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Ghost Recon: Future Soldier Impressions
- Categorized in: Video Game News
Recently, Ubisoft held a multiplayer beta for Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier and invited a few lucky players to participate. I was, as you have probably surmised right now, one of those lucky players, and I'm here now to recount my experiences with the game.
Future Soldier probably seems like an unsure bet to a lot of gamers right now. Originally unveiled in early 2010, the game has since seen a multitude of changes. When at first the game drew critical ire for its strange new team features (anyone else remember that weird train move where your squad would all latch together?) it retreated back from the limelight for a while. After a few more years of development, the team at Ubisoft has come away from Future Soldier with a product that simply feels a lot more like a Ghost Recon game, albeit tweaked a bit to fit in with modern times.
Those tweaks include a nice new coat of paint, so to speak, as the graphics have been significantly overhauled from what we've seen in past Ghost Recon games. Everything from the character models down to the environments has a nice, clean look to it. That's not to say that this is a bright and colorful game; on the contrary, these characters and environments look like they've taken a beating. But from what I saw in the beta, the texturing and modeling work looked quite solid. The gritty textures are juxtaposed nicely against a sort of neon futuristic vibe. Holograms float around the barrel of your gun, allies are highlighted in green on your HUD, and enemies are highlighted in red when they are spotted. It's just science-fiction enough to stand out from the crowd.
A more significant update to the formula comes in the form of Challenges. You can browse the Challenges menu before a match. Different Challenges will say, for example, "Kill more than 1 enemy" or something of the sort. If you choose to accept a Challenge before the match begins, you will be rewarded with a nice XP bonus for completing it during the match. You will only have a limited time to accept each Challenge (it looked like around 24 hours in the beta) so in the final game you should be sure to constantly check the menu for more. It seems as if the Challenges system will be a good way to keep players on their toes during matches, if utilized correctly.
Of course, players should already be on their toes thanks to the array of different classes in Future Soldier. While there were only three different classes represented in the beta, each played drastically differently. First up was the Rifleman. This class represents your basic run-and-gun soldier. He carries assault rifles and light machineguns into battle, and wears heavier armor than some other classes. Playing as the Rifleman is a straightforward, tried-and-true shooter experience. On the other end of the spectrum is the Engineer. The Engineer is all about personal defense. He carries shotguns and other close-range weapons, and he has a multitude of gadgets to help him get out of a tough spot. The first of those is a Scope Detector that allows the Engineer to detect when an enemy has him in his sights. The second of these is a grenade that emits a sonic pulse, popping nearby enemies up on the radar for a while. The final class is the Scout. The sniper of the group, the Scout can actually turn invisible using a cloaking device, but only when he is completely motionless. One little movement or one shot of your rifle, and you'll be plain to see to the whole world. Naturally, the Scout specializes in rifles and submachine guns. The only frustrating thing about having multiple classes available to you is the fact that they all level up seperately. This means that you only gain experience towards the class that you have been playing as. With so much variety in each of the classes, it'd be nice if the game incentivized you to experiment more. Then again, this is only the beta, and the final game could be different.
With three highly unique classes all occupying the same battlefield, Future Soldier quickly develops a few extra layers of strategy. Assault players will want to avoid running and gunning sometimes, as the other classes have gadgets that can detect them easily. Scouts will want to pick and choose the timing of their shots with the utmost care. One wrong move, and your barely-armored body will be exposed. It's the little strategies like these that make the moment-to-moment play in Future Soldier a lot of fun.
That said, all of the strategy in the world would be useless without a foundation of solid gameplay to back it up. Like combat in Ghost Recon should be, the firefights are fast and brutal. One misplaced shot can be all it takes to lay you down. You will need to be accurate and decisive when you attack. Luckily, the shooting gameplay has been honed to a deadly point. The aiming feels great, and the recoil off of each of the weapons is unique and appropriate to the size of the gun you're holding. When you do mess up in a firefight, a "Casualty Assessment" (basically a kill-cam) will appear detailing your opponent's position, name, weapon, and health status when he killed you.
The core shooting is enhanced by the high-tech upgrades to your HUD. Spotting in Future Soldier is given new meaning by the neon highlights that appear over allies and enemies. In concept, whatever your teammates see, you should be able to pick up on your HUD as well in the form of a neon blip. It's a great way to encourage teamwork. Even when you and your allies aren't conciously working as a team, you can still obtain tactical information from each other just by looking around.
If the beta's handful of modes are any indication, tactics are going to be a big part of what makes Future Soldier work. The two modes in the beta were Conflict and Saboteur. Conflict is a hevily randomized mode in which your team's objectives will appear at random spots on the map. Both teams will fight over the objectives and, depending on what the objective is, it might grant the winning team some sort of bonus throughout the rest of the match. After that objective has been won, the game will move on to the next one until time is up. Whichever team has captured more objectives (or, in the case of a tie, whichever team worked together better) by the time the match is over is crowned the winner. The Saboteur mode, on the other hand, involves picking up a bomb and delivering it to the enemy base. Even as your team is trying to sabotage the enemy's base, they will be doing the same. This makes Saboteur an intriguing blend of attacking and defending.
With solid tech, wildly differentiated classes, and gameplay modes that fostered strategic play, Future Soldier's beta was promising indeed. It's safe to say that Ubisoft hasn't wasted the years since the game's original announcement. If the beta is any indication, Future Soldier could be the next great online shooter. Stay tuned to GameShampoo to find out more as the game nears its release later this month.