The lights are on
After several setbacks and missed deadlines, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier has finally arrived and it doesn't disappoint. There are many that will argue that it doesn't live up to current shooter standards but what have current shooter standards meant? If anything the standards have become an unrealistic and pathetic misrepresentation of what combat is really about. Run and gun shooters like the Call of Duty series and Battlefield series have taken away from what true squad based combat is all about. Ubisoft decided to step into the ring with something fresh and innovative that nobody else seems to consider to be important at all--TEAMWORK.
After five years Ubisoft has had a lot to consider and big changes were expected. While Future Soldier still shows off some of the same base mechanics that have become staples of the series, new technology and animations have brought the Ghost Recon series back into the future. The cover to cover sprinting that Gears of War fans have been familiar with has made a very noticable appearance in Future Soldier and it adds to the versatility of the gameplay. No longer will you crouch, crawl, walk or jog to your next point of cover. Now you will run for your life to reach your next point of safety. Tuck your head and leg it before you get gunned down! The low profile action camera angle makes this feel like a true life or death race to safety. Which brings us to the next point--cover!
While other shooters show off fast-paced, non-stop action; there is one element always missing. How many times have you been in a shootout in a Modern Warfare game and wished that you could do more than just duck behind that barrel where your head is visible and anyone can see your gun hanging out from the side? Ubisoft has always done a great job of implementing a true cover system and this seems to be the best yet. Cover-to-cover movements are a great new addition that bring out realism of battle. The best part of the new cover system is how you can truly suppress the enemy behind cover. Get pinned by some concentrated LMG bursts and your soldier will frantically duck down behind cover and the camera will tighten giving you no real view of what is going on beyond that cover point. The only thing missing is the urine stained pants.
Not only is the cover system realistic in how you can glue yourself against a wall like a smashed house fly but the materials carry realistic characteristics. Find an enemy behind a wooden fence and send him packing with a few freshly carved toothpicks. If an enemy gets behind solidly reinforced concrete they will likely be saved from a bullet. No more hiding behind a flimsy obstacle for safety. You must choose cover wisely when gunfire is involved.
The graphics in Future Soldier will not knock your socks off. There are no spanning vistas or waterfalls with incredibly real textures and ripple effects as the water splashes into a slow moving river. However, the character models are lifelike enough and the animations blend well. Cut-scenes will almost make you chuckle at how cartoonish the characters look and sometimes move but if you are looking to a game for it's incredible cut-scenes you're looking for the wrong style of game. While somewhat dated, the graphics are not horrible and serve the purpose of the game just fine. The scenery is ok with a few bland details here and there. The particle effects in a sand or snow storm definitely make the situation feel more frustrating regardless of how well the magnetic goggles show off outlines of objects and enemies.
What really makes Future Soldier a must buy is the truly co-operative style of gameplay. No true battle is won by a one-man-army. It takes solid teamwork and communication to make it through a warzone alive. Ubisoft brings this to light even if going at the camapign as a single player. Your AI teammates will alert you of situations as they arise and will spot targets and inform you of their location and even what kind of weaponry they are holding. This is alway nice in case you missed that rifleman by the tree staring you down. The sync shot and concentrated fire mechanics are impressively done. There is nothing better than firing a shot into the skull of an enemy only to see three more well placed shots from your team and four bodies dropping to the ground in pefect syncronization.
The real beauty behind this necessary teamwork based style of gameplay is the fact that you can have up to three other people join you as you move through your campaign. This is where the team mechanics are up to you. Mark your targets and discuss with your team who is going to take each target and then countdown to the perfect sync shot. Each player has a purpose and can help the team whether it be by sniping a target from a safe position or by using a UAV drone to scout ahead. True teamwork will result in a very rewarding experience for all involved and many lose sight that this is exactly what Ubisoft has focused on all this time. Not only was it a focus but in my opinion they have delivered very accurately.
The multiplayer is a fresh experience with new technology like stun guns and data-hacking. Down an opponent and hack their data pack to gain knowledge of their team's position and then finish them off. Sneak your way behind enemy lines as a scout with stealth camo or lay down some suppressive fire as a rifleman. Each class has it's own set of available weapons and gadgets and each play a significant role in the outcome of each match. Tactics win out once again in the advesarial modes. Let's say that you want to take a slightly less stealthy and tactical approach. Don't worry, you're covered.
Guerilla mode is taking advantage of other popular survival modes. Defend an area against waves of enemies until a new objective is pointed out and move along and do it again. This is another great co-op mode that allows you and your friends to work together to achieve a common goal and is more based upon intense battle that stealth and tactics. The downside to this mode is that it is usually pinned down by travelling back and forth between two or three hot-zones in each map. Regardless it is still fun. The more people you have on your team the better. It can get hairy. Save your gadgets between waves and stock up. You'll need everything you have at your disposal.
Gunsmith while a pretty neat looking tool at first is a bit overhyped. It's not as innovative as you would expect but it offers a great level of customization. The best part is you can take your newly built weapon straight out to the range for a test fire to see how well it handles. Each modification you make changes the weapons behavior slightly. Undergass the weapon and it becomes much more accurate but loses rate of fire. Overgass it and the exact opposite happens. Each piece changes the guns accuracy, manuverability, range and how much punch it's packing.
The last thing I can add is that the re-play value of this title is limited to a degree. The adversarial modes can get repetitive and guerilla mode will have you feel like you're just pacing the main hall in your house sometimes. The true re-play time that I've spent is in trying to unlock different weapons and attachments. There are so many different play-based unlocks that carry true challenges that you can't possibly unlock everything in a single play-through. While it can be a bit boring to play a mission through a third time it is rewarding to know that you will have the advantage of having a new type of ammo magazine or a nifty new sniper rifle awaiting you when you return to gunsmith.
Overall Ubisoft has done an amazing job of showing off their fearless nature. They aren't afraid to step away from the standards and move in a refreshing direction. While Call of Duty and Battlefield enthusiasts may not take to Future Soldier due to the diferrence in style the game has achieved it's own set goals beautifully. Teamwork is a must to survive and stealth plays no more part than all out gun battles. While the campaign is still somewhat linear, you have much more freedom to choose how you get to your checkpoints. Challenges offer tons of replay value and the ability to have all live teammates makes the campaign all the more rewarding. Advesarial multiplayer while a bit sloppy at points offers new tactics and play style that you won't get with the average shooter. Guerilla mode is a great mode for gun battles and is a test of your endurance. Regardless of a few minor details such as forgettable voice acting and cheesy cut-scenes, Future Soldier is right on the mark. Anyone looking for a TRUE tactical shooter definitely needs to get their hands on this one.
this is an actual good review of this game where as all the other "critics" like gameinformer and ign didn't give it the praise it should, thanks for enlightening the rest of us who didn't know how awesome this game was!!!
Solid review; thanks for posting your thoughts!
This game looks cool. I just got a M4 like in the game www.airsplat.com/airsoft-video-games.htm and they have a bunch of other guns from different games.