When I first heard that there was a new Ghost Recon being released, I got very excited. I have very fond memories with the original GRAW (Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter). Spending many a late night playing multiplayer as a team with my new online buddies left me with some of the most satisfying shooter experiences I have to date.
For those who don't know Ghost Recon Future Soldier is a third person cover based shooter from Ubisoft due for release in May 2012.
Here at AG we have been lucky to be able to get access to the multiplayer beta for Ghost Recon Future Soldier. As soon as it had downloaded I jumped right in (with a few other on my friends list), and after a few friendly fire flash bangs I soon got used to the controls and I felt like a teenager again. Because a lot of the beta multiplayer reminded me of the good old days of GRAW, where playing as a team counted for something, and sprinting around and mindlessly shooting everything that moved doesn't always work (yes that was a COD jab, there may be more to come).
The game controls well. Moving smoothly from cover to cover feels right and looks great. There is nothing revolutionary about the control system, so anyone who has played third person cover based games in the past (I'm looking at you Gears fans) will feel right at home here. The quickest way to move around is to move from one cover to another (nicely shown by a yellow arrow) so getting used to that is imperative.
The beta offers one game type, two maps, three different classes (with 3 unlockables) and lots of the AWESOME gunsmith. Conflict is the game that's available. And it's a capture and defend game mode, seeing 2 teams (Team Ghost + Team Bodark) pit their wits against each other trying to secure different areas of the map. The first map on show is Mill. A gloomy looking map that is set in a rundown village split by bridges in the middle, with fighting happening in graveyards, wide open areas and buildings. Pipeline is set in a built up desert area with a lot of close quarter combat in alleys between buildings. Both maps feel quite balanced, allowing long ranged shooting to blend in with players who prefer the up close and personal approach.
While I had a bit of a go at all three characters, I found myself chooses the scout more often than not. I think this was mostly down to me wanting to watch the optical camo, which activates when you are motionless. But I enjoyed the stealthy approach that came with having a sniper and camo. The scout also comes with an SMG (sub machine gun) option. Next up we have the engineers who use Shotguns and Personal Defense rifles; they also have a 'scope detector' which provides the player with a warning when enemies are scoped in and aiming at them. And lastly is the rifleman, who comes with improved armor to sustain more hits to the torso. They use light machine guns (LMG's) and assault rifles. There are 3 unlockable classes which unlock after you progress to level 50 3 times (once for each character).
The beta provides a look at the customization that the game will provide, allowing you to alter appearance and loadout. As standard different items of customization unlock as you progress through the levels. The loadout give you access to loads of different grenades (frag, emp, smoke, flash, sensor, decoy, and incendiary) and equipment (camera, ammo box, med kit, jammer, uav, field computer, sentry, ucav, claymore, stun, augmented camo) which differ depending on character.
If that wasn't enough the gun customization is where this game comes into its own with gunsmith. Unless you get to fiddle around with this I cannot express how brilliant and satisfying it is to assemble and disassemble your guns seeing all the parts flying apart and back together again. And the sheer level of customization on a gun is mind boggling. The barrel, muzzle, magazine, optics, trigger and many more can be altered to tweak the gun to fit you best. And with the option of the firing range, I can see a lot of my game time will be put into playing around with the guns when the game is released.
Being a beta I was expecting some niggles to annoy me. And there was surprisingly few. I found that sometime I could should through a fence and other times I couldn't, and sometimes my shots weren't registering (but that may be down to me wildly shooting at times :P). While playing with a friend we seemed to find that Team Ghost seemed to be a slight bit closer to objectives that Team Bodark, giving them a bit of an advantage. So I'm hoping that these will be fixed/be less obvious when the full game is released. Graphically the game is looking lovely at the moment, and would be happy for the full release to look the same.
The main gripe I have with the beta is the other players. The levels of frustration I found myself having while playing with randoms when everyone ran off in opposite direction trying to rack up kills was unbelievable. I'm hoping this will die down a bit time and people will be more willing to work as a team, because it is impossible for one person to carry a team on the objective based games. And the sooner the COD fanboys see that the better (oops, there was another jab). It's for this reason that I will hopefully be playing the majority of my time online with other in a party chat. Because when I was playing with a group the game was superb. Two people overlooking an objective with snipers as other run in to capture while the snipers provide cover is immensely satisfying; as is throwing a sensor grenade into an area of hidden enemies to reveal their location while the rest of the team runs in to clear them out (very annoying on the receiving end though!)
To conclude, this beta has gotten me even more excited for Future Soldier. I'm hoping that single player mode will be just as strong as the multiplayer, and if it is, this could easily be my game of 2012, and my favourite shooter for a long while.