After a six year wait and numerous release date setbacks, to say that I was excited about the release of the Ghost Recon: Future Soldier would be an understatement. Will my excitement be worth the wait, or did Ubisoft just delay the death of their prized franchise? I have been a long time fan of the slow, tactical pace of Ghost Recon titles since the first-person shooter PC days. Read on to see how the beta holds up against other Ghost Recon titles and other shooters on the market.
First off, this is clearly a beta, with all the bugs and glitches that come with it. Glitches included players getting under the map, endless load screens, and the always favorite party system problems. None of these issues caused me any concern, because almost every multiplayer beta I have been a part of has had these problems. I am here to focus on the gameplay. Well, except for matchmaking…
My problem with the matchmaking is…why is there matchmaking? Part of the appeal of Ghost Recon was searchable and hosted rooms. This allowed the host to have full control of the room, down to what explosives and equipment was allowed; the host could even determine whether or not a player was allowed to stay in the lobby. With the match- making system, you are stuck with the stupid mouth-breathing, mic-singing, John Rambo players out there. I am holding out hope that the final release will implement a searchable room feature and customizable matches, and not just in private matches. I have to say that Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is a solid title even in beta form, but in my opinion there are a few issues that plague the game.
The first issue I ran across was the pacing of the multiplayer. It is a little faster than what you would expect to see from a Ghost Recon title, but I chalk this up to the fact that once the engineer class is leveled a few places, you have numerous ways to collect info on the battlefield. The engineer is given two intel grenades with a massive scan range: with two engineers, a team could easily light up the entire battlefield, giving away everyone’s position. This causes mad dashes to get kills.
Along with the sensor grenades, the engineer can unlock aerial drones, and each player can equip a taser. If you taser a player, you can hack him and get intel, giving away his team’s location. I feel the amount intel that can be gathered needs to be lessened to help bring back the stealthy feel of previous Ghost titles.
Another issue I ran into was with frag grenades. When throwing grenades, you can hold the button down – not to cook the grenade, but to bring up a flight path that takes all the skill of grenade throwing. Another issue is the instant explosion on grenades: once the grenades hit the ground, they explode, giving you no time to escape the grenade or even realize that the indicator is on the screen.
The final issue I see is the American team seems to have slight advantages, from stronger weapons to seemingly better objective placements. However, I cannot not fully confirm this due to the fact that out of the 100+ games I have played I have been on the American side five times. It seems that whatever player is first in the room gets to be the Americans, and once the American team fills, then the matchmaking fills the Russian side, and the teams do not shuffle between matches.
There is one amazing addition to this series, and it is the Gun Smith feature. This allows you to pull the entire gun apart and do customization that no other game has allowed. The best part of gunsmith is not the modification; it is the fact that you can take your gun into a firing range and see how it handles. I hope other games take notice of this and find ways to implement it.
Other than the few issues mentioned, I feel that Future Soldier can stand with its older brothers. Some Ghost Recon faithful will not agree with me, but we all know how gamers reject change yet hate things that stay the same. The promising thing is that Ubisoft made mention that the beta is from an older build of the game, and the fact that most functions of the game can be changed In the cloud. This is an amazing feature, allowing the developers to change weapon specs and objective placements on the fly without having to wait for a title update.
This beta is setting out to accomplish what it was meant to do: make sure the online aspect is smooth and reliable. The gameplay is already there, Of course, with five years of development it had better be, or Ubisoft is looking to lose a lot here.
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier release May 22 on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.