Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier Hands-On Preview


Ubisoft stakes its Tom Clancy game prowess on authenticity. To set a military shooter in the future, then, cleverly disguises any implausibility with the fog of foresight. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier makes full use of this permission, taking the augmented reality visualizations from Splinter Cell: Conviction and applying them to the Ghost Recon framework. Oh, and there’s invisibility.

The fourth full-length installment in the Ghost Recon series, Future Soldier embraces its Clancy tradition and makes way for forward progress. The game follows the ghost squad on a globetrotting shadow war, like ninjas with guns. Levels follow traditional shooter form — go here, shoot them, get that, rinse, repeat. Blockbuster set pieces and on-rails story moments (think carrying a target while avoiding Hind missile fire) seat Future Soldier at the table with Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3, a dinner with multi-million dollar stakes (See: Steaks!). It’s not, though, where Future Soldier‘s heart lies.

There’s something intuitively satisfying about plastering a game world with interactive instructions. Each High Value Target (HVT) is so demarcated, and the shootout setting oil yard beams its title as brightly from a digital map as on its steel beams. It’s all part of the permeating Augmented Reality system that provides useful information like Weapons Augmented Reality (WAR), enemy and location data, objective markers, and equipment and squad statuses. It’s a bit overwhelming, and play can turn into data management in the heat of firefights — that is, for the straight-up, shoot-em-up gamer.

The overabundance of info crams players into corners only navigable with tactical options. It’s limiting, but shoehorns the average gunner into a quick strategist. This is the “Why?” behind Future Soldier. Take, for instance, the midday infiltration of an African village:

From the cover of swamp reeds, you notice two guards ambling along a nearby pier, as videogame guards are wont to obliviously do. You mark both targets for your squad, then take one out with a headshot. The other falls swiftly after. You hear a commotion nearby, and an enemy is indicated in yellow behind a fence — now you know he’s unaware. A stealth kill dispatches him and saves a pleading villager. Then comes the breach of a stilted wood house humming with voices. You activate Superman vision, seeing three enemies and your target seated in the adjacent room through the wall. Squad member A kicks the door; you rush in and floor the target while your team takes out the riff-raff.

Jump to an industrial compound shootout. You’re outnumbered and unable to move save rapid switches between destructible cover (also a la Conviction). You need to mark some targets, so you send out a camera drone, surveying the battle scene and placing little blue arrows over the combatants. Without much progress being made, you see the opportunity for a flanking maneuver. You pop a smoke grenade, hustle to a crate on the right and cloak, a faint ghost of yourself (like the game’s name, guys!) shimmering opaquely. You mark the targets from your new vantage point, undetected, and rain sweet bullet hell onto the battlefield. Think before you shoot: it’s more satisfying than you know.

Future Soldier may have all the trappings of a modern military shooter but it plays, for the better, like a sci-fi tactical shooter. There’s some story or other it seems, but the point is strategic combat customization. With over fifty guns and forty-nine components, it’s a sandbox shooter in the tradition of Crysis and FarCry. It’s authentic, though. Tom Clancy would never lie.



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Author: Dan Crabtree View all posts by
Dan is Managing Editor for GamerNode and a freelance gaming writer. His dog is pretty great. Check him out on Twitter @DanRCrabtree.

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