Are you tired of these mindless shooters where everything boils down to playing an advanced version of connect the dots (bullets and heads) and you can run into an entire storm of molten lead without a second thought? Yes? Good! I’ve got just the game for you, and it is Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Future Soldier.
There’s a massive over-saturation of the shooter market these days, and every now and then something comes along that isn’t afraid of the conventions that have now been established, and does its own thing instead of trying to emulate Call of Duty or Halo to the highest degree possible. Yes your health regenerates, and yes there are a few big explosions, but this is a game that is completely grounded and realistic. I was playing it with some friends over and all they could say were a combination of one of three things: “This game is f****** beautiful!”; “Do you think this sort of thing really exists?”; and “HOLY S***!” Needless to say, it was a crowd pleaser, and indeed the game does look absolutely beautiful. Most of the time. On to the actual review.
When playing Future Soldier, you are given ample opportunity to experiment. There are upwards of 10,000 weapon variations, where you can alter essentially every critical component of your gun from the scope, trigger, stock, railing, muzzle, etc. There’s also all sorts of grenades, secondary weapons, and some equipment. You can go through a mission with an LMG, frags, and go balls-to-the-wall as your enemies get shredded apart. This does mean you won’t have much in the way of stealth, though, and unless you have a PDR or shotgun as your secondary, you’re going to want to keep some distance. Or, you could go into battle with a silenced sniper rifle, sensor grenades to detect enemy locations, and a submachine gun while fully utilizing your adaptive camo (a great new feature). This was personally my favorite combination, as I had every range covered, and could always keep on top of my enemies with my superior intel. What I’m saying is that you can play this game how you wish. It’s almost like an RPG, but instead of leveling up, you get new, superior gun parts. It’s a very deep, very inventive, and very refreshing system.
The campaign took me 11 hours, roughly, and for a game with a full-fledged multiplayer and Horde-like “Guerrilla” mode, you’ve got a hefty package that comes out to be well worth the $60. Although it isn’t on par with the epic campaigns of Skyrim or Dark Souls, it’s one of the best ones for a shooter I’ve played in quite awhile, and I was not bored one single time. The designers really know how to pace a game, because Future Soldier is ridiculously well-paced. I was never thrown into an absurdly unfair situation that I didn’t previously learn how to handle in part: the game builds upon itself over and over up until the very final few minutes of the game. Future Soldier is a constant learning experience, and I loved being tossed into rough situation with nothing but my wits and weapons about me. I’m honestly just so pleased that the game required me to think, for that is something sadly lacking in today’s market (and indeed all of the entertainment industry).
Multiplayer is also very fun. It won’t take over the online gaming populations by any measure, but it’s definitely worth a few games to try out, and you may be hooked. Sniping is especially rewarding. The Guerrilla mode is a nice addition that doesn’t take away from the package, but is the least impressive of the three components by far. Co-op Campaign is something you must try if you can assemble enough friends. Alone, your AI squadmates are actually very reliable and intelligent (they put essentially every other partner AI from past shooters to shame (damn you Arbiter and Dom!)) and can take care of themselves. However, human beings are not always this way, and playing on co-op makes for a substantially different experience that can some times be incredibly fun.
Not all is so great with this game, however, The graphics, though mostly stellar, have awkward moments of looking rather drab and unimpressive. It doesn’t make sense, and is inconsistent, which makes it stand out even more. Some times your jaw is on the floor, but then you see a man’s face or some muddy textures, and the illusion is ruined. The cutscenes really should have looked better, too. Later in the game (not a spoiler) clips from a European made-up news organization are shown and the lip-synching is utterly atrocious. Seriously. Also, the final mission was a bit buggy compared to the rest of the game, and the ending itself is a bit cliche, but appropriate and mostly satisfying.
Overall, Future Soldier is an incredible game with just a few hitches keeping it from being something truly outstanding. If you’re a bit worn-out with all the CoD and Halo these days, try something new. Future Soldier is new, and a great choice to try out. It made a fan out of me (Advanced Warfighter 1 and 2 were both great but I preferred Future Soldier but a sizable measure), and I know I can’t wait for the next installment.