Developer: Ubisoft Paris
Release Date: 6/26/2012
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Advanced Warfighter was one of the first games to really push the new next-gen consoles, but also evolve into the tiring Ghost Recon franchise. Future Soldier has huge boots to fill, and it does a good job by evolving the series even further. The game finds a balance between stealth and action, plus throws some cinematic scripted events in to keep things exciting.
The story is pretty much what you would expect from a Tom Clancy game. Full of politics and pretty dull. You are a team of four Ghosts who are helping the Russians put the “good” president back on the seat. There’s not much to it, and even the banter between the ghosts isn’t fleshed out as well as it could have been. You’re here for the action and Future Soldier delivers well. I was most impressed by the new recon elements. First off, you have camo that makes you practically invisible. This can only be used when standing a while and crouched or prone. Enemies can still spot you if you get too close, so this isn’t cheating per se. On top of this you get a nifty little drone that you can control in the air or turn into an RC car for ground recon (with a pulse blast!) In the air you can tag targets and figure out where the enemies are and study patrols without the frustrating trial and error of figuring it all out yourself on the ground. The drone is a lifesaver and one of the best gadgets ever implemented into a Ghost Recon title.
The coolest thing in the whole game are the sync shots. These allow you to tag up to four enemies and at the same time take them down quietly. This eliminates the frustration of having to take everyone down yourself or use useless commands. The friendly AI in this game is some of the best I have ever seen. You can tag enemies above in the drone and the ghosts will quietly move around and position themselves for the sync shots. The only problem is that if you do four tags you have to be the fourth.
Sync shots and active camo may be lifesavers for recon, but there is action thrown in. To prevent diving into action unwanted the game will tell you where enemies can see you, so you get a few seconds to find cover before getting discovered right away. However, the game some times forces engagement on you because enemies will be clumped to close together for stealth sync shots. This only leaves one option and that’s open firefights. You aren’t penalized for this at the end of missions because the game encourages sync shots and stealth kills.
I did find the campaign, toward the end, became repetitive and less exciting because there are less scripted events and more of just non-stop shooting. The difficulty spikes all over the place in these later levels leaving you to do many checkpoint restarts due to dying. Thankfully you can “die” three times and a team member will revive you. I just found the first half of the game was better designed and more exciting than the last half. There was less and less recon and more running and gunning which isn’t what Ghost Recon is famous for.
Besides these few complaints, I do have to say that being able to fully customize your guns is an awesome addition to the series. Instead of just choosing people and stock weapons you actually get to decide each part of the gun. Trigger, stock, magazine, side rail, under rail, paint, muzzle, gas system, barrel, everything. Most items are unlocked by completing challenges during missions. Other than this the only thing to go back for is multiplayer which is what Ghost Recon is famous for.
Multiplayer is pretty much like the campaign and just as fun as past GR games. There’s not much to really say except that GR multiplayer isn’t really for the typical Call of Duty fan. At least there’s co-op here for buddies to sit around and play which can actually make the game a lot easier and more fun. The visuals are amazing and the PC has extra detail thanks to DirectX 11 support so it looks way better than the console versions. There are tons of visual detail on the PC version, but you will need a really powerful rig (GPU no more than 2 years old, and a high-end dual-core or quad-core CPU for full detail).
Overall, Future Soldier was a long wait, but we get some great new ideas like the gadgets such as active camo and the drone. Sync shots are a life saver and there are some pretty awesome scripted moments in the game. The story is typical GR dullness, but we get a lengthy campaign with challenges to complete, and even fully customizable weapons. I highly recommend this to any GR fan or newcomers who love stealth action and shooters in general. Just expect some difficulty spikes towards the last half of the campaign.