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Ghost Recon: Has the series changed for better or worse?

After six years, during which eight games and expansions were released, the Ghost Recon series sort of disappeared. We haven't gotten a new entry since early 2007, and in an age when most sequels are pushed out annually or biennially at the slowest, that's unusual.

Now, however, I understand why. Ubisoft, clearly not content to repeat the same formula over and over, has transformed Ghost Recon into a very different experience. The live-action trailer gave you a hint of what to expect, but having witnessed the actual game in action last week, I can go into much more detail.

Here is exactly what's been changed, as well as why these changes could be perfect (or not-so-perfect) for the future of the franchise.


The technology is truly futuristic

Why this should be good: Slightly sci-fi gadgetry is what set the last two Ghost Recon games, Advanced Warfighter 1 and 2, apart from their competition. You had a fancy eyepiece that laid recon and targeting information onto the world surrounding you. You had a remote control robot that delivered weapons and could act as cover when necessary. You had an aerial spy vehicle that provided a bird's eye view of the battlefield.

Future Soldier takes that technology to the extreme, adding turrets to the ground drone and direct steering to the air drone. What's really exciting, however, are the brand new gadgets. Like a shoulder-mounted rocket launcher that can fire independently of your aim. Like an electromagnetic shield that can negate incoming enemy fire. Like a special camouflage that can, through the use of senses-deceiving miniature cameras located all over the body, make you more or less invisible. I can't wait to test out this stuff for myself.

Why this could be bad: The toys in GRAW 1 and 2 felt forward-looking, but not fictional… and you still felt as if you were playing a relatively realistic military shooter, not another Halo. Future Soldier might be dangerously skirting that line, though the developers promise to stick only with technology that could exist in 10-15 years.


Your soldier is superheroic

Why this should be good: Future Soldier's enhanced Ghost squad has more than cool offensive gadgetry at their disposal – each member is also outfitted with an armored exoskeleton that enables them to carry all that weight into combat while still maintaining an almost superhuman speed and agility. And since each has also been trained in the martial arts, that freedom definitely comes in handy.

How does this translate into gameplay? Basically, you have brute strength as well as technological strength. You can turn invisible, sneak up on a unsuspecting enemy and take him down with a bone-breaking grappling strike inspired by Krav Maga, the self-defense system taught to Israeli commandos. You can drive your drones from the protection of cover, but a second later you can vault over that cover and roadie run across the level with ease.

In other words, Future Soldier combines the strategic planning from previous Ghost Recon games with the fast and frantic combat of shooters like Modern Warfare and Gears of War. Prefer one to the other? Here, you'll get both.

Why this could be bad: Unless, of course, Future Soldier concentrates too much on the new style and ends up neglecting the old style… you know, the style that made the franchise so popular to begin with. While the very existence of something like an invisibility suit implies that cautious reconnaissance will still be important, most of the gameplay I watched during my demo was of the fire-and-forget variety. Further demos should shed light on this.

13 comments

  • Hobogonigal - August 17, 2010 9:02 a.m.

    Everyone keeps saying this is an FPS (first-person shooter) but I saw a gameplay trailer and it was in third-person like in GRAW 1&2. Is Future Soldier in first person, third-person or can you select both like GRAW 1&2 did?
  • MyGameName - April 14, 2010 9:39 p.m.

    When you said that people only want to play a certain class, it reminded me of Resistance 2 Co-Op. Either I'm the only person playing Medic, or I'm the only person playing Spec-Ops. People need to play all the classes, especially when they have abilities that complement each other
  • centrip - April 14, 2010 2:47 p.m.

    I was realy dissappointed with GRAWs, the original strengths of the series were all about sneaking up on your foe, building up coverage of the map then striking in the right order with your team. You could use riflemen and snipers to funnel the enemy on to your heavy gunner - real tactics (in what at the time, felt like enormous expansive maps). HL, GOW, COD etc have the one man army nailed down. The best games give us limitations, not a car sized mech with twin linked chain guns! That's for cheat mode!
  • Skykid - April 13, 2010 9:35 p.m.

    Wow, this article is too deep to express in words... Yeah, I'm not a deep thinker.
  • drunkenfish - April 13, 2010 9:12 p.m.

    It seems like a lot of franchises are doing reboots. Or maybe its just Tom Clancy games.
  • jmcgrotty - April 13, 2010 6:16 a.m.

    This is the stupidest article in years. This is a FPS and by definition is unplayable crap.
  • leprechaun - April 13, 2010 5:45 a.m.

    This is definitely going to be a great year for FPS and fans of military combat games for sure
  • leprechaun - April 13, 2010 5:40 a.m.

    I've played GRAW 1 and 2 and they were both great games but the fact that this one is a little more in depth with futuristic weapons and fast paced action definitely makes it sound like a halo/M.W. 2 mix and I'm not much of a halo fan and Modern Warfare 2 was a pretty awesome game but the fact that it requires tactics along with the use of some badass gadgets and guns while delivering an intense action experience sounds f***ing awesome to me
  • xSTARMANx - April 12, 2010 8:41 p.m.

    and also the new medal of honor lol im a spoiled fps fan
  • xSTARMANx - April 12, 2010 8:37 p.m.

    hmm looks pretty good i never played any GRAW game but i might get this along with halo reach,crysis 2, and the next COD
  • infestedandy - April 12, 2010 4:45 p.m.

    I never played GRAW 2, but I had a good time with the first one for sure. Perhaps they fixed a lot of the issues from GRAW but I remember absolutely hating how the multiplayer was set up. There were constant disconnects and sometimes it would take FOREVER to get a room going.
  • mrlias - April 12, 2010 4:32 p.m.

    Hmmm
  • michaelwhitty - April 12, 2010 4:08 p.m.

    I'm a avid Ghost Recon fan and i'm scared for my love of the franchise with future soldier. I loved GRAW 1 and GRAW 2 on both formats but they were still a shadow on the original. The online community for the first one was amazing! Mods are still being released today... Compare that to the community of GRAW 1 and 2 on pc and it's a shame. I hope Ubisoft return the series to its former glory!

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