Shooter games are something I’ve never been a big fan of. First person shooters have always been a bane to me. Quick moving camera motions cause some kind of motion sickness, not to mention that I usually can’t aim for the life of my character, literally. The only shooter game I have fond memories of was Golden Eye 007 on N64, and that was more for the multiplayer with my cousin and his friends than the single player story mode. With that said, it wasn’t until the Battlefield 3 multiplayer beta that I gained a new appreciation of shooters. I really enjoyed that beta, so when the opportunity came to check out the Ghost Recon: Future Soldier beta, I hopped on it to see what was up. For anyone who tried out the beta and hated the loading screens that would freeze up and disconnect you from the server, these are gone, I can’t stress that enough, THE LOADING SCREEN FREEZE IS GONE. Now that I have that out of the way, let’s get to business.
Starting Future Soldier, you’re greeted to an interesting intro video exhibiting some of the things that will be happening in the game. Once you get to the main menu, you have 3 main gameplay modes; Multiplayer, Campaign, and Guerrilla. I’ll explain these later. Below these you have 4 minor options; Squads: which is where you’ll make your own squad using friends from your friends list, for use in online game modes. Extras: which is where your options, credits, and in game manual are. Uplay: which is your door into Ubisoft’s U-Play store for their branded games. Downloadable content: which is self explanatory, is the last option.
Now, among the gameplay modes I’d like to talk about Campaign first. Campaign is the story mode for this game, which is a crazy story about terrorists based out of Russia and some other stuff. Wouldn’t want to spoil it. Campaign can be played single player or multi player, with a local or online partner. You can also use your squad of friends in this mode so that you and 3 other people can dominate the campaign and save the world, or something. Campaign also serves another purpose, I’ve found. In the course of playing the campaign, you gain usage of new weapons, both in the primary and secondary weapon spots, meaning you can have a rifle and a pistol, or a shotgun and an SMG. The weapons are given to you according the environment the mission is taking place in, and what the big boss tells you would be good. Although you do have the freedom to switch your weapons to your own liking as well. Now, while using all these weapons is a fun experience and almost every mission offers a new toy to use; what campaign really is to me, is practice with all these weapons for multiplayer modes. Because in campaign, you’re able to use weapons in the secondary weapon spot that are primary weapons in multiplayer modes. This is a smart move because it lets you use all the weapons in the game during the course of campaign before you get into the nitty gritty of the multiplayer modes, and Ghost Recon’s money is the the multiplayer mode. Why else would it be first in the menu list.
In Multiplayer, you start off with the option of being a Scout, a Rifleman or an Engineer. There are also 3 other classes that need to be unlocked by leveling up the characters you start off with. The Scout is your ninja/sniper of the bunch. He has active camo, usually can snipe, and is probably the quickest runner of the bunch, depending on what you’re packing. The Rifleman is your muscle, he’s not quick, he’s not much of a sniper (unless you decide to try and make him one), but he’s the one with the grenades, and can take a decent amount of shots. And The Engineer is your hound dog, meaning, he has the tools and abilities to help the rest of the team by using sensors and other toys to show where the enemy is hiding.
Once you get going in Multiplayer, there are 4 different games to be played. Conflict, which is the main game, where you have the Ghost Team and the Bodark Team, fighting to win objectives within a 10-15 minute time limit, depending on what the game is set to. Decoy, in which the Attacking team has 3 objectives and only 1 of those objectives is the real objective. It’s basically capture the flag, but there’s three flags, and only 1 is the real flag. Once you get the real objective you’re given a “final objective.” The defending team’s only job is to stop the attacking team, at all costs. The next game in multiplayer is Saboteur. This game is about each team trying to secure a bomb, that’s somewhere on the map. Once they get the bomb they have to transport it to the enemy’s base. The final game in multiplayer is Siege. This one is the hardcore game. You have an attacking team, that has 1 objective, and a defending team that needs to stop the attacking team from getting the objective. The thing that makes this hardcore is that there are no re-spawns, once you’re dead, you’re dead.
The overall gameplay of Ghost Recon is very smooth and responsive. You play in a third person, over the shoulder, view. This is good, as it lets you get a better sense of where your character is, in relation to your environment, but it can get very frustrating when the camera is stuck behind the character’s head and you can’t see where you’re shooting which is a problem that happens more often in multiplayer than in campaign. Aiming, sniping, tossing sensors and grenades, are all very smooth, but take a while to get used to, because switching into the first person sniping view sometimes puts your aim in the wrong spot. This can be helped by making sure the really light cross-hair on screen is already where you want to aim.
A big part of the gameplay is based around teamwork. Reviving teammates, saving teammates from an enemy firing at them, or suppressing fire. These are all things that get you extra XP in combat, more over than just killing an enemy. In fact, most enemy kills will only give you 50 XP, if you’re just working on your own. Team work is rewarded heavily. Anything and everything that helps your team as a whole will rack up the XP for you. The biggest thing you can do, and it’s a big part of multiplayer, is data hacking the enemy. This is done by using a stun gun on an enemy and just hacking him while he’s prone on the floor, then killing him afterward. But, you can also shoot an enemy but not kill him, which will leave him crawling on the floor asking for help from his team. If you’re lucky, you or a teammate can reach him in time to hack him. If you’re unlucky, however, you’ll reach him in time to get shot by his team mate.
A big gripe I have with the gameplay is the melee mechanic. You can sneak up on enemies and stealth kill, or come up from the front and stab them in the head. But, in the heat of battle, somehow this doesn’t become an option. I don’t know how many times I’ve slammed on the X button, trying to kill a guy that’s right in front of me reloading his gun, and it just won’t work. I don’t know if it’s a lag issue, but it just sucks when you think you should be stabbing a guy and next thing you know you’re on the floor from bullet wounds. My only other gripe isn’t gameplay related. It’s that during multiplayer games, sometimes a host migration happens. What this is, if I remember correctly, is that the whole game is moved to a different server. The team scores and XP gained aren’t affected, but if you were in the middle of lining up a shot or getting an objective, it’ll probably make you a little mad to find out that everyone has to start in their deploy zones after a host migration.
Overall, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, is a shooter that I really enjoy. It’s fun, is a great multiplayer game to play with friends and has a pretty decent story in the campaign. Are there things that could be better…of course. Rarely does any game get everything right the first time out. But as it is, I think the game fulfills what it’s trying to deliver and that’s a military styled shooting game based on teamwork. The squad system is something I think is really cool and works well with a group of friends who all own the game. I also think rewarding team work as opposed to individual success is an awesome idea in these types of games. The buddy system, people. It works!