Ghost-Recon:-Future-Soldier---Xbox-360-Review Ghost Recon: Future Soldier - Xbox 360 Review

   22/05/2012 at 22:44       Richard Horne       9 COMMENTS. - Score 4/5
 - Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, Tom Clancy, Ubisoft, Third Person Shooter , Online Multiplayer

In a world where the sweat-drenched jingoism of the Call of Duty, Gears of War and Battlefield franchises reign supreme, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier's relatively po-faced sobriety actually makes for quite a refreshing change. With not a single dudebro, bromance, brodeo or broner in sight, Ubisoft's latest iteration in this popular series, instead, largely plays to the franchise's strengths focusing on intense, strategic, calculated firefights, while occasionally stealing the occasional trope from the previously aforementioned.

In fact, during its first few chapters, Future Soldier actually feels like the antithesis to Activision's trillion-selling behemoth. Charging all guns blazing into a firefight is not a strategy that will get you very far. In fact, having played so much Call of Duty of late, having to actually stop and take stock of my surroundings, prioritise targets and generally just engage my brain instead of holding down the right trigger as I embark on yet another kamikaze death-sprint. felt hugely satisfying and rewarding in a way I've not felt from a third or first person shooter in a long, long time.

Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, then, is part GRAW, part Full Spectrum Warrior, part Metal Gear Solid, part Gears of War, finished with just a smidge of Call of Duty. The reason it draws so many comparison is because it brazenly begs steals and borrows from just about every first and third person shooter in recent years. To give you some examples, holding down A initiates a haunched sprint not too dis-similar to Gears' Roadie Run, while the conveniently-placed concrete slabs behind which you take cover also invoke Epic's fantastical trilogy. The active camouflage highlights Ubisoft ably taking a leaf out of Konami's book on Metal Gear Solid. And finally, there are, of course, the obligatory Call of Duty-inspired on-rails chopper and jeep gunner levels. 

But when Future Soldier isn't borrowing from other series, luckily for you it does have a few unique tricks of its own up its sleeve. First off the hugely satisfying synchronised sniping mechanic. Similarly to the wonderful Full Spectrum Warrior, you make up one part of the four members of Ghost Squad. Using the right bumper it's possible to mark up to four targets, and once all members of your squad have lined up their designated targets, holding down the bumper triggers a simultaneous four way gangfuck. In single player with the AI controlling your cohorts this is pretty easy to co-ordinate, but online, with up to four human players in co-op, it'll take that little bit of extra co-ordinating but be that bit more rewarding as a result.

Deciding when to use synchronised sniping is also a key part of the game's level design. Often you'll be presented with a scenario where you actually have six to eight targets to take out and have to do so without triggering any alerts - annoyingly, alerts often trigger instant failure, but it is a mechanic that ramps up the tension, considerably. Shooting just four of your targets increases the chances of the enemy finding a dead body and therefore triggering the alarm. Instead, what you'll have to do is isolate lone-riflemen and snipers and pick them off one at a time until you're left with just four to take out with the help of your squad mates. You're also encouraged to take targets out under the cover of low flying, or even, on one level in particular, landing aircraft There's a considered and stealthy approach to each of the game's level and you're actually rewarded post-completion with a ghost score that takes into account just how tactical and subtle you actually were.

Similarly to previous Ghost Recon games there's also a strong emphasis on using your future weaponry. The UAV drone in particular becomes invaluable as it allows you to discreetly fly it over a kill zone and scan for enemy combatants, highlighting their location and thus allowing you to carefully pick your way through the game's many varied and well-designed locales. Locales which range from frozen tundras, to jungle wastelands, war-torn urban areas and ramshackle shanty towns. Future Soldier also rather lazily relies perhaps too much on the UAV's gimmicky ability to land and then drive off-road in order to deliver an electronic pulse. An ability that is required to solve a few simplistic in-game puzzles.

And while at first glance the active-camo, which renders you almost invisible, seems perhaps a little too effective, its limited use - it's only activated when you're crouched, prone or in cover and is disabled when you start shooting - means rather than steam in all guns blazing, you will occasionally have to stop and plan your next move. 

While the single player experience is generally well delivered and ticks all the right proverbial boxes, it's in co-op where the game really shines allowing drop-in, drop-out play for up to four players. And with the addition of a fully-fleshed-out multiplayer game as well as a Modern Warfare 3-esque survival mode called Guerrilla, there's more than enough to tide you over until the release of Black Ops 2. A game which Ubisoft has probably managed to steal a march on, as it too places a strong emphasis on the future and the implications of a digital war.

As ever with these types of games, the plot is fairly frivolous and second to the action, and you'll soon glaze over as yet again you're subjected to wonderfully design and animated, but ultimately boring topographical explanations of they game's key plot points. But aside from something of a mis-step with its own "No Russian" section, it's the usual dry fare we've come to expect from the Tom Clancy brand

Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, then, is very much a return to form. It's oft-delayed release means it actually launches at the perfect time, because Max Payne 3 and Diablo 3 aside, there's not much else imminent on the horizon, and certainly nothing in the same vein. If you like your shooters slow, steady and patient then Future Soldier is a dream come true and with plenty of multiplayer options there's plenty to get your teeth stuck in. Just don't go throwing grenades at your team-mates' feet.


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