My multiplayer offerings over the past five years or so have essentially been exclusive to first-person shooters, the COD's, Battlefield's and Metal of Honor's, with the occasional Crysis session. This shift in gaming comes after years of third-person multiplayer offerings on my plate: games like Syphon Filter, SOCOM and even GRAW back in the early days of the Xbox 360.
It's great then that Ubisoft is trying to make the genre relevant again with what seems to be a very "hardcore", team-based third-person shooter in the form of Ghost Recon: Future Soldier.
Admittedly, the game's beta on Xbox 360 is not without its problems. Initial server issues plagued its launch, but things certainly seem to be getting back on track after a weekend of fine-tuning. After finally getting into a consistent flow of matches, I've found Future Soldier to be promising, at-times excessively fun, but certainly not perfect.
Having been a COD gamer for the last four or five years, it's hard to go into a game like this that has such an aggressive focus on objectives and team play. Whereas Battlefield 3 tried to compliment the apparent need for fast, individualistic gameplay around team-based modes, Future Soldier remains grounded with a very focused direction: take caution with your forward moves, take the objective, defend, and progress.
On the weapon customization front, the game provides a neat little graphic to detail a weapon's control, manoeuvrability, power, and range after a modification, which is a nice touch that helps you manage your arsenal efficiently and effectively. Customizing my ACR with a Magpul angled fore-grip for added stability makes for smooth weapon handling and fun combat.
Interestingly, the addition of "Gunsmith" -- an automatic modification feature -- allows you to tweak weapons based on either close or long-range combat, which should please casual players that aren't especially interested in spending the time modifying and testing out their weapons. You won't end up with the best weapons, but Gunsmith does the basics for you to at least grasp a basic understanding of some unlocked modifications.
The game's three classes -- Scout, Engineer and Rifleman -- each offer a different range of weapons and skills. Scout uses sniper rifles and SMGs as well as a great cloaking ability, which activates while in cover; Engineer uses SMGs and personal defense weapons, as well as sensor grenades and UAVs; while the Rifleman relies on the trusty assault rifles and LMGs alongside teammate revival skills and extra ammo.
The classes seem fairly balanced, and the cloaking ability doesn't seem especially over-powered, as I initially feared. Being able to stun and hack enemies for information makes for an effective method of infiltration on the battlefield, and is one of many interesting (and fun) gameplay implementations included in the beta.
Game modes are randomly generated with random objectives: some matches will require you to activate an EMP site for long enough for it to detonate, while other modes have you catching and defending supply points.
After a few hours with Future Soldier, I'm anticipating the final release more than ever. Controls are smooth and the combat fierce, while the nice mixture of objectives and weapon customization makes for an enjoyable tactical third-person shooter.
By Gaetano Prestia - Tweet @Gaetano_Prestia
Have you played the beta? What are your thoughts?