Tom’s Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier or TC’s GR: FS for short (man they need to make these titles shorter…) is the latest game in Ubisoft’s long line of squad-based tactical third-person shooters. Similar to previous games such as Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced War Fighter (oh my…), you are tasked with controlling a team of futuristic soldiers called Ghosts as they attempt to complete missions and neutralize hostiles. While the full game won’t be out till May 22, late last month Ubisoft let a select group of gamers get their hands on the multiplayer aspect of the game. After playing it I can say that it may have its problems, but overall this is one very solid shooter.
The multiplayer beta didn’t provide a lot when it came to content. We were given a measly two maps, Mill and Pipeline; two gametypes, Conflict and Saboteur; and three classes, the Rifleman, Scout, and Engineer. But even with this small assortment, I was still engaged enough that I ended up playing for around 16 hours. Let’s breakdown some of these, starting with the maps. Mill is your typical forest map with plenty of trees and areas to hide and ambush from. It’s also quite large in scale and lends itself to long range battles and sniping. Pipeline on the other hand is a lot more closed off and fast paced, it has plenty of cover and enemies are constantly rushing and getting in your face.
Out of the two, I preferred Pipeline in the end for its quicker pace. Moving on to the gametypes, Conflict is a new twist on the usual capture and hold gametype that we’ve all seen. What’s nice here is that the objectives are constantly changing locations as well as type. For example, you first objective may be to defend an EMP bomb, and then it will quickly switch to taking out a person of interest that has been assigned on each team. This keeps things fresh, but it’s not without its problems.
The biggest being that the objectives are often placed in locations which give one team an unfair advantage; they can end up in spots that can easily be camped and it makes capturing them nearly impossible without intense cooperation. Near the end of the beta an update was issued to try to remedy this problem, but I didn’t notice much of a difference from the time I played. This is definitely one thing that needs to be balanced before the game launches. The other gametype, Saboteur, is more like a traditional match of capture the flag, except here it’s a bomb instead. One person picks it up and then has to be defended as he carries it to a specified location to detonate and win the match. It’s not as fun or interesting as Conflict so I didn’t really spend that much time playing it.
Finally, there are the three classes in Future Soldier which are pretty interesting and all have unique abilities. The Rifleman is your usual assault/soldier class. He carries an assault rifle, armor to reduce damage, grenades, and can use attachments like heartbeat monitors to detect enemies. The Scout is your sniper class; he has his rifle, flash bangs and best of all, he can cloak himself if he remains still. Finally, the Engineer class deals with support, he carries either an SMG or a shotgun and relies on sensor grenades and UAV drones in order to spot enemies for his teammates. The UAV is remote controlled and is quite fun to play around with. Also, every time your teammates killed a player you spotted, you get a huge XP bonus. As a note, every class can carry any type of grenade.
Each class plays to its strengths in order to benefit their team. As you play, get kills, and capture objectives, you gain XP which lets you level up and unlock new abilities and weapons. There are some unbalances though. The Rifleman in particular ends with some pretty overpowered guns that simply mow down players like paper. This is especially bad if a couple of them decide to take cover in front of your spawn area and just camp you into oblivion, which happened on more than one occasion.
The Scout’s camo ability and rifles aren’t too bad, but of course encourages camping. Thankfully, they’re not too hard to take out with a few well placed headshots. The Engineer is definitely underpowered from my experience. This is the class I played the most and they barely stand a chance with their slow shotguns and weak SMG’s. Using sensors and UAV are extremely helpful to your team, but when I tried to do anything besides that, Rifleman and Scouts would have me for lunch. Gameplay aside, the beta also had some serious stability issues.
From day one the game would suffer from extreme bouts of lag during certain matches. It would get to so bad that you couldn’t even spawn, and once you did you couldn’t even move without getting tossed around like a rubber band. There were also various times where I would get disconnected for no reason or even worse, my Xbox 360 would just freeze and require me to hard reset it. I understand this is a beta, but I haven’t seen problems this bad in a long time. I hope Ubisoft has already addressed this in the final build or else players are going to get extremely frustrated with the experience.
All of these issues aside, though, the game’s multiplayer is pretty solid. And there’s still aspects which I’m eager to try like the campaign co-op and survival mode. It looks and sounds great, the controls are tight, and the game allows plenty of gun customization through its GunSmith system. This is actually pretty engrossing as you’re always checking back after you leveling up to see what new gadget you can attach to your gun or what cool modification you can make. You can add things like different scopes, stocks, triggers, and paintjobs so your weapon is really your own and designed to your play style. Just don’t expect to run and gun.
When I first loaded up the beta, I was immediately confused as I had never fully played any of the previous games in the series. So I did what I was used to doing in other shooters, I runned and gunned; let’s just say I didn’t stay alive very long. After a couple of matches I got a better hang of things and I realized the importance of not only teamwork, but taking cover. Without either of these things, you will die quite a bit.
This is not Call of Duty, although it does have some its problems; namely its immature community and its army of campers (at least here they don’t mic spam though). Whether they end up buying the game when it’s released, I’m not so sure. This just isn’t fast paced enough to get them excited. It is fun though, especially if you’re playing it with friends which is exactly what I did. And if Ubisoft can fix a lot of these issues, then I think Future Soldier can definitely make a splash on today’s crowded multiplayer scene.