I hadn’t played any of the Ghost Recon series for a long time, so I was hoping for a good experience coming back to it after a few years. A lot of things I had heard were good and I was impressed by the Kinect presentation of what this game could do before it came out, so all in all I was expecting a good game. I was not disappointed.
For those of you living under a rock, Tom Clancy writes books, good books, about military and ex-military operations (The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, The Sum of All Fears – they make damn good movies too). He’s also responsible for the Ghost Recon and Splinter Cell series of games, meaning anything from sneaking around quietly to killing people for fun and profit (and patriotic duty). Ghost Recon continues the feel of the previous games and carries on the Tom Clancy legacy.
While First-Person shooters don’t usually have a story to “ruin,” I will respect those who feel the story can be spoiled and try to be vague whenever possible. The story starts in Nicaragua, as a team of special ops soldiers in the line of duty find themselves very much off-duty. This begins a long campaign of missions trying to slowly work your way back to who caused the Nicaragua incident at the beginning of the game. You go to Nicaragua, Africa, Russia, Siberia and a few other places in the pursuit of the truth and of justice and you have quite a few gadgets to help along the way.
The gameplay is straight FPS with a solid story and some pretty good gadgets. My favorite is the hover-drone which you can operate by remote control to look around within a certain distance. The drone is near-invisible to the enemy, but it can be seen so you need to be careful to stay out of sight with it as well. You can mark targets with the hover-drone so that you or your teammates know where the guys are and having your teammates take them out while you mark them with the drone can make all the difference when getting through some heavy areas. Also, detection is pretty sensitive even on the Recruit setting (which I used because I didn’t know how much I was going to end up using the Kinect) so being strategic on which enemies to target when is both necessary and advisable.
The weapons customization is amazingly detailed. You can change almost anything on almost any gun, from the sights, the stock, the barrel, the paint, to the trigger, the side rail, you name it. Many of the customizations need to be unlocked either by getting to certain points in the campaign or by achieving success on different side challenges. The side challenges range from easy to “how the heck am I supposed to do that,” which can be pretty fun.
The music was fairly well done, kept me in the moment and helped with the suspense. The graphics were fairly realistic environment-wise and while the people weren’t ultra-realistic the motion was always fluid and beautiful and I only saw one extremely minor glitch, which was literally a mini-loading screen when going from one part of a level to another, which didn’t happen in any other level.
“To Kinect or Not To Kinect?” That was my question. When it came time to start at the customization screen, it allows for the Kinect to start. It does NOT, however, show you the tutorial for how to use it in the campaign mode. Instead, you need to go into the Multiplayer section in order to watch the tutorial. This was definitely poorly planned and the lack of an for it created the situation where I tried to use the Kinect and, while thinking I had a handle on it, I ended up stuck in the customization screen because once I went in it wouldn’t let me back out, whether using the Kinect gestures or the voice commands to get out of it. I had to restart the game and I pretty much stayed away from the Kinect interface after that, especially since the aiming had my character looking at the ground and spinning around instead of up at the target range.
The Good, The Bad and the Ugly of it
Good: Almost everything. Good graphics, good story and nice smooth gaming experience.
The Bad: It was a bit short, but the ability to replay and get those challenges done may account for that a bit, unless one is a perfectionist and very good at FPS games, which would mean it was slightly longer playtime but they managed to do all the challenges the first or second time through.
The Ugly: I’d say a couple of the bad guys were pretty ugly. Otherwise, the only ugly was my own experience with the Kinect section and the lack of a tutorial for it in the main Campaign section. This is actually a running trend for a lot of games lately, they somehow assume people will jump on the Multiplayer before they even try the Campaign/Story mode. I remember a game actually came with the Multiplayer as Disc 1 and the Story as Disc 2 earlier this year, which I found slightly annoying as a lone gamer. I’m in it for the story, I don’t run around online racking up kills, so to the guys working so hard to bring us good games: Don’t forget us Story-lovers,!
All in all, as the scores will show, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is definitely a good game, and a nice challenge for those who want one.
Overall Score: 8 / 10