Ghost Recon: Future Soldier
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier Hands-On Preview - Ghostbusters!
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It's been a long road for Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. First revealed in January 2010, the title has undergone significant changes in recent years. The demo Dan previewed at E3 2010 bears little relation to the game I played just a couple of weeks ago. It's been almost completely rebuilt.

Where once Future Soldier boasted class-based characters with strength and speed-enhancing exo-skeletons, those elements have been either removed or scaled down dramatically. Indeed, if they're still a factor then the game now provides little evidence of their existence. Even the gadgets, a core of both the Tom Clancy and Ghost Recon series, have undergone a reshuffle.

One of the flagship toys of the 2010 iteration was optical camouflage. This constituted a billowing cloak with a hood, allowing you to slip into Predator-style invisibility, a barely perceptible blur. Well, for as long as the batteries lasted anyway. Now the tech is built into your armour and only active when you move at slow speeds. No hoods, no batteries, deployable when the game sees fit.

Similarly, while the early previews and marketing guff (remember the live action trailer?) placed futuristic armoured drones centre stage, they played no part in our demo, a taster that spread across four of the game's missions. Future Soldier looks decidedly less 'future' than it once did. Plonk a little mini techno-tank in this game now and it would seem out of place.

Indeed, in rebuilding the game, Ubisoft Paris has thrown out most of the content unveiled at E3 2010. The beach-based stealth attack that constituted the game's first gameplay footage? Gone. Gone with it, cool stuff like being able to hold up a downed enemy so as not to arouse the suspicion of further enemies.

What this means is that prior to this demo, all we really knew about the game's campaign was the Nigeria-based demo of E3 2011, the one that put civilians, synchronised shots and action at the forefront. And even that stirred suspicions, as it seemed to take the series further from its tactical roots.

With all this in mind, it's perhaps not surprising that Future Soldier has received a number of sizeable delays. Initially set for a winter 2010 release, you can conservatively calculate that the game will have been in development for four years by the time it hits shelves. The developers are quiet on the precise dates, but in truth only a fraction of that time has been spent bringing this particular vision of the game to fruition.

It shows. In its current state, Ghost Recon Future Soldier displays all the signs of a game that needs the extra couple of months afforded by the most recent delay. Frame rates occasionally collapse, odd scripting bugs pop up, the mission design needs tightening in places. At one stage the game even started arguing with itself, a sure sign that all is not well. Not yet, anyway.
Usually, only the slickest content is shown to press, pre-release. This build, just a week old at the time, is definitely not slick.
That's not to say that it was completely without merit though. Far from it. The new gadgets are fun for a start. Along with the active camo and the deployable, controllable AR droids – little remote control helicopter type things you use to scan an area with – there's also a magnetic view and recon grenades to fiddle with.
They're both toys with which to identify the exact location of your enemies, with the magnetic view essentially acting as a slightly more future-tastic type of heat-sensing vision. With it, you'll be able to see through walls. The recon grenades, meanwhile, allow you to toss enemy-marking emitters into the action, tagging the game's various weapons dealers and ultra-nationalist baddies.
All of these gadgets came into great use during a protracted firefight taken from midway through the game. Amongst a town's narrow streets, with civilians running and screaming all over the place, we were tasked with pushing forward while facing some fearsome resistance. Between the recon droid, magnetic view and the grenades, it was easy to tell who was who and who was where, despite the utter carnage around us.
So that was great. But aside from the gadgets, it was essentially the same third-person shooter level you've played a million times; jumping from cover to cover, from car to car, popping out to explode heads as you go. A suppression mechanic that violently shakes the screen when you're pinned down and destructible environments spice things up a bit, but the cover mechanic is a little unintuitive, clunky and, well these aren't the kind of experiences you play Ghost Recon for.

While it would be churlish to deny a series the chance of evolution, you have to wonder why it's evolving to be so similar to other military shooters.

Far, far better were the stealth sections. Moving quietly through an area, snapping necks and generally acting like a tooled-up future ninja is fantastically fun. This is due in no small part to synchronised shots. These can work in two ways. You tag enemies using a shoulder button, then either take your shot, at which point your teammates will take theirs, or you hold the shoulder button to instruct your allies to do it independently. Watching four idling enemies simultaneously crumple to the floor is ultra satisfying.

There's variety there too. In one level - essentially a stealth level - I snuck from cover to cover, silently executing or slipping by everyone I encountered. In the demo of the same level we'd been shown earlier in the day, with the game's Creative Director in control, a firefight had broken out. And not just a “oh shit, I got detected” kinda firefight like you'd get in something like Hitman. This was a full-on set-piece, with a running battle against soldiers in a Jeep.

It's this kind of variety that suggests the great potential of Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. If they can squash the bugs, tighten everything up and afford the player some agency over their experience, then this may just rejuvenate a now ailing series. But if Future Soldier goes heavy on the brainless combat, it will just be another shooter, albeit one with flashes of brilliance. We're hoping for the former.

Ghost Recon: Future Soldier will be marching onto the retail battlefield in May 2012.


User Comments

Forum Posts: 2200
Comment #1 by cheevo360
Thursday, January 26, 2012 @ 11:03:02 AM
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Really look forward this, I am glad Ghost Recon returns since 2007!!!

Forum Posts: 10
Comment #2 by citizen666
Thursday, January 26, 2012 @ 11:04:30 AM
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This game has been delayed so many times that I just lost interest in it. To delay a game once o twice is one thing. To continuously delay is just a slap in the face.

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #3 by SG1 Warsquatch
Thursday, January 26, 2012 @ 11:08:34 AM
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I know what I will be treating myself to for the month of May. There is more than enough games to hold me over till then.

Forum Posts: 69
Comment #4 by InfestusDnB
Thursday, January 26, 2012 @ 11:12:42 AM
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A little disheartened to be honest, should have been a standout game based on its heritage, but from all I've just read, sounds like more of the same old same old military shooter genre we are all growing to be very VERY bored of. I hope I am wrong.

Forum Posts: 19
Comment #5 by xGallade
Thursday, January 26, 2012 @ 11:13:51 AM
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I bought GRAW and GRAW2 years back when they came out. Won't have a problem buying this one featuring Future Warfare!

Forum Posts: 1068
Comment #6 by The Bum-Mobile
Thursday, January 26, 2012 @ 11:20:39 AM
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Had this pre-ordered since June '10. Hope this ends up good, and I REALLY hope they haven't cut Terrorist Hunt. As fun as a four-player, scripted campaign can be, it's always more fun to have a four-player do-it-yourself killing spree.

Forum Posts: 148
Comment #7 by x_Silxx_x
Thursday, January 26, 2012 @ 11:25:39 AM
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Forum Posts: 15
Comment #8 by Jack Flak
Thursday, January 26, 2012 @ 11:32:21 AM
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Bugs and glitches? I wish we had some kind of trial process for gamers to help us work out those bugs. Oh wait...

Forum Posts: 47
Comment #9 by CraigChaotic
Thursday, January 26, 2012 @ 11:55:08 AM
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When I first seen Ghost Recon: Future Soldier teasers & trailers, I was really enjoying what I seen and anticipated it muchly, now...well I just dont know anymore.

Forum Posts: 7
Comment #10 by Larsson91
Thursday, January 26, 2012 @ 11:59:33 AM
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There have been a lot great games that have been out lately, some of which I'm still playing, so I think that May is a good time to release GR:FS and I for one think it's going to be great.

Forum Posts: 330
Comment #11 by STONE DEVIL
Thursday, January 26, 2012 @ 12:19:11 PM
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Too many delays. I don't care anymore.

Forum Posts: 296
Comment #12 by ViNyLek
Thursday, January 26, 2012 @ 12:21:28 PM
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I have been aching for another Ghost Recon for too long. Now this and R6 coming out not a year apart means a great deal to me, but reading this preview I am not so sure about this particular GR game anymore. It's like you said this game was as mucha bout shooting as it was about tactics and gadgets. If they dumb it down it might just lose the main selling point it had for me...

Forum Posts: 213
Comment #13 by lazygammer13
Thursday, January 26, 2012 @ 12:26:54 PM
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...The game started "arguing with itself"...?

Forum Posts: 46
Comment #14 by LeeBradley [STAFF]
Thursday, January 26, 2012 @ 01:08:42 PM
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Heheh - yeah, it did. I completed a task in a way that it didn't like, so it tried to take me to a game over screen... but then stopped and went back to normal. Really, really weird. That got the devs chatting behind me.

I did originally have the full story of the weirdness in this preview, but it had to be cut because it was too long. I'm publishing an opinion piece tomorrow that details another problem I encountered though. Might be helpful.

Anyway, remember this game isn't out until May. Don't write it off yet, despite these problems.

Forum Posts: 242
Comment #15 by JustAFriend
Thursday, January 26, 2012 @ 01:18:06 PM
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'6 terrorist hunt? its not rainbow 6!

Forum Posts: 296
Comment #16 by ViNyLek
Thursday, January 26, 2012 @ 02:23:49 PM
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@#14 I actually just read a piece from GI on their demo playthrough (4 missions) and while they do complain about same things you do in 2 first missions, the next two (some forest in Russia, I believe) they appraise as going back to the roots with open enviroment and tactical aspect like zooming out to UAV and marking targets as in good old days.. Also they never mentioned any glitches or bugs, so maybe they just got lucky?

I know that in most games ppl complain about glitch this, bug that, but until Skyrim I was always scratching my head and trying to remember if I encountered any of the mentioned problems and truth is I didn't=)

Forum Posts: 46
Comment #17 by LeeBradley [STAFF]
Thursday, January 26, 2012 @ 03:01:39 PM
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Yup, I didn't play a forest level. And yeah, maybe I did get unlucky with the weird scripting and bugs and wotnot. It is odd to encounter so many issues at this stage of development though. They usually ensure that everything is nailed down before they show it to us.

As for Skyrim, that's an expansive RPG with all kinds of crap going on in it. Ghost Recon is a (relatively) tiny little shooter. Anyway, like I said, this may be great. But on that day, with that build, doing the things that I did - I didn't have the best time with it. Fingers crossed that by May it's all cleared up.

Forum Posts: 499
Comment #18 by AirborneRichard
Thursday, January 26, 2012 @ 03:28:16 PM
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Its to bad realy when i seen the first gameply demo in 2010 i was so hyped by it, always having great memories about the first two GRAW games, i loved how smart the enemies behaved and actualy tried to flank you or stayed in cover to pop up and shoot at you when you tought you had them all. As for the 2010 demo that was posted on a beach in some former russian country and you had to capture so russian guy, i loved the teamwork and the looks, but sinds the 2011 demo i just seen that they almost completly stripped out what was supposed to be Ghost Recon in 2010, with new looks and new gameplay tweaks. I know this has been delayed a few times, first time it was because of the high amount of big games hitting the market "Black Ops" ect. Then it was the add-on of kinect, and now.. well we all know its gonna be may now, but reading this it def makes sence, but i got my doubts about it realy why changing a game that was, at least in my eyes already perfect and then changing it all over again and facing problems like this. I just hope Ubisoft Paris isn,t trying to build another COD or battlefield wanna be, because the idea behind the serie was always tactical and watching your suroundings. It somehow all reminds me of Splinter Cell Conviction what was delayed several times and ended up for most as an very average splinter cell with average graphics while already dated because of the many delays so lets pray and hope this GRAW not faces the same fate.

Forum Posts: 509
Comment #19 by ConfederateSuga
Thursday, January 26, 2012 @ 04:03:32 PM
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Wow this game is looking good. Been my most wanted shooter for the past couple years. So glad it's FINALLY coming out. I'm actually glad they took their time on it. The initial pics looked like garbage. This looks finely tuned and polished!

Forum Posts: 258
Comment #20 by secretkaos187
Thursday, January 26, 2012 @ 04:07:30 PM
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I hope this demo is not a representation of the final game...I remember this being the first game I played on XBL on the original box!!! I liked the "Lone Wolf" gametype.

Forum Posts: 80
Comment #21 by chizrocker88
Thursday, January 26, 2012 @ 05:43:42 PM
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Please don't delay this again lol

Forum Posts: 5
Comment #22 by Ghosty McGoo
Thursday, January 26, 2012 @ 07:23:11 PM
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May? Dammit, I was really looking forward to ditching BF3 for this game, but now this means I'm stuck with BF3 for another couple of months.

Forum Posts: 258
Comment #23 by Red Cooley
Thursday, January 26, 2012 @ 08:41:09 PM
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Ubi needs to fix the glitched achievement in GRAW 2 before they try to sell any new GRAW game to us.

Forum Posts: 525
Comment #24 by I CR0W I
Friday, January 27, 2012 @ 04:30:31 AM
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I hope you can switch which shoulder the camera looks over. So sick of playing 3rd person games and having to take a blind right turn.

Forum Posts: 190
Comment #25 by Magus 0f Zeal
Saturday, January 28, 2012 @ 01:13:50 AM
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@#18 I'm smelling what your stepping in. While I like COD I'm getting annoyed that the good sales have caused other games SP to suffer. Medal of Honor felt too similar to COD. There some distinctions to it like the cover system but not many. A lot of the set pieces and levels felt like ones I've already one or two times in COD games. Battlefield 3 single-player also felt very different when compared with the previoues 3 full retail releases. I slightly blame EA in those cases but really who the hell knows but them. COD is guilty as well. I hope MW is finished after 3. I like how the story finished and wouldn't mind knowing what happens to Price but other than that I'm done with that storyline. Games need to find their own identities and embrace them.

Forum Posts: 5
Comment #26 by hythloday
Monday, January 30, 2012 @ 09:42:23 AM
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From what the other posts are telling me, it sounds like the game is still littered with bugs. I suspect another delay.

Forum Posts: 10
Comment #27 by ERIKDOTCOM
Friday, February 10, 2012 @ 09:14:17 AM
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May 2012? How the fuck? This game has had me so excited, then so disappointed, and then so excited again. I just don't think it could be ready that soon.

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Game Info
Ubisoft Paris


US May 22, 2012
Europe May 25, 2012

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