Ghost Recon: Future Soldier Review
After its gutting and rework post-horrible E3 preview in 2010, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier has been released and stands proudly as the next title in the popular Ubisoft franchise. The game plants you in the middle of yet another clichéd rogue-nuke crisis as a member of the elite Ghost squad, a Special Forces branch of the U.S. Navy. Armed with prototype equipment including active camouflage, your squad of four is sent around the world to chase down arms dealers and ultranationalists and discover the source of this new global threat.
A lot of the systems present in other Tom Clancy titles have a heavy influence in Future Soldier. Splinter Cell: Conviction’s Mark & Execute mechanic (renamed sync shot), features in a slightly altered iteration, fitting seamlessly into the Ghost’s updated arsenal. Players can mark up to four targets for you and your squad mates to kill at the same time. Your squad will open fire concurrently with your initial shot, effectively killing your targets simultaneously. The system helps remove any margin of error associated with countdowns and feels incredibly satisfying when successfully pulled off. Sync shot quickly becomes an arbitrary win button however. Encounters would frequently consist of waiting for groups to separate and tapping RB a couple of times and moving on towards the next checkpoint.
The heavily reworked cover mechanics are the biggest improvement in the Ghost Recon Series. Moving in and out of cover is very fluid and well animated. The freneticism of sprinting and all contextual actions feel really dynamic. On a few occasions though the squad AI would get stuck on terrain or bug out and not form up at a checkpoint. I would then be forced to reload the section. Fortunately the checkpoints are well placed and my original position is only a few RB taps away.
The campaign offers a solid mix of stealth and open firefights. Red Storm has paced the combination well. Firefights are really enjoyable. Future Soldier features a very clever suppression mechanic built where the more you are under fire, the closer the camera pulls into your character effectively decreasing your field of vision. Shootouts are never dragged out excessively and players are constantly pushed to move forward, enhancing the sense of urgency in the storyline.
Future Solider does suffer from some blatant texture pop-in issues, particularly between in-engine cut scenes and gameplay. The ground would just be a white paste for up to 10 seconds until rubble would finally appear. Frame rate can drop during particularly intense firefights causing frustration and one or two restarts. The game also hits a nerve when it gives you control over a guided missile system, only to render your controls inert and guide it automatically to the intended target. It really begs the question as to allowing control over something if they ultimately have no impact on. Multiplayer is competent, and the horde mode-styled Guerrilla mode offers a decent mix up of options if you are tired of competitive play.
Red Storm has released a competent shooter, but unfortunately the fancy hues and plethora of customisable guns do not hide the fact that the gameplay is not futuristic at all. It is respectable, however too many other new games out that have such systems locked down tight.