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Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier Review (PS3)

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating

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Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier

Image © Ubisoft
They never get the press of franchises like "Call of Duty" or "Battlefield" but one has to marvel at the longevity of the Tom Clancy line of games, including the "Rainbow Six," "Splinter Cell," and "Ghost Recon," series, three franchises that have spawned dozens of games overall for multiple consoles. The latest blend of stealth and combat is "Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier," released on May 22, 2012, and another accomplished entry that should appeal to fans of these titles but likely won't draw in those unfamiliar with their unique style of gameplay. This particular title focuses on futuristic combat, allowing the player a unique arsenal of war toys with which to play.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Ubisoft
  • Developer: Ubisoft Paris
  • ESRB Rating: M (Mature)
  • Genre: Futuristic Shooter
  • Pros: Awesome Technology, Exciting Missions, Strong Design
  • Cons: Frustrating Design, Occasional Glitches, Lackluster Storytelling

What will war look like in the future? "Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier" (the first game in this series since "Advanced Warfighter 2," five years ago) attempts to give players a vision of intense combat in a world where battle has truly changed by virtue of modern technology. Throughout a series of campaigns, the player gains access to a number of incredible devices like sensors that can track enemy locations, drones that can target people, metallic companions called War Hounds, and, coolest of all, cloaking devices that allow you to sneak up on your intended target. Without these futuristic toys of war, "Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier" would probably just be a subpar shooter but the variety injected into the mission structure by combat devices that other games don't employ helps keep the game fresh.

Gameplay

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier

Image © Ubisoft

You play a member of a Ghost Recon squad of four and the co-op nature of war will play a major role in your success or failure in "Future Soldier." Not only will you need your fellow soldiers to help you flank an enemy but you will often "spot" for them, targeting enemies for them to shoot, sometimes even in sync. Send up a drone, target four enemies, and shoot them simultaneously with the push of one button. Pretty cool. The teamwork aspect of "Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier" is one of its most engaging aspects in both single and multiplayer play.

As you travel the world trying to stop an international disaster, you'll employ a series of high-tech gadgets. It requires a different strategy than the "more is more" approach of "Call of Duty." In fact, the game is at its best when it relies on its stealth nature. When it tries to compete with the "Battlefield" and "CoD" franchises with big set pieces like machine gunning a convoy from a helicopter, it doesn't really feel like a Tom Clancy game. When you're slowly crawling through enemy territory, half-camoflaged, targeting enemies with a drone and taking them out in time with airplanes taking off so as not to raise an alarm -- that's a Tom Clancy game.

To that end, there are a few missions in "Ghost Recon: Future Soldier" that feel a bit narrow-minded in their design. It sometimes feels like there's only one path from checkpoint to checkpoint and it becomes a series of trial and error that can get frustrating. I wanted "Ghost Recon" to be a little more adaptable to my mistakes or my style of gameplay and less of a title where I felt like I needed merely to find the right path of cover or kill the enemies in the right order so as not to raise an alarm.

One of the saving graces of "Future Soldier" is a common failure of games like it -- the A.I. of your fellow soldiers. They will often flank and take out enemies on their own or move to you quickly when you're in medical need. It's incredibly refreshing to have ally A.I. this refined as even casual war game players have experienced titles where your fellow soldiers really feel like they're just there to get in your way.

As is standard with all modern war shooters, "Ghost Recon: Future Soldier" comes with a nice array of multiplayer options, most of which build off the co-op nature of the campaign. There are five game modes and all feel like they are organically part of the stealth-based experience as they award strategy over power. My favorite is a mode called Conflict, which features a rotating series of objectives on a large map. The map design is strong. As stealth games are not my strong suit, "TCGR: FS" is not my first choice for multiplayer but it's hard to find fault with its design, depth, or variety.

Graphics & Sound

Visually, "Ghost Recon: Future Soldier" is a mixed bag. Some of the backgrounds are unrefined but I did love the destructible cover and variety of locations. The character design is strong but the little things often seem a bit off like the weather that is more blinding than detailed (and just designed to get you to use your futuristic goggles) or grass that doesn't seem quite realistic. They got the big things right but missed a few of the details. Having said that, the audio is pretty spectacular as your allies shout out locations and the enemy comes barreling in. It's a game that works best turned up to eleven.

Bottom Line

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier

Image © Ubisoft
It's been five years since the last "Ghost Recon" game and the shooter market has essentially taken over the world of gaming. "Call of Duty" games are treated with more bombast than summer blockbusters and "Battlefield" fans go in country every night. How can the Tom Clancy games evolve and stay current in this environment? "Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier" isn't an impressive enough game to really push the franchise to the top of the market but it's well-made enough to illustrate why this franchise has lasted as long as it has and to give hope to its fans that it will continue to endure.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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