by Sergio Brinkhuis
previewed on PC
Russia, where else?
It has been a long time since I last played any tactical shooter. I am not sure why as I used to waste weeks of my life sneaking and sniping in illustrious games such as Delta Force and Ghost Recon. After seeing Ghost Recon: Future Soldier in action at Gamescom, Iím itching to to dust off my camo suit and dig up my eye black.
Ubisoftís presentation of Future Soldier was short, sweet and brimming with action. As the name implies, the game is set in the not too close future. A nationalist splinter group has already taken control of Russia and, intoxicated by its success, is now involved in the largest land grab since World War II. Huge parts of Asia, The Middle-East and Northern Europe have been overrun. Your four-man Ghost Squad is tasked to clear a landing zone for a US led convoy set to strike back at the advancing enemy. The squad consists of four members, each as deadly as the other and specialized in particular tasks. The four specialisms are Commando, Sniper, Reconnaissance and Engineer. To fulfill your missions, each member must survive.
The future setting allows the developers to toy around with various mechanics that would be impossible in a normal Ghost Recon game. Your squad, for instance, is equipped with an advanced stealth system that makes its wearer nearly invisible, though not continuously so. Stealth technology is rather power hungry, quickly draining its battery after which it takes some time before it can be used again.
Most of the game will be played out as a Third Person Tactical Shooter to give the player an optimum view and thus the best chances of spotting enemies. The game will automatically switch to First Person mode when you take cover or simply aim your gun at a target, increasing your accuracy greatly. Having seen the system in action, I donít think it will be difficult to get used to the switches, as it all plays out quite naturally.
Squad coordination is a big thing in any Ghost Recon game. During the presentation we saw the player receive instructions, but give them as well. One coordinated action involved killing a number of enemies guarding the main target. Suit switched on, the player sneaked up to the target and with three quick pushes of a button assigned targets to his squad. A blue line appeared, pointing at the heads of each of the three guards, indicating that a squad member had locked on to their targets. Upon execution, the guards sagged onto the ground, while the player overwhelmed the main target. In this example, none of the enemy had the ability to detect the cloaked members of the Ghost Recon squad, but we were assured that it wouldnít always be that easy.
The next scene, although it was scripted, really blew me away. The player was holed up in a building situated on a beach, looking out at what seemed to be an enemy resupply operation. A chopper arrived and the player discussed what to do with his squad members over the radio. The decision was made to take out the pilot. Activating a sniper-scoped weapon, the player took aim and shot the pilot through the head. At this point, the chopper became uncontrollable, causing its violently swinging payload - a drone it had airlifted Ė to wreak havoc on the soldiers, cars and other objects below.
Not too easy?
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier looks to to be a thrilling experience, quite different from previous games in the series. The camo suit allows for more sneaking which adds to the suspense of being discovered. This is further enhanced by the gameís audio. The sound effects were spot on and the accompanying music had my heart racing and I wasnít even playing the game myself. I am, however, wondering how Ubisoft will handle the gameís difficulty. Even if your suit requires charging every now and then, near invisibility is perhaps too powerful, changing otherwise difficult missions into taking candy from a baby. Perhaps something can be done with the shadows cast on the ground and other objects that cannot be hidden by camouflage technology.