Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Future Soldier
Game play - 7
Presentation - 6
Story / Creativity - 6.5
Lifespan - 7
Ultimately Ghost Recon Future Soldier suffers from a case of double-edged sword syndrome. On the one hand you have the incredibly lacking single player campaign which in no way holds a candle to its predecessors but on the other you have an incredibly engaging multiplayer that deserves a large amount of your time.
As you know games trailers are made to excite us for some kind of upcoming gaming spectacle and Ghost Recon Future Soldier was for me on of those potential games.
At some point in your life you have seen a game trailer and said to yourself “Man now that was cool!” May it be the explosive battles that promised to pit you in impossible odds only for you to come out in a blaze of glory and walk away into the sun set. You have then waited patiently for that very game you preordered to slip through your post box and as you nod in excitement while ripping the packaging off, you think of the foes you will bring to justice and citizens you will save as you pop the fresh disc into your console of choice.
What follows would then consist of you playing in bewilderment as you traverse through a game that suddenly became so different from what the initial trailer got you excited for in the first place. Sadly Future Soldier does just that.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Future Soldier shows the never ageing Ghost team hit back against the world of global terrorism once again as they travel to various locations like Nigeria, Pakistan, Norway, and even Russia in an attempt to save the world for impending terrorist wrath and make it back just in time for tea.
The game starts off pretty straight forward as a U.S. Special Forces team ambushes a convoy carrying what claims to be nuclear weapons. What leads is an anti-climactic event where the said team fails and thus the Ghosts are called in to finish the job. The problem is that at no point in this entire opening sequence has there been a pop or bang to make you one bit interested, or even care that these men are doing what they are about to do.
As you go through the first level you are introduced to a variety of interesting game mechanics, such the ability to mark a number of enemy targets and perform a ‘coordinated kill’ with your band of geared up soldiers. This initial introduction was a cool concept and I couldn’t wait to perform it again on my next group of unsuspecting victims. My anticipation ultimately became a curse though as I realised I was playing the same scenario over and over again.
This process can be written out in a very simple bullet point list:
Crouch and cloak
Turn on thermal vision
Press action button
Rinse, repeat and sigh in disappointment
Not only do you do this in every mission but you ultimately never gain a feeling of satisfaction from it either. Games are meant to entertain us and Ghost Recon Future Soldier only leaves you feeling like you checked off a job on a menial list of chores. It would probably help if the enemy AI were at all aware of your existence at times and not just standing around in rage inducing bewilderment as your character stands in broad daylight aiming at their shiny coconut of a head. This is probably worsened with the fact that your team can go invisible through the use of optic camouflage. Gone have the days where soldiers would paint their faces the colour of leaves and instead we have soulless tin men jogging across the battlefield in something that can only be classed as cheating.
The AI is even worse within your own team at times that I would just force them to aim at enemies while I did the job all by myself. At some points I would enter a position undetected, mark my targets and then shake my head going “No! Where are you going?!” my sniper roadie ran his giddy little self across the field and into enemy territory just to see what I was aiming at.
Luckily things can be mixed up a little with end level escort scenarios which forces you to play a session of on-rails shooting while the rest of your team look around as if they just entered a tropical alien planet. It is funny as I remember talking to a friend about these sections in one of the original trailers and we would plan out in delight and excitement about who would escort the hostage and who would cover them. You can probably guess the looks on our faces after we realised that all the planning was for nothing.
Other parts of the game consist of even more on-rail sections in the gunner seat of a black hawk chopper and or in an APC. Ubisoft tried to add a futuristic twist with the inclusion of the short lived implementation of a mechanized robot but other games have been able to present a much better function with armoured AI companions.
Visually Future Soldier is a dated look into the past of what the previous Ghost Recon games such as Advanced Warfighter used to look like. The Ghosts look especially disappointing with their blurry textured uniforms and unusual cardboard heads that look slightly in pain when trying to perform facial expressions.
Something that would constantly bug me was seeing the main character John Kozak’s giant melon forehead in the brief cutscenes between missions. It actually reminded me of an old MTV cartoon created by Eric Fogel. If you don’t remember it, here is a link.
Environments don’t get much better either with buildings and vegetation suffering from washed out colours and a feeling that someone built the surrounding areas out of cardboard boxes and cheap coats of paint.
The sound design suffers a lot too with weapons in the automatic fire variety sounding like spud guns being skim fired across a pond and voice actors who come across as not really wanting to take part. This is surprising too especially with the presence of the talented Steve Blum who puts a not so stellar performance as series regular ‘Major Scott Mitchell’.
This isn’t to say that Ghost Recon Future Soldier doesn’t have something good to offer though.
One thing you can count on is the surprisingly addictive multiplayer that sees you team up with five fellow players as you take on bands of opposing players in objective based matches such as planting bombs in Saboteur or fighting to stay alive in one life allowed camp fests in Siege.
Customization also plays a big part in multiplayer with the ability to pick from fairly samey classes which allow the use of different weapons and abilities to help benefit your team within matches. The classes do suffer from a slight imbalance though with the Scout class possessing the ability to use Ghost team’s cloaking technology while the Engineer class suffers from having basically no benefits whatsoever apart from the ability to hack enemies you stun faster, but the rarity in actually getting to sneak up on players is something that becomes a trudge of pointlessness because of the fact enemy players can generally always see you through walls as a highlighted red silhouette.
This is a small gripe though which didn’t stop me from sinking in a good full week into the multiplayer portion of the game. To be honest I’m shocked they didn’t just scrap the single player and go multiplayer only as the overall package can offer a lot more excitement over the campaign story.
You will ultimately find yourself burning away the hours in this promising component that easily makes up for the drowning downer that is the single player campaign.