Eurogamer Expo 2011: Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier hands-on
The innovation I discovered during my period with Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier was affiliated with the long loading screens, where a black outline of the controller sat on a bright white background. Pressing any of the buttons would be replicated on the onscreen controller, educating the user as to what that button does. This allowed me to verify commands between games if I was unsure what the d-pad did, for example, or how to change orientation. It was a courteous touch, and an example of user accessibility that wasn’t upheld once the multiplayer demo launched.
The loadout screen was locked down to a few selections for the primary weapon and three classes. I selected the engineer class as one of the procurable weapons was a shotgun (always a good test of weapon balance). The game mode pitted two teams of four against one another. The squads spawned at opposing ends of a road, with small shacks on one side and a market on the other. As no one was using squad tactics, it promptly turned into team deathmatch with an objective or two thrown in (of which only myself abided by and completed).
My first surprise was how comparable the movement felt to a game such as Gears of War, rather than a tactical one. Running forward would propel me into cover when I came into contact with a wall or would duck me down into shelter behind a car. The cover was effortless to enter but it was difficult to estimate how much protection it provided; it wasn’t always clear how much of yourself was visible to the enemy. The camera can be flipped between each over-the-shoulder view, which was helpful when pinned down behind a vehicle.
The main objective was to defend a marketplace and then twist our defensive position into attack, moving through the small map to hack intelligence from an enemy computer. These target areas were signposted by shield symbols; most other players remained oblivious to them. Holding down the contextual command would plant an explosive device in the market or hack the enemy’s laptop. The anxious animation – looking over your shoulder and panicking - added to the tension of the objective marker slowly filling up. This sign was visible to both teams, so they immediately knew you were attempting an objective, and how close you were to succeeding.
Motion sensor grenades and a drone were at my disposal as an engineer, and whilst both were neat features, they were of little use as everyone was running and gunning; so I kept to the shotgun. Blue indicators and circles onscreen acted as optical aids to provide that futuristic edge, even if the game did share many attributes with other military shooters. The gadgets may play a larger part during the single-player campaign but were hard to implement here due to the lack of lucidity in what players were meant to be achieving.
The weapons were regular for a military shooter – no fancy attachments or unique weapons were on display – and the lack of a brief introduction to the game mode was a missed opportunity. And unfortunately, I did witness another player activating a partially-invisible cloak and then begin sniping from an elevated point; camping had already begun.
The multiplayer mode I experienced was a solid build, and with some fine-tuning and participants playing together the way the developers intended, it could become tactical enough to stand above the pack. Whilst the single-player is likely to give further coverage to the gadgets and warfare of tomorrow.