First Thoughts: Ghost Recon: Future Soldier Beta

The wait is finally over! Ghost Recon: Future Soldier has arrived…well partially.

The stage is set for a gaming marathon on 2 maps and a single game mode; a bit limited, but a Ghost Recon game nonetheless. And it’s the game that I had waited years for.

Game Mode: The Ghost Recon Future Soldier Beta consists of a single game mode called Conflict. This mode is a unique take on traditional objective modes in that it spawns fresh objectives on-the-fly throughout the match. Teams accomplish each objective as they arrive from their unique viewpoint. For example, as Ghosts, players may be tasked to escort a H.V.T (High Value Target) to safety. The opposinng BODARK (Russian Ghost Team) is then tasked to eliminate said H.V.T. If either team manages to accomplish their mission objective, they will be awarded points accordingly. Upon the conclusion of this objective, a new one is spawned shortly thereafter and the process begins anew. This back-and-forth struggle creates a tense atmosphere as scores start to climb and a victor becomes more and more imminent.

The missions are also called out via “Comm-Chatter” from your team’s command which adds to the game’s realism and immersion. The fact that a winning team is determined by a score and not a kill counter also reinforces that objective-play-will-win-the-day tournament mentality and not the actions of lone wolf with a great kill-to-death ratio. In fact, I did not hear anyone bragging about their kill spread; except perhaps my buddy sitting next to me as he looked over at my screen between rounds.

First Thoughts on Ghost Recon: Future Soldier continues after the break.

The Controls: This was the one aspect of Future soldier that had me the most curious. Having logged insane amount of hours playing GRAW and GRAW2 I had grown accustomed to the unique control layout that those games offered. Having also played an equally insane amount of Gears of War 3 made me yearn for a better control scheme. I am happy to say that Ubisoft nailed it. Granted the button layout is not as traditional as you may want or expect, considering that they had to cram a large amount of options for the player. Cover also feels intuitive and responsive, which adds to the tactical nature of the game.

The one thing that annoyed me about Gears of War was the use of a “cover-bouncing” technique to move from one piece of cover to the next. Although it was effective, it did not feel right considering that your character was the size of a wrestler with about 200 pounds of armor and equipment. Ghost Recon forgoes this for a system called “Cover Swapping.” While in cover you highlight another piece of available cover nearby and hold down your ‘A’ button . Your character will then sprint to the location and take up position behind cover. The whole process feels responsive and remains an efficient way to navigate the battlefield.

Everything else is handled much the same way that most cover based shooters do with vaulting over cover stealing the show. Who would have thought that clambering over cover could look so good!

Shooting is handled much like its previous incarnations with the left trigger (360) or L1 (PS3) serving as a slightly zoomed over-the-shoulder aim, and clicking your right thumbstick aims down sights just like in SOCOM 4. Throw on a red dot sight or ACOG attachment to your gun and you have the best of both worlds (third-person gameplay with first-person aiming). Bullets fly and land with a convincing thud and hit markers are clear and satisfying.

GUNSMITH: Future Soldier utilizes the most unusual gun customization feature in any military shooter ever created. After playing around in GUNSMITH mode, I can’t belive that no other company had created something like this before. DICE and Infinity Ward/Treyarch have to look at this and wonder why they didn’t think about it.

The game gives you the ability to view all your weapons in a 3D-modeled environment and then separate your weapon into its various components to be swapped out on from a list of unlocked parts at your disposal. All this is based on your own unlocks and your chosen soldier class. You can the reassemble the gun with a click of a button and watch it get re-built in real-time. If that wasn’t enough, you can them immediately take your creation for a test run at the firing range with various targets set up at different ranges. All this can be done prior to actually spending the upgrade points on the new creation.

The ultimate cherry on top here is knowing that when the game launches in May, Ubisoft will release a companion app for GUNSMITH that lets you do all of this on-the-go on your iPhone/Android or Ipad and then upload it to be waiting for you when you arrive home to play. Throw in a virtual “gun store” with other player created weapons available for sharing and you have a feature that is light-years ahead of any modern shooter on the market today. Did I mention that the App is free?

Presentation: Much debate has been had about Future Soldier’s presentation. It is widely known that they are using an updated version (almost to the point of it being rebuilt) of the Unreal technology that powered GRAW2. The difference here is in how it’s used. While I must consider that the beta is not a final version, I did not have any gripes with what I saw. The occasional texture pop-in which is common with the Unreal Engine and something that still plagues the Gears of War series to this day has just become something I deal with. The enviroment looked great and felt alive with ambiance and a musical score at the beginning of each round to get you pumped.

I did notice that the frame-rate stuttered a little at times when the action got too intense. As well, the in-game audio takes a hit during those graphically taxing moments, but I am hoping that those get cleared up in time before release. Typically beta builds are much older than when we get them so its feasible that those issues will have been eliminated in the final build that will be released next month.

Fun Factor: Lets say this, if Future Soldier shipped tomorrow and I was given the same game I am playing now only with more maps and modes…I would still buy it. The game is everything I wanted it to be and the beta is only making me want more. My buddy and I killed a seven-hour gaming session without blinking and found ourselves working as a team in no time. Granted we were playing LAN-style in the same room on separate TV’s which most gamers aren’t doing all the time, but we even managed to make a few friends who were also playing tactically just like us.

I think the community that will embrace this game will understand its core values and draw like-minded players to them as the months go by after release. There is a new game mode coming out before the end of the beta for us to sample and then it closes on May 2nd. We will have to wait about 20 days until we get our hands on the full version and really sink our teeth into it.

Check back with us at the end of May to read our full review of the game and see if the beta helped Ubisoft iron out some of the issues that I mentioned above. I need to get back to designing more guns in GUNSMITH so thanks for tuning in!

Dwayne “EVO Knight” Morash

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Posted on April 30, 2012, in Game Previews and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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