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

Why this should be good: Do you really want to visit Mexico again? Both GRAW games took place there, and though the developers did an admirable job of squeezing diverse environments out of a single country, I'm ready to move on. No more ciudades. No more deserts. No more generic Spanish music tinkling away in the background.

Future Soldier transports the action to Europe instead, where you'll fight through the snowy fjords of Norway, the dark forests of Russia and the crowded metropolises of the former Eastern Bloc. You'll still be defending an important politician for part of the game – this time, the Russian president, a victim of an attempted assassination – but Future Soldier will tell its story in a more direct way, sometimes placing you in the vulnerable shoes of non-Ghost characters like a presidential bodyguard, a frightened citizen escaping his city's invasion or an engineer at a power plant attacked by terrorists.

In GRAW and GRAW 2, the story was told at a distance, through video feed from your commanders. In Future Soldier, the story will unfold around you.

Why this could be bad: Eastern European settings? Russian politics? Unexpected side missions in which you play, for a few minutes, as protagonists you'd never expect? This sounds an awful lot like the Modern Warfare formula to me… hopefully, Ghost Recon will provide enough of that futuristic, squad-based twist to stand apart.

Multiplayer emphasizes teamwork

Why this should be good: Future Soldier contains four classes. The Commandos are the ones with the shoulder rockets and heaviest weaponry. The Recons are the ones with the invisibility cloaks, heartbeat sensors and other stealth devices. The Engineers are the ones with the EMP shields and air drones. The Snipers are the ones with the, well, sniper rifles.

During the single-player campaign, the main protagonist will cycle through all of these classes. During the multiplayer, however, you must choose… though that doesn't limit your power as much as you might assume. Link up with your squad during matches and you'll share skills. A Recon linked to a Commando can make both invisible, while a Sniper linked to an Engineer can transfer his target information and make hunting with the air drone easier.

Working together isn't merely an idea, either – it's a tangible action with a button assignment. Get close to your teammate and hit LB or L1 and the "Link Up" is locked in. One player will control the movement of the squad, trailing the rest of the players behind him or her automatically. Which means they're freed to concentrate on shooting or whatever other tricks they have at their disposal.

Why this could be bad: First, everyone might want to play the Commando and Recon classes, leaving Engineers and Snipers woefully underrepresented. Second, getting dragged behind a leader might grow boring. If he's peeking around a corner to fire at enemies, you're fully stuck behind that corner with nothing too action-oriented to keep you engaged. Luckily, you're always free to unlink and go your own way… just prepare to lose the extra powers in doing so.

Apr 12, 2010

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