Ghost Recon: Future Soldier Pre-E3 2011 PreviewBy Stephen Johnson - Posted Jun 06, 2011
You probably know the drill already with Tom Clancy games. Like Tom Clancy novels, they're heavy on tech, weaponry and specifics-- so obsessive about details and technology, they'd be almost wonky, if all those high-tech gadgets weren't being employed in the unwonky world of secret warfare and mechanized murder.
While the tone and focus of Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is familiar, the gameplay mechanics are new. Gone are the micro-managing squad commands from games like Advance Warfighter. Instead, the hook of Future Soldier is co-op. You can play the story mode with three of your pals; If you don't have any pals, you'll be stuck with AI, but you don't order them around obsessively like you did in past Clancy games.
Judging from the single-player demo I saw, fighting in Future Soldier is much as I imagine real war would be. Battles are won through preparation, organization and teamwork more than heroics, and high-tech weaponry that functions perfectly often means the difference between victory and defeat.
Players' HUDs and other in-game info is organically displayed as much as possible. The titular Ghosts have weapons and gadgets that are more high tech than anything on earth, so they can look at their surrounding and see contextual information. They have read-outs of their own health and ammo, tactical intel, and more. Overall, it's a ton of raw data, but it doesn't feel overwhelming in the demo level we saw due to an almost instinctive feel for the needs of the players.
Stealth and cooperation were huge parts of the demo level. Early on, the squad of Ghosts make a trip through some crowded streets in third-world Africa. Intel overlays showed off salient details in the city. To get into an armed compound, a Ghost assignates a less-than-vigilant guard, then, deploys a drone to survey the area, and crawl inside buildings to gather intel on the people therein. Our screen showed silhouettes of unsuspecting enemies, and the squad quietly made their way into position in order to execute a perfectly synchronized triple kill.
Future Soldier gives you the option of seeing the world from your friend's POV, as well as indicating when they have their shots lined up, allowing for perfectly syncronized kill shots. The idea of the game is to seamlessly weave realistic combat, intelligence gathering and teamwork into one playing experience. From the look of the demo, Ubisoft was largely successful.
But totally apart from the gameplay, I found the game to be a bit troubling. All of this mayhem and murder was lovingly rendered with realistic graphics, and plausible action, but it's creepy somehow. It's hard for me to root for the Ghosts; they're shadow soldiers with no government, and in the demo, they have their adversaries so outgunned and outmatched, it's hardly even a contest. It seems unfair for the forces of Western Capitalism to be coming down so hard on people in an African nation -- the Ghosts employ a lot of firepower and technology to take out dudes without shirts in bamboo shacks. It's like playing the first Star Wars from the point of view of Darth Vader.
I'm not sure how or if that sense of Western colonial guilt will be addressed in the game's plot, but the possibility of the story at least acknowledging these troubling themes would be interesting. Moral misgivings aside, as a yahoo-shoot-guys experience, Future Soldier is awesome, and definitely one to watch.