As you boot up Ghost Recon Future Soldier for the first time, it’s obvious the guys at Ubisoft have evolved the franchise (or at least the multiplayer bit) into something more fast paced, inspired by games like Gears of War and Call of Duty. Now that change is fine by me but traditional Ghost Recon fans may get a bit put off by the fast paced action.
The beta offers players two modes to dabble in across two pretty diverse maps. You have Conflict, an objective-based take on traditional Team Deathmatch and Sabotage, a game mode in which each team has to secure an explosive device and then successfully plant and detonate it in the opposition’s base. Even though this was a beta I was pretty impressed with the fact that I could join games easily. Unfortunately nearly every game I joined was plagued by heavy lag. Now I’m not sure if this was an issue on their server side as they weren’t prepared for the load or if this was my connection acting up but in every match I played, there was significant bullet lag and choppy movement.
You'll never take me alive
The demo offers players three classes to try out – Rifleman, Engineer and Scout. The Rifleman is obviously your frontline defense capable of obliterating enemy presence with assault rifles and light machine guns. The Engineer on the other hand can deploy a UAV device and pin-point enemy locations to the rest of the team. The Scout is more proficient with long ranged weapons and can even turn invisible for a brief period of time. Now even though this game may seem like it offers run-and-gun gameplay, which by the way it does, co-ordination is still very important to succeed. Take Conflict for example; in this game mode you could rack up a good kill/death ratio but unless your team completes the objectives, you will lose the round.
Yup, he's dead all right
If you’ve played any third person cover based shooter in the past year, you’ll be at ease with GRFS’s control scheme. However I do wish Ubisoft had included a tutorial in the beta because it just sort of throws you in the deep end without a paddle and expects you to swim. But play a few rounds and you’ll learn the lay of the land. You’ll also learn very fast that cover is your best friend because this game does carry the infamous Ghost Recon trait of killing you very easily. Unlike most shooters where your character is capable of absorbing a lot of damage, bullets in Ghost Recon feel more lethal keeping the tactical vibe of this game partially alive. Cover in GRFS thankfully is highly responsive and moving from cover to cover feels and looks fluid. The game even allows you to switch to a first person perspective if that’s your thing but I really don’t recommend it unless you’re sniping. It definitely feels a bit clunky.
The beta also gives players a taste of Gunsmith, a new feature added into this game that allows you to customize your weapon like never before. Upon entering the Gunsmith menu, players can virtually take their guns apart and tool with every aspect of a weapon from muzzles to triggers and everything in-between. You can then take your prized possession and try it out on the firing range before you use it in combat. Very cool!
Can we hurry this up? I hate getting these shoes wet
A few issues aside, I quite enjoyed GRFS’s multiplayer. It takes the conventional Ghost Recon formula, slaps it on with some fast-paced gameplay, a progression system and an in-depth weapon customization tool to create a game that could appeal to fans of the series as well as newcomers weaned off Call of Duty. This being a beta, I did encounter some noticeable lag issues but hopefully all that will be ironed out when GRFS ships for the Xbox360 and PS3 by the 25th of May 2012.