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Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier

Platform(s): Nintendo DS, PC, PSP, PlayStation 3, Wii, WiiU, Xbox 360
Genre: Action
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Paris
Release Date: May 22, 2012 (US), May 24, 2012 (EU)


PS3/X360/PC Preview - 'Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on April 23, 2012 @ 12:15 a.m. PDT

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier features cutting-edge technology, prototype high-tech weaponry, state-of-the-art single-player and multiplayer modes, while going beyond the core Ghost Recon franchise and deliver a fresh gameplay experience, with an unparalleled level of quality that excites long-time fans and newcomers alike.

As one expects from a Tom Clancy game, the "future" in Ghost Recon: Future Soldier isn't very far off. It's focused on extrapolating modern-day technology into something slightly more advanced — a glimpse into a possible future. Future Soldier is a shooter with an emphasis on the role of technology in the battlefield. This includes everything from unmanned drones and long-distance aerial strikes to up-to-the-minute interpersonal satellite imaging and augmented reality that is updated in real time using combat data. Of course, there's still plenty of room for guns of all shapes and sizes.

Our brief demo of Future Soldier multiplayer drove home the idea that it is the person with the most information, not the biggest guns, who will win future wars. Future Soldier is a class-based shooter, with each class representing part of the team. In the demo, we could access three classes: Engineer, Marksman and Scout. The Engineer can use machine guns and shotguns, but his big advantage is various tech. He has sensor grenades that can mark enemy positions on the HUD, an unmanned aerial drone that can ferret out hiding foes and block detection from other engineers. The Marksman is your all-around soldier class. They have more health than anyone else and can equip weapons capable of suppressing enemies who are behind cover. The Scout equips long-distance sniper rifles and can become invisible as long as they're not moving. As you'd expect from a modern shooter, each class has a leveling system. The more you play, the more you'll unlock. Each class is strong by default, and they only get stronger as you level up.

Just as important as picking your character is picking your weapon, though it's a slightly more complex process than in most games because each weapon is fully customizable. You can change pretty much every single part of the gun. You can replace the barrel, the trigger, the gas system, the optics … beyond a certain point, it starts to resemble the old joke about replacing the ax's handle and blade. Each option gives you new advantages and disadvantages. Change your barrel, and you might get a stealthier but weaker gun or a gun that's easier to control but has less range; there are also various options in between. You can easily make your machine gun a deadly accurate, close-range weapon or a useful long-range suppression weapon. Most of these upgrade parts are unlockable, so you'll have to level up your character or spend unlocked Attachment Tokens to buy them.

Teamwork is the name of the game in Future Soldier. While it's technically possible to run around and shoot enemies like a crazy person, you're going to be at a massive disadvantage. The "future" part of soldier plays heavily into the augmented reality to which each soldier has access. At all times, you can see your friends' location on the field; it's important since coordinating and planning attacks is essential due to the quick and lethal combat. Even if you get the jump on an enemy, you can die quickly if you're not prepared with backup. In addition, characters can assist in ways that only work if you're close together. An Engineer is much more effective if he has a friend nearby. He can throw sonar grenades to mark enemies, use his drones to point out snipers, or block enemy engineers from doing the same. However, the Marksman is much better at taking advantage of these bonuses. No one character can do everything, and two people working together are far more lethal than one. On top of that, each character effectively functions as a mobile respawn point. If one of your squadmates is alive, you can respawn right on top of him, as long as he's not right next to an objective or otherwise being jammed or detected.

Having to work together to take objectives is a huge part of the game. In the demo, the primary gameplay mode involved your team attempting to take objectives from the other side. These objectives ranged from bombing supply caches to protecting EMP generations and hunting down a "high-value target." Each time an objective is completed, a new one pops up, and both sides have to struggle over it. The challenge is that there isn't really a good way to take many of these objectives by yourself. While you can probably shoot a HVT in the head alone, there's no way to protect a generator or capture an intel sensor on your own because you'll be vulnerable, and the objective points often have multiple entrances and exits. Each objective is worth a bunch of points, and the only way to win a match is by working together to complete them. It doesn't matter what your kills-to-death ratio is if the enemy is completing their objectives and you're not. A Scout is a prime guardian due to the ability to go invisible and snipe from a distance, but he can only do his job if Engineers are properly using sensors to warn about enemies before they get up close.

Ghost Recon: Future Soldier places an ever-increasing emphasis on information. Future Soldier wants players to work together and communicate far more than it wants you to shoot at the enemy. It's possible to win matches with few kills as long as you have a better understanding of the battlefield and the people on it. There's still room for sniping enemies from afar or blowing them away with your shotgun, but you'll be able to do so a lot more effectively with the aid of drones, satellites, and other nifty gadgets.

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