Ghost Recon: Future Soldier review
At first glance the latest Ghost Recon appears similar to the veritable army of other gung-ho military shooters on offer. In fact it’s a game that owes far more to stealth-em-ups such as sibling Splinter Cell: Conviction. Ghost Recon: Future Soldier (GR: FS) is also one of the few games we’ve played that is built from the ground up for four player co-operative play, and yet still feels fun when taken on solo.
Rather than relentless Hollywood pacing, with the protagonists often thrown from one set-piece to the next, GR: FS breaks its narrative down into clearly-defined military missions. Each mission starts with intelligence briefings and the chance to pick your kit at leisure. Your four-man team is whisked from the middle east to the arctic and back again, all in pursuit of shady weapon dealers with terror in mind.
It all feels a little old-fashioned, but we guess it’s more realistic, with elite forces likely to be fully briefed the majority of the time, rather than reacting on the hoof to world-changing events. Whether you like this or not, the more individual nature of the missions is certainly a nod towards the multiplayer aspect of the game, as up to four players can take on any unlocked campaign mission as a team.
GUNS, GUNS, GUNS
Before you set out, though, you (and any comrades in arms) will have to tool up, with everyone carrying primary and secondary shooters. There’s a huge range of guns on offer in GR: FS, and they can all be tweaked to a far greater degree than the simple addition of attachments.
An assault rifle for instance can have around eight parts switched out. There’s the usual range of scopes of course, but then you get a choice of stocks, gas pressure systems, flash hiders and suppressors, magazine types, ammo, trigger sensitivities and firing modes. The same rifle could be set up for fast-firing, quick manoeuvring house clearance with one set of options; or it could be made slow, but accurate and deadly, for longer-range engagements.
At a touch of a button you can move straight from the gun design screen into a firing range, squeeze off a few rounds at a target, then pop back to the gun options to tweak some more. The game always gives you a pre-set gun suitable for the mission at hand, but it’s a testament to the flexibility of the gameplay that you can choose something completely different and still complete the task at hand with the right approach. The only proviso being that you'll usually need at least one silenced weapon.
While the armoury largely consists of recognisably contemporary firearms, the Future Soldier aspect of the title certainly comes into play in other areas. Every member of your team wears Predator-esque, adaptive-camouflage uniforms, which make them practically invisible to the enemy until they decide to open fire.
While your opponents find it hard to draw a bead on you, your men have fancy shades that help you know exact where to shoot. On an increasingly intelligence-led battlefield the Ghost’s kit is a military wet dream, anyone you can see you can tag, and their positios from then on is tracked. Knowledge is power as they say, and the Ghost’s key advantage lies in this maxim.
A range of additional kit feeds information into your heads-up-display. At first you get grenade-like motion sensors, which you can toss into the midst of your foes to add them immediately to your HUD. Later you get a small, flying drone which can be thrown up into the air at any time for a quick bit of remote-control reconnaissance.