Ghost Recon is back, people! Tom Clancy has finally broken his writer’s block and delivered the first new Ghost Recon console experience in five years. I kid, of course. We all know that Tom Clancy is no more than a name on these games. Fortunately, these games still deliver some of the best combat experiences available.
Like previous games in the series, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier focuses on a team of ghosts working together on various combat missions. Like Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter before it, the squads have to use a mixture of stealth and accuracy to take down the various enemy soldiers in their way. However, unlike GRAW, Future Soldier throws in a bit of action movie bravado for good measure. For me, this was a welcomed new addition.
The story this go-around has your team on the trail of a dirty bomb that killed a different squad of ghosts. You’ll follow breadcrumbs as they are spread across various international settings (except for Antarctica). Several differing plot devices come into play with the sole purpose of challenging your team to infiltrate, eliminate, defend, and escape. While Ghost Recon: Future Soldier isn’t creating anything new, what it delivers is one of the best combat shooters I’ve played in a long time.
There are several aspects of Future Soldier that had me on the edge of my seat. At the core of this great experience was a bombastic story. From start to finish I enjoyed each and every cut scene thoroughly. In the heart of the game there were scenes that are better crafted than some action movies. While some might complain that this game echoes some of the bromance action junk we get shoveled every year, I really enjoyed the time I spent watching this story unfold.
Along with the entertaining story, I had a blast mixing up the action and the stealth elements. I really despise most hardcore stealth games (Splinter Cell… ugh) and I appreciate Future Soldier’s varying gameplay. Most of the time, if you screw up your stealth sneaks you can enjoy a challenging but entertaining firefight. What makes the stealth in this game even more enjoyable is the optical camo you get to employ. Unlike stealth games that punish players for walking in the light, Future Soldier makes it very obvious when you are seen and when you are unseen. There’s no guessing about whether an enemy can see your shoelaces or not. You’re either camo or you aren’t. Actually knowing when you’re covered or not makes tactical gameplay that much more effective.
The other gameplay feature that I liked was marking targets for my teammates to take down. While the game can be played with excessive sneakiness mixed with hardcore action, it can also be played like a general planning out an elaborate war from above. I spend a lot of my time sneaking around in camo marking the enemies that needed to be eliminated and then calling my teammates to deliver the kill. There were some levels where my team would kill 30 enemy soldiers and I only took down one or two personally. For me, the act of delegating my kills to the AI was a blast to witness.
For the most part I didn’t have anything to complain about with Future Soldier. I did stumble on a situation where my AI teammates got stuck climbing a wall in a glitchy mess. But, I just changed my strategy and the AI worked its way to where I needed it to be. I also found a glitch where my AI teammate would crawl on his belly until he got stuck in a corner. I fully expect glitches like these will be patched soon, and in the long run they weren’t so bad that I lost any progress in my game.
I guess the only other topic worth covering is the game’s stunning graphics. Ghost Recon: Future Soldier has a wide array of different locations and they look gorgeous. I was consistently impressed by the graphics of this game and the design leaves all but the best in the dust. It’s pretty amazing how far we’ve come since the early days of the Xbox.
In the end, I had a ton of fun playing Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, despite some minor glitches. It delivers a powerful action/stealth experience that rivals the best games of the generation. Without a doubt, this is one of my Game of the Year candidates.
Full Disclosure: CraveOnline received 1 advanced copy of Ghost Recon: Future Soldier for the Xbox 360 from Ubisoft. Before starting our review, we played 100% of the main storyline.