Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Review: Ghost Recon - Future Soldier

It took five long years before Ubisoft finally released their fifth follow-up to to their highly successful tactical third-person shooter franchise, Ghost Recon. From the release of Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2 (GRAW2) in 2007, fans of the series were left lingering for a couple of years until Ubisoft unveiled the development of Ghost Recon: Future Soldier in 2009; so that means the game spent roughly three years being perfected for a hungry audience. Does Ubisoft once again deliver in their ever promising Tom Clancy collection, or will this title bite the dust?

Genre: Action, Tactical, Third-Person Shooter
Developer: Ubisoft Paris
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: May 22nd, 2012
Play Time: 8-12 Hours
Price: $19.99 USD
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, Playstation 3

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Rating: 8.0/10







It took five long years before Ubisoft finally released their fifth follow-up to to their highly successful tactical third-person shooter franchise, Ghost Recon. From the release of Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2 (GRAW2) in 2007, fans of the series were left lingering for a couple of years until Ubisoft unveiled the development of Ghost Recon: Future Soldier in 2009; so that means the game spent roughly three years being perfected for a hungry audience. Does Ubisoft once again deliver in their ever promising Tom Clancy collection, or will this title bite the dust?

The really sad thing about Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is that it completely went under the radar for a lot of gamers. It's easy to see how the game fell to the wayside when other titles such as Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, Diablo 3 and Max Payne 3 were being released around the same time. I had recognized the launch date and then completely forgot about the game myself, after being disappointed with the short campaign of its predecessor and not being eager to set another $60 ablaze for four hours of mediocre entertainment. The latter statement also proved true for other tactical game lovers who were dissatisfied with the Call of Duty mindset that GRAW2 had abruptly adapted; give a small amount of campaign game play, because who cares about that junk, and throw everything else into multiplayer... but not even decent multiplayer (this is in reference to the Xbox 360 version, which I hear is different from the PC version). But we're not here to talk about the past, this is the future.


Ghost Recon: Future Soldier opens with a four-man Ghost team, code-named "Predator", in a short but attention grabbing prologue. When the team inspects a convoy of vehicles a bomb detonates and kills the team, thus prompting an investigation to track down the source of the bomb. This task is assigned to another Ghost team, "Hunter", who are led by Captain Cedric Ferguson, Master Sergeant Robert "Pepper" Bonifacio, Sergeant First Class Jimmy "30K" Ellison and the player character Staff Sergeant John Kozak. The player will be assigned to twelve missions throughout the campaign, which can be played in either solo mode or co-op with up to three other people, and will need to overcome a variety of obstacles through each objective. Each mission is roughly 45 minutes to an hour, sometimes an hour and a half, depending on skill and difficulty.

One of the most important mechanics for a tactical shooter to be successful is the Artificial Intelligence (AI) and luckily for the player the AI in this title is clever and sophisticated. You have the ability to mark up to four enemies to complete either a synchronized shot or to guide the AI through combat via high-priority targets. Not once during my playthrough did one of my three AI buddies get stuck, nor did they fail to rescue me when I became downed due to injury and lastly I could never scream and blame them for me dying time and time again; this is actually an incredibly impressive feature that games which were released around the same time still lacked in some instances.


The graphics here aren't all they were cracked up to be in the beginning. The promos for this game gave it a heavy next-gen feel but once the content is in-hand it feels a little dated. This could be due to the number of times the release date was pushed back, as it was originally projected for a 2010-2011 release frame. It does appear that the character models were slightly updated, however most of the ground and building textures remained at par. The environments, however, are fairly majestic as the player travels through snow squalls, dust storms, rain, fog, woodlands and urban areas. However, most of the player's time will be spent looking through either night vision or magnetic vision filters to make enemies more visible. The touches of snow, dirt and rain on the HUD add more realism to the game and are even there while using a vision filter. It's also a fresh change of pace seeing characters that change their own outfits according to weather conditions, so the look of the group of four never becomes stale.

Played on an Xbox 360 controller the key bindings feel extremely smooth and validated, with only one hindrance; the player must press B to crouch and A to slide into cover when it is generally the opposite. The difficulty of the game is absolutely ludicrous at times, where you have the option of Rookie, Veteran, Elite and Hardcore, just on Veteran mode alone the game deals the player a swift kick to the balls consistently; three hits from a bullet, you're down. You get downed three times and on your third fall you're dead, it's back to the checkpoint if you were lucky enough to hit one. This becomes exceedingly frustrating in the later three missions or at any point that enemies are surrounding the gamer from all sides. However, this does give some much needed (and appropriate) challenge for the tactical genre.


There are a good amount of customization options in Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. Each part of every gun can be customized to the player's desire including the trigger, muzzle, paint, optics, magazine, under barrel, side rail, gas system, barrel and grip. In multiplayer the gamer can choose the look of their character on each faction as well as the aforesaid gun options; although multiplayer is, at least on PC, almost completely dead at this point. Furthermore the player is able to choose both their primary and side weapons, as well as two gadgets, and the game gives predetermined outfitting for each mission in case newcomers are unsure of what loadout they would need or if players just don't feel like going through a multitude of different options each time.

The soundtrack might as well be non-existent except for a few techno stylings here and there, which seem to be a trademark of the Tom Clancy series now. Most often the player will be listening to the sounds of the battlefield, which consists of gunfire, shouting, explosions, footsteps and wind. A little more ambiance or musical undertones could've squeezed a little extra "umph" out of the game, however the lack of dynamic sound is not noticed as much as one might think. The adrenaline pumping missions keep the player focused on the task at hand and on little else.

Overall, Ghost Recon- Future Soldier is a fun, solid, underrated tactical shooter that deserves more recognition. The missions are original and enjoyable, the environments are engaging and the difficulty level of the game is challenging. The endurance of the solo campaign won't exceed the 15 hour mark, however it's nearly three times longer than its forerunner and a hell of a lot more lively. Definitely worth checking out, although maybe not worth the full price, wait for this one to go on sale since the multiplayer is dead and gone. I got my copy for $4.99 on Steam, PC gamers be warned as this title plays through UPlay and for whatever reason will overheat your graphics card; mine stayed at 64C the entire time while playing this title.

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