use without a lot of complicated inputs for different tools. Everything is well designed to make you get hang of the controls and then that’s it, just go and use this stuff, there are no tweaks during gameplay that upset the balance of learning the controls and using the controls.
The entire campaign can be played with up to four people on Xbox Live.
The characters in the game are done pretty well. They’re not the usual “hey we’re military guys, pass me a beer while I do push ups” generic military types, instead they try to be a bit more human. For my money no one does this better then Bad Company, those games are worth playing just to see how the cast interacts, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier isn’t on that level but it is commendable that they’re making the attempt to at least have a different set of main characters. They won’t give you unforgettable moments but you’ll find yourself noticing how they’re all developed and enjoy the glimpses in their life away from the combat.
When you’re done with the campaign there’s a guerrilla mode (hoard mode) to tackle and it’s got a different feel because it’s not set in the actual gameplay. It can be done online or off and has maybe the best ramp in difficulty I’ve seen from a hoard mode yet. You’ll use the maps from the game and it’s a nice addition, you’ll find yourself trying out different builds to tackle the different kinds of enemies that will rush you.
The main multiplayer mode is just fantastic, one of the best I’ve seen ever, it’s that good.
It’s broken down into four different modes:
- Saboteur: Escort someone through the map to plant a bomb, escort missions are playable when there’s a real person on the other end.
- Conflict: Random objectives that have two teams fighting to accomplish first and mowing down the opposing teams while they do it.
- Decoy: Multiple objectives and only one is real, teams must plan how to tackle locations so as not to let the true one go unchallenged.
- Siege: One life and various objectives. Unlike the other modes where respawning is done to perfection Siege has an all or nothing feel to it that’s exciting and nerve wracking.
Sound is great. The voice work fits and is delivered in a convincing way that really helps reinforce the “real people” vibe they’re going for. Gunshots and explosions sound great with all of the weapons sounding very different from each other.
Music is fitting and doesn’t detract from the gameplay. It’s slow where it needs to be and it picks up the pace in firefight situations though it’s not the kind of music that signals what’s happening by it’s pace and I appreciate that.
Why it may be helpful with people with anxiety
- Interesting characters
- Fun gameplay with interesting mechanics
- Lot of multiplayer modes to play online or offline
Why it may be unhelpful with people with anxiety
- Wartime situations may be stressful for anyone who suffers from PTSD
- Siege is stressful with only one life the entire match
Why you should be playing this
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier has everything you want in a game, a single player campaign that goes all out when it comes to content and a multiplayer experience that is bested by no one. I really can’t say enough about how complete this game is on all levels.
Yes, there are some gameplay elements that I shake my head at, but they’re easily overlooked by the sheer quantity of quality that’s everywhere else. This is a must play game for everyone if they’re not bothered by games featuring combat like this, my only reservation is for people who suffer from PTSD, other than that there’s plenty of quality inside.
This review was based on the Xbox 360 version that was provided by the reviewer.
May 22, 2012
XBOX 360, PS3
Sync shot mechanic, plenty of game modes, long campaign, enjoyable characters
Pacing issues, friendly AI problems, too many "stay and defend this spot" moments