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July 21, 2012
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Future Soldier
- PS3 Review
Release Distributor Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
24/5/2012UbisoftUbisoftUbisoft Paris1-22-8
Media HDD Space Resolution Move Controls Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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Future Soldier's battlefields are action packed.
Announced way back in January 2009 it has been a very long wait for this latest Ghost Recon title from Ubisoft but in late May 2012 Ubisoft released Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Future Soldier on consoles around the globe. It's not a surprise the game has taken so long as, after the 2010 E3 Show, and a very muted response to the action-oriented shift, Ubisoft changed direction for the game back to the original more tactical roots. Needless to say, if you like third person shooters then this game should be near the top of your list...

It must be said that the story line in Future Soldier doesn't stray too far from what's expected from a game of this ilk, but it's still presented through some nice cut-scenes. When a stolen military grade bomb takes out a Ghost squad, a new Ghost Unit must track down the source of the weapons. But the trail Kozak, Ghost Lead, Pepper and 30K follow leads around the world, into the corridors of power where rebellion and war are brewing. Soon, the Ghosts are all that stands between the world and a devastating global conflict.

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Cover is critical in Ghost Recon Future Soldier.
Admittedly the storyline isn't too much, it's certainly no thought provoking event as we've uncovered in 2K's Spec Ops: The Line (review soon - Dave), but it gets the job done and pushes you from location to the next which in Future Soldier includes Zambia, Nigeria, Russia, the Norwegian Sea, and the Arctic among others. Where this game shines is the different ways you can tackle each of the missions. Sure, you can go in all guns blazing, but you'll likely be cut down before making much progress. Perhaps avoiding all contact with enemies using the camouflage will see you proceed quicker, or tagging the enemies (either with direct sight or a drone) and using your three squad mates to pick off up to four targets simultaneously is the better option. However you proceed, through these missions using cover is the key and fortunately the cover system in Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is quite polished.

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Using the mounted gun to take on heavy resistance.
With over 50 weapons available including assault rifles, pistols, submachine guns, shotguns and sniper rifles this game has you covered. Also impressive is the customisation which you can perform on each of these weapons with every component interchangeable including recoil systems, the sights and more. Each of these weapons actually feels and reacts differently in combat - making the wrong loadout choice can certainly change your chances in each mission.

This game isn't just about the single player experience though as the main campaign can also be played with humans taking control of the four main participants in a fantastic co-op mode. Unfortunately we didn't have as much opportunity to try this out as we'd like but the time we did spend here brought an entirely new dynamic to the gameplay (and no stuck AI soldiers - more on that later). If you have a couple of friends then

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Using the drone to spot and tag enemies on the battlefield.
After ploughing through the single player campaign we do have a couple of issues with the game, and gameplay. On several occasions (three in fact) at least one of our AI controlled squad mates actually got "stuck" in the level and couldn't follow the rest of the team - there was no way to get them back on track and had to restart the mission, which, of course, sucks. The PlayStation Move controller is supported, but realistically how many hardcore gamers (and that's pretty much this games entire audience) will opt for this control device? Not many. It must be said though that Move support is well developed, but seems wasted. Also the install size of this game is pretty insane at 6439MB but there is still some loading times when you die or are starting levels. Quite annoying.

Moving on, while we understand the game is set in future, and as such you have all sorts of gadgetry at your disposal it can almost make the game "too easy". Being able to tag enemies via a sensor grenade or the drones makes it too easy to know where they are, even when behind buildings and moving around. This is even more annoying/apparent in the online multiplayer with Engineers using drones making them extremely powerful. Being able to cloak the soldiers also gives them a pretty powerful advantage when playing online. Still, perhaps it's just an adjustment we need to get used to - yes, drag us kicking into 21st century warfare.

We also found that the game has some rather nasty difficulty spikes (which seems rather contrary to the statement above that the game can be "too easy". These can be overcome rather quickly but it's so annoying when you've scouted an area, targeted all the enemies, to miss one and have him pick you off. Finally, how many times will the Ghost Recon franchise return to Russia as the primary conflict zone - how about some South American drug lords, instability in North Korea, or the conflicts in Africa, Afghanistan or something completely new.

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Entering conflict in Nigeria.
Multiplayer has always been a major aspect of the Tom Clancy titles and Future Soldier doesn't disappoint with a range of modes and very slick gameplay and support for 2-players via split-screen (this is, strangely, not an option in the main campaign mode despite early promises that it would) on a single console. First up, and separate to the main multiplayer modes, is the Guerilla Mode which is essence a horde mode which sees waves of enemies attacking you with limited weapon drops between waves across six different maps including Airstrip, Drilling Ship, Mansion, Office, Rooftops, and Shanty Town each providing a unique experience.

Moving into the main multiplayer modes this game has it all with four main modes (Conflict where teams fight over objectives, Decoy which has 3 rounds and sees the two teams battling over one target and two decoys, Saboteur which sees teams trying to blow up the oppositions base, and Siege which is a best of 3 round elimination styled mode) for up to 8-players, with a detailed levelling up system which unlocks new weapons and items. Multiplayer includes 3 different classes including Rifleman, Engineer and Scout with each having their own unique set of abilities. These modes are played across 10 maps (Alpha, Cargo, Harbor, Market, Mill, Overpass, Pipeline, Rig, Sand Storm and Underground). It is believed that more modes and maps will be released as DLC in future.

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Visuals in Ghost Recon: Future Soldier impress.
Using Ubisoft's own, and much upgraded for this game, YETI engine (which was used in Ubisoft's 2008 Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter), Future Soldier is a title which really pushes the limits of the PS3 hardware at some points, and yet disapppoints in others. Everything from the soldiers, to the locations, the menus and the in-game HUD are simply superb. Battlefields are frantic with plenty of effects such as explosions, smoke and debris around every corner while the cut-scenes too suit the game perfectly.

Yet again though we have another area in Future Solder where, while great overall, there are some issues that should have been resolved prior to release. At times the textures are very low resolution which, when viewed carefully has a jarring impact on the overall look of the game. Also the game does stutter at times, funnily enough primarily during the cut scenes rather then the gameplay, with dropped frames and screen tearing.

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Approaching and enemy encampment.
When it comes to video games few have the sonic impact that one generally hears in a war based title. That setting allows for great use of surround sound channels, plenty of microphone chatter (assuming it's a modern war), and room shaking explosions. The development teams working on this game certainly know how to make an impact with everything exactly as you would expect from such a title. Music too, while largely forgettable, was composed by Welsh band Hybrid and Tom Salta and adds some atmosphere where required.

That's not to say that the audio is perfect as, just like the gameplay and visuals, we encountered a few minor niggles. This included audio getting out of sync with the video, and very occasionally audio not playing at all.

Ghost Recon Future Soldier really is a very entertaining game with plenty to do from the great single player campaign, decent co-op (albeit not in the campaign mode), and lively multiplayer. Hardcore gamers may be upset in the shift from "Realistic" tactical action to a more "Call of Duty" styled approach, but when Activision's game shifts 20 million units can you blame them? Visuals are pushing the PS3 pretty hard, and the audio will have you believing you're on a real battlefield. Definitely worth checking out.

Review By: Dave Warner

GRAPHICSAt times jaw-dropping, at other times disappointing, overall very impressive indeed.
SOUNDThis is an action game on a grand scale. Great dialogue, decent music and superb effects. Very occasional glitches though.
GAMEPLAYNo longer the pure stragy game of the earlier titles this strikes a balance between action-packed and strategy.
VALUEAround a 10-hour campaign, co-op, guerilla mode and online multiplayer. Plenty of value here.
OVERALLGhost Recon Future Soldier is another great action title in the franchise which looks and sounds the part and is going to keep any action fan happy.

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