The Ghost Recon series returns with Future Solider, but is this new instalment good enough to topple the dominance of CoD and Battlefield?
Developer: Red Storm/Ubisoft
Format: Xbox 360 (tested), PS3 and PC
Available: Out now
Fans of the Ghost Recon series have had quite a wait for the latest instalment in the series as it has been five years now since Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2 originally debuted and, to some extent, the gaming landscape has been shifted considerably in that time by the likes of Modern Warfare and Battlefield. In a bid to play catch-up, Future Soldier has eschewed the contemporary setting of its peers in favour of a near-future timeline that allows the makers to toy with some fantastic up-and-coming technology and shiny gadgets to lure players back to the Clancy way of doing things.
Indeed, GR:FS even embraces the future by being Kinect friendly – some menus and the gun customisation interface now support gestural input when putting together your dream weapon and test-firing it at the range. While a welcome use of technology, this also means getting up and standing in the centre of the room – which is no bad thing, I guess, but it’s easier to just use the pad.
The future soldier theme also means plenty of technological treats such as spy grenades which reveal enemy positions, portable drones which watch the battlefield from above and optical stealth camo that makes you all but invisible until you move or fire. And that’s all before we get to the weapons, walking tanks and pretty lights drawn over everything by your tactical displays…
The gameplay in the campaign mode utilises the same over the shoulder, squad based system as Gears of War and its ilk – and generally entails rushing from cover to cover as you proceed down a fairly linear route, following waypoints to achieve your objectives. More focus has been placed on the action for this instalment – something which may irk traditions GR fans who favoured the more tactical approach of Future Soldier’s forebears. However, charging headlong into battle is still a sure route to an early restart and a level of tactical play remains intact.
Multiplayer is designed to ensure cooperation between online team-members with six game types each boasting two maps and game perks and rewards dished out for well realised teamwork. There is also the option to play through the campaign with friends and a ‘horde’ mode that sees the team face off against 50 increasingly frenetic waves of attackers.
Three character classes are available – scouts are a sniper class, clothed in optical camo; engineers are handy in close combat and can hack enemy’s for intel while riflemen are more resilient and can lay down suppressive fire. Each class has a different weapon set available to them – all of which are totally customisable in the aforementioned gun-smithing menu.
The game features beautifully detailed characters and weapons but, sadly, falls a little flat in the environment detailing – textures are flat and sparse and Future Soldier certainly lacks the visual ‘wow’ factor that DICE brought to Battlefield 3. Otherwise, it’s a worthy addition to a much loved series of games and, with a little tweaking and extra downloadable content, could be one to watch out for…