This could be one of the more challenging reviews I have written to date. GRFS is a long awaited game for the Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon series – it has been eleven years since the first game, and five years since Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 – so essentially it should appeal to veterans of the game series or be a refreshing change for newcomers. This is about tactical warfare, and as far as current shooters are concerned, Ghost Recon Future Soldier is doing things a bit different.
My First Impressions:
For me, it was as though GRAW2 had grown up and moved out of home; It lived with some friends called Gears of War and Medal of Honor and was under the influence.
…..Yeah, that is probably the best analogy I have for the game right now. Essentially, we are looking at a game that is Ghost Recon, which similarly plays like Gears of War (3rd person, running into cover, camera-rumble when running, etc.) and sounds as luscious, if not more, as Medal of Honor -come on, at least if you didn’t like playing it, you can at least admit is sounded beautiful. /end bias
Booting the game for the first time and seeing the wonderful environments has the ‘wow’ factor. Unfortunately, the motion scan technology used in L.A. Noire has spoiled me for games that feature any character dialogue, they all look like sock puppets to me, but that is not the fault of the game.
As mentioned, the sound is wonderful. Even just sitting in the main menu and hearing the distant bullet peppering sound is a real treat. This would have to be one of the best examples of sound engineering I’ve heard in a game in a long time. It sounded like Trent Reznor was on board, but really, it was still at the hands of Tom Salta, who has composed the previous Ghost Recon games, as well as Prince of Persia: Forgotten Sands. I absolutely love the way GRFS sounds and the louder the better.
Oh, yeah, I got to hear a bit of Pantera – I don’t think I’ve heard that in a game anywhere other than Guitar Hero/Rock Band.
For the purpose of the review I played on Rookie difficulty, single player – because it wasn’t in stores in Australia by this point, and I couldn’t co-op the campaign. Unlike GRAW2, GRFS does not utilise squad commands <insert sigh of relief>. Don’t get me wrong, I love tactical gameplay, but I found I was either commanding my squad to get killed or the game glitching the AI not to move, a few gripes I think many people found at the time, and not foreign to other games under the Tom Clancy banner. So there’s less of a challenge in that respect which may or may not be favourable, depending on how you liked to play previous games. I however liked not having to command the squad and the AI in charge of itself isn’t useless either, as I was mostly trailing behind when my squad moved ahead on its own and ended up waiting for me. Sorry, folks! Allowing 4-player co-op is also a delicious aspect, if that’s your thing.
Playing through the first level was a good tutorial-type introduction to the game showing the controls and functions as you go along, rather than completing a specific tutorial mission.
Firstly, I am very excited to say that there is NO TEAM DEATHMATCH. All game modes will require teamwork and tactical strategies to succeed, for example, do not go out running and gunning- I did on my first play – it does not work to your advantage.
Secondly, the MP maps are nicely designed with sufficient cover and are usually multileveled. Some maps will have environmental elements that will obscure your visibility (e.g., One map, funnily enough called Sand Storm, has sand blowing all over the place), so tactical resources are vital and must be used with common sense. Remember that whatever class/loadouts you’re using, the enemy team will have this too; it won’t be like Call of Duty where you can choose up to 3 perks or choose from a large list of weapons.
In addition, this would have to be one of the few games that did not have excessive server meltdowns at release. So far, no MP games have crashed, nor have I waited a long time in a lobby for a game to start, so the matchmaking goes very well. Still, it was concerning to find people not using microphones, again this was not the fault of the game – plug in your microphones, people! My favourite game game-type is Decoy, which has three rounds commencing with 3 neutral objectives. There is no choice of hardcore/core, but enemies will drop when shot which is nice. When being suppressed, the camera will shake adding to a nice MP experience.
- Weapon customisation: Not only will you be able to put the right specs on your loadout, you will also go to the firing range to test out your new weapon assembly. Consequently, you do not need to boot the game to test out the weapon to find out how it is as in every other MP military game. Detailed weapon statistics are also provided.
- With Kinect, voice commands are available as well as being able to direct with your controller. It is a nice feature, but not essential or a superior gaming experience to that of Playstation or PC.
- The menu is sleek, simple and easy to navigate.
- The loading times in the campaign are a bit slow, even with the disc installed, but it is manageable.
- Probably features more cutscenes than I would like to see in a game, and these cannot be skipped through. The first half an hour was mostly watching the opening cutscene rather than playing.
- Checkpoint locations are regular but I would have liked them to trigger more frequently, especially with the cutscene issues I had. One checkpoint was before a cutscene that I was forced to watch again, which was a little annoying.
Ghost Recon Future soldier was a game that I knew I wanted to play. I enjoy both fast paced shooters and slower ones with varying emphasis on tactics. GRFS sits in a nice place in-between, slowing things down with cover while not getting bogged down in commanding a squad. Fans of the Tom Clancy series will most likely enjoy it (I can’t speak for every fan) as well as others looking for something different in a tactical warfare environment. The controls are easy enough to get used to as well, and are great in multiplayer.
I find the game hard to fault at the best of times, especially with the stability of the MP servers at launch. Playing with friends will certainly be an advantage in campaign/MP, and is sure to be an enjoyable experience. Admittedly not everything in the game is mentioned here, because I think if it intrigues you enough, then you need to find it for yourself and relish in the delight of a newly released game that stands a little different from the others right now.