When it comes to tactical/stealth military shooters, there's not a whole lot of players in the field. In fact, the three main ones are all part of Ubisoft's Tom Clancy's lineup. You've got Ghost Recon, Rainbow Six and Splinter Cell. Recent entries in the Socom series have been mediocre at best, and most of the first person shooter titles don't really fit into this category. It's a style of gameplay that I love, and I'm always kind of looking for my next fix. I'm fascinated by real world military tactics, weapons and gadgets, and getting to play with them in games makes me a happy boy.
Now just to clear something up right away, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is definitely stepping outside of realism a little bit, but it's also definitely not sci-fi. Military tactics are still rooted in reality, and gadgets such as your augmented reality visors, and optic camouflage, are all presented in a way that make them believable as real tech that our armed forces might use in the near future.
I had to wait a little while to get my hands on Future Soldier, as I decided early on I'd go for the PC version of the game, which came out a few weeks later. So while some of you might have already been playing the game on your PS3 or Xbox 360, I've just gotten started, and I'm loving it. So far I've completed the first three missions in the single player campaign. Each mission gradually introduces you to some of the tactics you can use as well as the various tech at your disposal to help you complete the mission.
One of the first mechanics I took note of was the enemy tagging system, which has been ripped straight out of Splinter Cell: Conviction. It works exactly the same way and it works well. You place your cursor over the enemy targets, hit the right button and it marks the target for your team. This allows you to mark up to 4 targets so that you can simultaneously take them out as not to alert any other baddies in the area.
I want to talk about some of the gadgets you get to use in GRFS, because they're pretty cool. The optic camouflage is set up just right. It activates automatically when you are in a crouched position, and shuts down anytime you move too quickly. It also doesn't make you completely invisible, as if you get too close to enemies they'll notice the obvious human shaped mirage floating around and sound the alarm or shoot you. It makes it not too over powered and just useful enough. Also new in Future Soldier are sensor grenades. Throwing one of these bad boys down shows the location of all the enemies in it's range on your HUD as silhouettes, even if they are behind other objects. This assists with differentiating civilian and enemy targets and makes it easier to spot enemies in poor visual conditions. Other gadgets include magnetic optics (which is kind of like a thermal vision for poor visibility) and a radio controlled UAV for spotting enemies from a distance.
The shooting mechanics are pretty much what you would expect, and taking out enemies has a satisfying punch to it. The cover system and different movement options all make for various ways to proceed through the environment. You often have the choice of being stealthy, or blasting your way through, but the game lets you know which one it wants you to try, and in some situations stealth is the only option to complete the mission, which is fine.
I'm not too far into the game, and I haven't played any of the co-op or multiplayer modes yet (I hear they are pretty good), but I'm loving the game so far. The graphics in the game look great, although I'm running the game on a high end PC and I've heard some complaints about textures on console versions. As we near the end of this console generation though, this is going to become more and more common as developers start building their game engines for the next generation.
Are you playing Ghost Recon: Future Soldier? What do you think?