The Ghost Recon franchise has a long and storied history and has also gone through some pretty drastic changes over the years. Ghost Recon Future Soldier is one of those titles that seemed like it was in development for many years and no one knew whether it would ever see the light of day. Fortunately, after spending time with the game, I feel good in saying that Ghost Recon Future Soldier was worth the wait. I will immediately say though that if you are looking for a Ghost Recon title similar to how the franchise started out then this isn’t the title for you. For others Ghost Recon Future Soldier is more in the vein of the Advanced Warfighter series. Future Soldier is a third person cover shooter where you can play with three AI controlled players or with three of your friends over Xbox Live. There is also the standard multiplayer suite along with Ghost Recon’s version of a “horde mode”.
The story of Ghost Recon Future Soldier begins with your squad being tasked to extract a person of interest from a hot zone before enemy combatants can get to him. This is mainly the first level of the game and introduces you to some of the mechanics that you will use throughout the game. As you get through the first few levels you’ll get a chance to utilize some “future technology” with one of my favorites being the drone. Once you truly understand how to use this it can become one of the most formidable weapons in the game without having to fire a single bullet. In times of crisis when my team was being overrun I would find some place safe to take cover and then send the drone out to scout out the situation. You have direct control of the drone and I loved being able to fly over an area and mark the position of enemies so that the rest of my squad would know where they were and could eliminate them quickly. The way I would let my squad know enemy positions was by marking enemies with the right bumper which would bring up the sync shot interface. You can have up to four enemies marked at any one time as there are four of you. There are quite a few instances in the game where you have to make your way through an area without setting off an alarm or being detected. After all this is Ghost Recon and you are supposed to act like, well, a ghost. If, for example, there are four enemies standing between you and your objective then you can mark all four to set up your sync shot. You’ll be able to tell how many enemies you have marked by greyed out numbers on the screen. Once everyone has their target in sight the numbers will turn blue and as soon as you fire your AI comrades will fire as well allowing you to instantly eliminate those four enemy combatants. Now I should say that you don’t need the drone to mark an enemy. You can do it by simply aiming at them like you usually do and hit the right bumper as opposed to the right trigger. If there are only two enemies there and the AI has both of them lined up then you can simply hold down the right bumper to order them to shoot. The sync shot introduces some strategy into the game as there will be many encounters where you might come across an area with more than four enemies. In that case you need to study enemy patterns and determine the order in which you eliminate them so that you don’t get detected. If you are going through the game with friends communication will be key so that no one fires too early. It is a great mechanic and one that I enjoyed utilizing numerous times throughout the campaign.
Other futuristic “toys” that you will get to utilize are magnetic goggles, night vision goggles, sensor grenades and more. The magnetic goggles are amazing as they allow you to see where the enemy is even when they are in hiding. They also have some added benefits that I will let you figure out for yourself. Night vision goggles should be pretty self-explanatory however the sensor grenades, used effectively, can really help you out as well. By throwing out a sensor grenade it will “sense” how many enemies are in the immediate vicinity and highlight them so that you know their location. Much like any other weapon that you have you only have a limited number of these to use until you can get more ammo so be sure to use these sparingly. There will be some instances throughout the campaign where you need some additional help and utilizing the following methods will be just as fun. During one of the levels you are in the middle of a storm and you will gain access to something called a “warhound”. This is a mech that you can control that will allow you to lay waste to any enemies that you see on the way to your objective. Not only does it take out enemy combatants but it will also eliminate their vehicles as well which makes this “warhound” indispensable in certain situations. There are other instances where you have to defend a position and once you get to a certain point you will gain access to air support and can watch with sadistic glee as a helicopter swoops in and deftly takes out any enemies in the area. It is changing tactics like these that helped move the campaign along for me as it wasn’t always a “wash, rinse, repeat” scenario and I appreciated that.
The story for Ghost Recon Future Soldier is a bit all over the place and if you are a fan of the shooter genre in general you will definitely be able to tell which franchises influenced the development team. There is a time where I have to get on the ground and try to stay prone as a convoy of enemy vehicles drives by which reminds me of that famous scene in the original Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare title. The banter between your squad as you are going through the missions is reminiscent of the chatter you heard between squad mates in the Battlefield: Bad Company titles. The storyline itself has to do with weapons and a group trying to seize power in Russia and other places. Now that is an over simplification of the story, however, I want to be sure not to spoil any details for those people who care about the story in their games.
Going through the campaign, as well as the other modes, there were a few issues that popped up. It didn’t happen a lot but there were a few instances where it seemed like the frame rate would drop during intense action. It was only a momentary thing but I did notice a stutter once in a while. Additionally the AI in this game is great for the most part, however, there were a few instances where they seemed to get “stuck”. What I mean is that my buddy and I got in to our positions to breach a room, however, our AI comrades never showed up. Once we were in our positions we were locked into those positions so we couldn’t backtrack to see what was going on. At that point the only thing we could do is restart from the last check point. Fortunately the check point system in Future Soldier works pretty well so it didn’t send us too far back but it sure was annoying during the few times that happened. Another instance that really annoyed me was how the co-op was handled. The co-op itself works really well, however, only the host gets the saved progress. In other words if I invite you to a co-op session and we go through the first five missions of the game then that progress is only saved on my system since I was the host. If you want to go back and do mission six by yourself you won’t be able to do so. This is a huge mistake by the development team and I don’t know if it was simply an oversight or they didn’t really know how co-op is supposed to work. Or maybe it was a specific design decision to do that in which case that was a really bad decision. When someone is playing your game regardless of whether it is online or off you don’t want to punish them for doing so. Theoretically you want them to have fun playing the game and come back to keep playing it and not feel like they just wasted a big chunk of time with nothing to show for it. It should also be noted that if you want to go through a mission with some friends that you need to make sure everyone has joined your party before you begin the mission. There is no “drop in, drop out” co-op here so be sure to keep that in mind.
The multiplayer side of Ghost Recon Future Soldier offers four different game types for you to select from. There is Conflict, Decoy, Saboteur and Siege. Conflict is where the objectives are randomly located and you get team points by completing these objectives. In Decoy the attacking team will have three objectives, one “key” and two decoy traps. Completing the “key” objective will reveal the final objective in the round. If you are on the attacking side you win the round by completing the final objective and the defending side will win the round by stopping the attackers. In Saboteur there is a bomb located somewhere and the team to detonate the bomb in the enemy base wins. Siege doesn’t allow any respawns so you are pretty much one and done here. You win this round by completing the objective or completely eliminating the other team. I had a lot of fun playing each of these modes however I seemed to have the most luck with Saboteur for some reason. Perhaps it was just because of the team I was on but that seemed to be the winner for me.
If adversarial multiplayer isn’t your thing then there is also Guerrilla mode. Guerrilla mode is essentially their version of the now famous “horde” mode. There are fifty waves of enemies to eliminate and each one is progressively harder than the last. There are some new tricks for this version though as you can use some of the “toys” from the game such as your active camo. There were some waves where I could sneak around and get a stealth kill on the majority of the enemies effectively eliminating the opposition without them even knowing I was there. Then of course other waves had different objectives such as defending the HQ. It was a bit of a refreshing take on the “horde” mode concept and one I really enjoyed experiencing with friends.
Finally the Xbox 360 version does feature Kinect support. Kinect can be used within Gunsmith to look at your weapon, take it apart, use at the firing range and things of that nature. It seemed to work fairly well but it wasn’t anything amazing. You don’t use it in the campaign at all and most people will probably just use it once to say they did it and then move on. If you have a Kinect but don’t want to deal with it at all there is an option in the game to simply turn the Kinect functionality off.
I have had a lot of fun playing Ghost Recon Future Soldier. The game has some features I really enjoy and other items that annoyed me. When I really stop and think about it though those complaints that I mentioned above didn’t really hinder my experience and I have enjoyed my time with this game. In fact I am going through the campaign a second time with a different group of friends. If you are looking for a fun third person cover shooter then be sure to give this game a try. If you don’t happen to enjoy those games then this won’t be the title that converts you. Ghost Recon Future Soldier has some great concepts and I really enjoyed some of the weapons and “toys” that I was able to use. The Ghost Recon series has changed over the years and if you are fan of what Ghost Recon used to be then this isn’t the game for you. For others you’ll find a fun shooter that you can enjoy with friends.
- Four player campaign co-op
- Fun multiplayer modes
- Only the host's progress is saved in co-op
A fun military shooter set
in the future
- Format: Xbox 360,
- Kinect Support: Yes,
- Release Date: May 22, 2012,
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier – Review,