- Posted: 4:08 PM, August 13, 2012
While I’d played many other Tom Clancy games from Ubisoft, I had never played a Ghost Recon one. Deciding to pick it up not long after some recent DLC came out was an incredibly welcome surprise. In short: it’s one of the best shooters I’ve played all year.
Bear in mind: I didn’t actually touch the DLC. As I’ve said in interviews with developers in this publication, multiplayer barely interests me. And while this game isn’t designed to have the single player depth of a Mass Effect game, it’s incredibly dynamic, surprising and enjoyable—possibly equal to or better than some of the most recent Call of Duty entries.
The plot is held up together with scant ideas—revenge for fallen comrades and a desire to restore order to Russia sometime in the near, but not too distant future, are the two main driving ones. The cut-scenes attempt to show the four members of your Ghost squad (including yourself) bonding, but aside from a few asides like your leader wishing his son a happy birthday over a cell phone, you don’t really know these people. Then again… they are ghosts…
Putting all that aside though, no two missions are alike in Ghost Recon. You’ll need to rescue VIPs and protect them from incoming fire, move stealthily without raising an alarm (one time even by yourself) and even man turrets in a helicopter. It’s always changing, as is the equipment you get to use. (I’ll get to that in a second.) The locales are all also different, taking you from freezing snowcapped wastelands to houses in remote forests.
Some of my favorite moments included the aforementioned escorting VIP missions. The game actually puts you “on rails” with a decidedly less powerful weapon, but the moments are thrilling and exhilarating, especially in the very last sequence of the game.
My favorite moment, however, takes place on an airport runway. And that’s all I’ll say about that to let you discover it for yourself.
The weapons and other equipment you have are near future tech. You and your squad have optical camo that works when you’re still or moving slowly, but if you’re close enough to an enemy, they will see you. My favorite equipment, however, was the warhound and the drone.
The warhound is an armored tank on two legs with an endless supply of missiles and mortars. But you had to be close enough to control it, and if you weren’t in cover, while you were busy controlling the warhound, you could easily get picked off by an enemy. Alas, you only get it for one mission.
The drone, meanwhile, can either be used on the ground to send out a sonic pulse to disable a console, or, as I tended to use throughout the game, as something you flew overhead to see where the enemies are. It enabled you to plan a route or even mark targets for execution by your other three teammates.
Speaking of your teammates, the AI in this game is phenomenal. They were capable shooters, and I rarely had to rescue them. (They, however, had to come rescue me after I was shot down many, MANY times.) The enemy AI was also very competent and knew how to flank and stay behind cover. It presented a challenge, but never an annoying one.
You can play the game with full co-op functionality for those three squadmates, but I was happy with the AI doing it for me.
Future Soldier wasn’t a game I was expecting to even play, let alone like—but I wound up loving it. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, out in November, also has a setting in the near future, but it has a lot to prove going up against this game’s single player—it’s simply one of the best campaigns (lame story aside) I’ve played this year. There’s new DLC out, so there’s plenty of time for you to squad up…
Final Grade: A-
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is rated 'M' for Mature and is available for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.