It has been way too long since we've had a proper Ghost Recon title. Like many other Tom Clancy games, the series originated on the PC and has gone through an evolution thanks to a large console userbase. The latest title, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Future Soldier, further follows the trend of integrating cool gadgetry into your arsenal, making you feel more like a Halo Spartan than a modern fighting machine.
As the franchise has evolved, the game has gotten less and less tactical and more about the action. That said, Future Soldier takes things back in the right direction, providing players with more tactical options provided by the scenarios than Advanced Warfighter 1 and 2 was capable of doing. You are still forced down a mostly linear path for the battles at play, but how you handle them is where your freedom comes.
Taking a cue from Splinter Cell Conviction, Future Soldier has implemented a method of tagging enemies and then synchronizing take downs of said enemies. The co-op implications are obvious, but these can be done in single player giving you control of four soldiers at anytime. Approach a firefight, discover the enemy, tag them and wait for the shot and fire. All four soldiers will take down their targets making for quick work of anything in your path. At times it's pretty obvious the game is gift wrapping this for you - “oh look, there just happens to be 4 guys playing soccer by this truck” - instead of, ya know - 6 or 8. Your drone, once available, plays a huge part here and allows you to get an overhead view of the battlefield as well as tagging enemies for takedowns.
Ghost Recon Future Soldier does an amazing job with pacing and introduction of its gadgets. With so many knick-knacks at your disposal, simply throwing them all at you and saying have fun would never have worked. Instead the first handful of missions gradually give you access to things like the drone, sensor grenades, and various other objects that help you survey the battlefield and deal damage to your enemy. Even in the missions themselves the game reinforces how to use these early on, because later, it becomes absolutely crucial that you do.
It's here that you realize this is still a Ghost Recon game, despite the more action oriented feel to the battles. Standing out in the open gets your ass capped in seconds. Moving between cover is a dangerous affair. You absolutely have to provide cover fire for your team and order them to do the same for you, taking down enemies one at a time and creating space much like a soccer player would challenging multiple defenders to open a passing lane.
While the story is mostly cliche, there are a good variety of missions and locales to keep things interesting. Close quarters combat is mixed with wide open affairs throughout desert, snow, and jungle areas. Ok, so the maps are cliche too. But there is a broken down city level! Damn it. Shanty town! Yeah, it's all here. But it's good, trust me.
One highlight of the campaign is something I described in my E3 preview, these mini-on-rails segments that have you working with your team to escape a scenario. They are adrenaline filled goodness at just the right length, and don't appear too often to make them boring. They break up the pacing just right and are damn fun to boot.