Ghost Recon: Future Soldier Preview
I am always sceptical when a new shooter comes onto the scene, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s through no fault of my own. First Person Shooters have come bursting onto through the gaming scene as of late, bringing with them an audience that claim the latest CoD is the greatest thing to grace our consoles.
And that’s because those games very rarely create a sense of community, or a feeling of belonging that a good MMO or multiplayer platformer does. In a FPS title your team is expendable, or worse still will insufferably baby you through levels, online modes promote run and gun solo gameplay, no matter how many people you’re teamed with.
With Future Soldier, we have one of those rare moments where a game – or more specifically a development team – has put its foot down. Ubisoft has recognised this flaw and said ‘No!’ They have twisted the genre to change the solo mentality it sells.
From the get go, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is about trusting your team and playing a core role in a squad. You won’t get very far in Future Soldier if you decide to use your run and gun method; your team mates are key to survival.
Which is fine when playing with an intelligent human friend, right? But we’ve all seen the appalling AI in past video games. The team-mate in Army of Two that would be more interested in that brick wall way over there than helping eliminate the twenty enemies aiming their guns at your arse. However it seems that guy didn’t make it into the Ghost Recon squad.
No, Future Soldier’s AI is really something to bask in. Your team-mates won’t stand in the middle of bullet fire or forget where that pesky revive needle has gotten to. They’ll be efficient, sharp and on the ball, regularly spotting things you miss, or rushing to your aid. However in return, they require your help.
With a quick tagging system you can tell team mates what enemies to take out. While this is handy mid combat, where a team-mate is in a better position to take out the turret raining bullets onto you, it’s also perfect to tag a bunch of enemies before engaging them and either avoid a potential shoot up, or drastically change the tides before hand.
Teamwork to the max; you can also tag fellow endangered team-mates, and the remaining members will do their best to revive/aid the selected comrade. Whilst I didn’t see an option to tell them to take cover, the AI position themselves in the most optimum positions and are flawless during stealth missions.
Along with the impressive AI is a string of interesting gadgets, aptly designed to enhance this team-play mindset, including my favourite: Intel grenades. Lob one of these bad boys into a crowd and upon digitally exploding, it will tell you who is a threat and who is a civilian, without raising any sort of alarm. Whilst a quick scan of the area usually does the trick, this helps quickly identify soldiers to tag and take down.
We’re also given drones, which act very similarly to the Recon Drones in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 online, allowing you to tag several enemies from a safe distance and then command team mates to take them out.
Also included is a cover charge (similar to the system from the Gears of War series) in which your character charges from one point of safety to another, allowing for quick cover swaps for maximum stealth and protection. It also provides the only method of swapping cover without deactivating your camo shield.
The aiming of where you’re cover charging to seems incredibly quick to punish. A slight margin of error sent my soldier charging straight into enemy view, or directly into an oncoming threat. In one mission, I had the ultimate joy of having to take down a tank. When charging to a spot that held tank destroying turrets, I found myself standing face-to-turret with said war machine. Within seconds my body had been pierced to an unrevivable extent, before adding insult to injury by running me over.
Ubisoft told us that there are a few bugs still in the game and glitches we’d probably encounter and that the day was just about showing the game off, rather than having a perfect build. However, there were noticeable and frequent framerate drops which I’m sure will be fixed by actual release.
But despite the glitches (one of which included my character jumping through a wall and having him wade waist deep through the floor) the games main attributes pulled through in the demos. Ubisoft’s aim of creating a team based First Person Shooter where co-op is an actual element rather than an added afterthought shows.
The love for the genre is apparent through the game, and learning that since the beginning of Future Soldier’s journey there have been four special forces troops on board, showing the development team how a squadron acts on the battlefield, recreating scenario’s to bring a level of reality to the designers, really shows in the demo alone; how the squad act as a real, genuine team rather then a bravado, Hollywood laden testosterone-athon.
Future Soldier is looking to be a solid FPS that could define the genre. Along with the hard hitting blockbuster titles that are ready to lead 2012 on a gaming revolution, it could find itself a nice little niche to fill. With the dust finally settling on the Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3 war, there’s plenty of room for Ghost Recon to take the stage.
There’s no doubt that this game will raise the bar. Let’s just hope it lives up to the high expectations.
Ghost Recon Future Soldier is set for a May 25th release date on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, with a PC release to follow at a later date.