Giant Bomb Review

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Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier Review

3
  • X360

Ghost Recon Future Soldier has everything you'd expect from a modern shooter, but it doesn't really complete any of its tasks in an especially satisfying way.

This drone is FROM THE FUTURE.

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Future Soldier aims to deliver tactical shooter gameplay with a near-future tilt to it. That's not entirely unlike the Advanced Warfighter games that helped kickstart this generation of consoles back in 2006, but GRFS feels like it's trying to be slightly more realistic and slightly less tactical. The end result is a third-person shooter that feels caught between doctrines--it's not tactical enough to feel like a deep, strategic experience yet it punishes run-and-gun tactics just enough to prevent fans of those sorts of games from having a great time, either.

Though just dropping the word Future into the title of a game is enough to evoke images of rayguns and other out-of-reach gadgets, Future Soldier attempts to keep things grounded by focusing on plenty of technology that's already in-the-works, like active camouflage and info-laden HUD units that relay data on enemy positions between soldiers. While most of this stuff isn't seeing wide use on today's battlefields--making the "future" designator entirely accurate--it's hard to get excited about tech that's already prevalent in plenty of other video games. Having a fancy HUD might be mind-blowing if you're running through a real-life sandstorm while hunting down enemies, but with the way it's displayed in Future Soldier, it just feels like any other game with any other modern HUD.

From there, the game becomes a cover-based shooter with additional mechanics that give you a distinct upper-hand over the bad guys. These are rolled out to you one mission at a time, so at the beginning you'll start using sensor grenades, which paint enemy targets and show their outlines on your HUD. Later on you'll get access to tiny drones that can fly high above the battlefield and mark targets for the game's "sync shot" ability.

From the drone view you can tag enemies and order your squadmates to take them down.

In Future Soldier you roll as a team of four, and when you're not actively engaged in combat, you can tag enemies with the tap of a button. You can then hold that button down or take one of the shots yourself to trigger a synchronized attack from your squad. In missions where you can't raise any alarms, leaving a man standing is enough to send you back to the last checkpoint, so mastering this decidedly easy-to-master maneuver is crucial. It's satisfying, but it's also so intensely powerful that it feels like you're just stepping from one group of guards to the next, figuring out their patterns from a safe position high above the action, and cleaning them out whenever four or fewer guards peel off from the pack. Other missions do let you engage in direct combat with the enemy, and once this is happening, it's pretty easy to just hide behind cover and take your shots, much like any other cover-based shooter.

With the power of the sync shot, the campaign in Future Soldier gets pretty boring. It also has its share of bugs, including one case where I had to restart several times just to get one of my AI associates to actually make his way up to the spot that triggered the next sequence. This can, theoretically, be alleviated by playing the campaign cooperatively. This makes the sync shot function a little less automatic, and forces you to communicate with your squad. That's probably why the game lacks any sort of proper matchmaking for co-op, forcing you to seek out friends that also want to play Future Soldier. That's a sensible decision, but if people want to fumble their way through the game with a bunch of clumsy strangers, they should at least be given the choice. That also extends to the game's wave-based survival mode, called Guerrilla, which has an "open" party setting that seemingly locks down to invite only after you start a game. Either way, you can't get random players into it, which is pretty weak.

Alternate vision modes make this sandstorm no problem at all.

The competitive multiplayer, obviously, doesn't have this problem. The main mode in Future Soldier has you rotating between different objectives as the match goes on, sort of like Killzone's multiplayer mode. But most of these involve holding positions to activate EMPs that disrupt the enemy's electronics, holding down spots that become resupply points, taking out VIP targets, and so on. The mode forces players to move around the map, and the relative frailty of a single soldier makes teamwork extremely useful. Some of the tech tricks come into play in the multiplayer, giving you occasional looks at where enemies are located. As you earn experience points, you can unlock a lot of additional weapons and attachments. There's also a basic class system, allowing you to choose lighter characters that have active camo or going for more traditional soldiers. The intel system and the way it paints enemy silhouettes onto your HUD as you and your teammates discover their locations is interesting, but at its core it's a pretty standard cover-based shooting experience, just like the campaign. It's not bad.

Despite its bugs and some awkward presentation issues, Future Soldier, as a whole, isn't a bad game. It ticks all the boxes you'd expect a modern-day shooter to have and achieves most of them with a workmanlike quality that might make for a solid rental if the game didn't utilize an online pass for multiplayer access. But if you're looking for something that throws back to the days when the Tom Clancy name on a box actually meant that something unique was inside, Future Soldier comes up short.

Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
28 Comments
Posted by Pr1mus

No comments yet eh.

Posted by Deathdealer108

And half way down in the stories. Odd.

Posted by ImmortalSaiyan

@Deathdealer108 said:

And half way down in the stories. Odd.

Yeah, that happens sometimes. I've no idea why.

Posted by Animasta

@ImmortalSaiyan said:

@Deathdealer108 said:

And half way down in the stories. Odd.

Yeah, that happens sometimes. I've no idea why.

I assume because it was 'posted' on the 30th, but just now posted on the site.

Posted by supercubedude

Yeah, when a review pops in halfway down the page like that, I assume it's because the review is late or it's a game no one really cares about. This and Prototype 2 come to mind.

Posted by RickyF

I liked planning out and using the drone and the sync shot. Possibly because it was the only real 'tactical' part of a game that is not so slowly becoming another COD modern warfare. I thought the game broke down at points like the end of the game where its just run and gun or when you're defending a VIP as waves of enemies charge you.

Posted by Roger778

Well that's disappointing. The quick look was entertaining, and it made the game look like it was fun to play. At the same time, Jeff sounded kind of neutral on the game, so I guess I should have expected that.

Posted by FreakAche

Higher score than I was expecting.

Posted by beard_of_zeus

As Jeff noted, this seems like a solid rental (and Redbox happens to be carrying it) - bummer about the online pass, though. I still might rent it and blow through the campaign.
 
And I still don't understand why developers omit matchmaking for large chunks of their game. I get it, playing with random people isn't the ideal experience, but at least give me the option to, so that I can experience that part of your game. I'm sorry that I can't rope together 3 friends for every game that gets released.

Posted by Enigma777

Shame. I was hoping it would turn out great but after they gutted it 3-4 years ago, I knew that was just wishful thinking...

Posted by DarkFury

I picked it up on release and have had fun with the single-player so far. My main reason to get it was for multiplayer after playing the Beta for hours, though my own bar for quality just got raised real high by Max Payne 3 (single player and multiplayer). Will have to wait and see on this one.

Posted by Baal_Sagoth

My first few impressions of the game where actually positive enough. Maybe not "have to buy it for 50 € positive" but solid. The more opinions and gameplay videos I see the more the coating seems to come off the pseudo-tactical elements unfortunately. Your review seems to largely be in line with this. I have no problem with making the player very powerful and merely conveying the meticulously crafted illusion of tactical prowess but when that leads not only to a low level of challenge but also to boredom and repetetiveness it creates a mediocre experience. Unfortunate, somewhere in this package is a "tactical" shooter I'd like to play I think.

Posted by Video_Game_King

Somebody should put a bell around Jeff's neck so I know when he's reviewed a game.

Online
Posted by Sdoots

That last bit about the Tom Clancy name is one of the most depressing things I've seen in a long time.

So that's Splinter Cell and Ghost Recon down, and some would argue Rainbow Six went downhill with Vegas, though I disagree. What else can they run into the ground with the TC name? ruthless.com?

Posted by Godlyawesomeguy

I just wish things would go back to the way they used to be, as the review described in the final sentence. I wonder if this will sell to their expectations because of how shallow, and multiplayer-focused they made it to appease the casual fanbase.

Posted by chan05

I played every Ghost Recon game and i really like the direction they are going with this (although i would have prefered another GRAW). This seems to be a good middle ground between classic Ghost Recon and more modern shooters such as the Call of Dutys. I also found the Quicklook to be really entertaining and gameplay looked really satisfying to me. And also one should consider that Ghost Recon games have NEVER been games for a broad audience. They have always been made for people that prefer tactics over run and gun. And to me it seems the tactical component in Future Soldier is still strong enough to make me want to play it. All in all I do not agree with Jeffs "everything is not quite satisfying"...I played Modern Warfare 3 for 1 hour and that was the most unsatisfying shooter I played in a long time. So why not be a bit more easy on this one...otherwise we won't see these kind of "different" shooters anymore. But of course...thats just my opinion.

Posted by Kartana

Shortest Review in GB history? Jesus... does anyone at CBS check what you guys do all day long?

Posted by strings19

I do have a soft spot for GR games, I've finished most of them, and barely played any other shooters. I rented and completed FS's campaign over 3 days, and was glad I tried it for myself.

Being overpowered doesn't help make the game enjoyable if you don't use the tools the game provides. It was still easy to survive firefights with standard cover based shooting, but not fun. I loved sending the UAV ahead to plan my every move. The highlights of the game were the levels I never got detected. As soon as a proper fight starts, all tension was lost and it turns into a slog until I got the chance to start sneaking again.

Posted by RHYMESCHEME23

The graphical setbacks and server issues really taint the greatness of this game. Ubisoft fell off just a bit.

Posted by MiniPato

I don't understand why they held back on the future part of Future Soldier. Everyone remember the promotional stuff for this game when it was first announced? You had shouldmounted anti-armor rockets, crazy looking future guns, Tachikoma looking drones.

Posted by Hellfire2122

I'd get the game If there was actual squad control, from what i've seen this looks like nothing close to the quality of Graw 2.

Posted by huntad

If the next Splinter Cell is revealed at E3 and it's not along the lines of Chaos Theory, then i'll believe that Ubisoft's aim is definitely changing. I'm also psyched and worried for Rainbow 6 patriots as well.

Posted by spartica

I guess you can stop a bullet.

Posted by Vindo

@Kartana said:

Shortest Review in GB history? Jesus... does anyone at CBS check what you guys do all day long?

That is why I come here. I don't need five pages for a review that can be done in one. At most other sites I just read the closing comments and the score.

Posted by Grambo

This game is made so that people will learn and use tactics in combat. The main point of this is teamwork. Without that main component, whether in campaign or online multiplayer, you will suffer.

Posted by 234r2we232

I'm really enjoying this game so far. Very satisfying, if not especially difficult. Not sure how far I am into the campaign (maybe over 3 hours) but there have been no shortage of "cool" moments and slow-motion shooting dudes in the head.

From a gameplay standpoint, there's not a huge amount to it. You spend a good chunk of your time soaking in the environment, looking for enemies and hiding behind stuff. Then comes the action. The moments where you're, the action is very well done with a combination of the shooting itself feeling excellent, and some really good set-up. This game does battle immersion really well. As good as the stealth moments are, the action scenes are a lot of fun, and balanced well (so far).

So yeah. Campaign/challenges, an addictive, deep multiplayer mode and a Horde mode help make this game great value. If you're not playing Call of Duty but enjoy action/adventure shooting games, it's worth checking out. CGR has an excellent video review which does the game far better justice than Jeff's IMO :)

Posted by Cusseta

I actually think it's a damn good game. After listening to Jeff talk about it and reading the reviews I was convinced it was going to be on the boring side, but it's really not : / If anyone out there was interested in the game before the reviews, I suggest you give it a shot and you might be pleasantly surprised!

Posted by honkyjesus

I tried playing this recently as a rental. At one point I started it up to continue the campaign, eight minutes later the game actually started. It has moments, yet I had to wonder how long this game was sitting on a shelf, and why they would spend extra time to try and polish a camouflaged turd.

Very mediocre game, this and Max Payne 3 have to form a trilogy with Mass Effect 3 as most overhyped crapware of the year.