Because some people don't like to read long reviews, I'm going to start putting the Pros and Cons list at the start of the review so people can have a quick reference glance. If you want any more details, they will be in the text below. Thank you.
- Excellent Gameplay
- Great Graphics
- Weapon system looks and feels good
- Varied mission locales and objectives
- Bonus challenges can be challenging and add replay value
- Story is unmemorable
- Guerilla mode is no replacement for terrorist hunt
- AI bugs and technical glitches can detract from the experience
- Stealth sections can be too easy.
I got Future Soldier in Ubisoft's latest sale for about £5, which I thought was a bargain for what I ended up with. I was expecting this game to be a little worse than it was but I was pleasantly surprised.
I will start with a brief view on the story. Being a major Role-player, even in games that weren't built for it, the story of a game is a large factor in the rating. Future Soldier lacks a decent story line. Despite watching all the cutscenes and briefings I had trouble figuring out what exactly the Ghost team were trying to achieve. It started off fairly well with everything making sense then suddenly the team were fighting Russian Terrorists for a cause completely out of the blue. The game detracted from what I was thinking the story was for about 2/3 of the game then shot back to it at the end to round it off. There were a couple of missions I can't even remember why my team was completing the objectives. While I'm sure there is a correlation somewhere between the missions, the plot aspect wasn't very memorable.
The gameplay, however, more than made up for it. The movement was fluid and the cover system was very good. The mechanics of moving between bits of cover was much better than other games that use a similar system such as Gears of War and Mass Effect. The guns felt like they were doing damage most of the time. Sometimes, particularly when the suppressor was on, the gun didn't feel like it had a kick. The guns were varied and looked pretty cool. I really enjoyed the customisation screen. Here, the game strips down the gun into its separate parts and spreads them out, allowing you to see each individual bit that makes the gun work.
The sync shot feature is very useful and pretty satisfying to use as well. This feature allows you to select up to four targets (while out of combat) and gets all your team to set up to take them all out at once. You can either tell them to attack or, if you've lined up 4, aim at the fourth yourself and when you fire, so do they. Time also slows down so if there are five guys you have a chance at taking out the fifth too.
The checkpoint system the game uses is among the better ones that I've used. It always manages to save at just the right time. Sometimes, I've managed to skip enemies because the checkpoint somehow saved to the point after them, which some may consider a problem. Sometimes, it's a little too good and when trying to get some of the bonus objectives in the mission I've missed them because reverting to checkpoint put me in at the end of the section I just did and therefore forcing me to start the level again to attempt the objective again.
The mission variety is good. There are a lot of varied locations including a desert camp in Africa, an an urban centre in Palestine, shanty towns, blizzard filled Siberia and woodland in Russia. The objectives are usually pretty good and offer a range of elements such as capture, eavesdrop, stealth, assassination, search and destroy and defend. Each mission has a number of bonus challenges that carry across all playthroughs. There is a weapons challenge where you need to get a certain number of kills with a certain type of weapon in a timeframe, eg. Kill 3 enemies with a shotgun in 3 minutes using only 3 shots. These challenges unlock certain guns, although I've found that they sometimes unlock the best gun for dealing with the challenge which kind of makes them a bit obsolete. There are also 3 tactical challenges which range from the easy Kill all these dudes without being seen to sprint through this warzone without dying or killing any civies in 60 secs.
These features make up the larger part of the game in the single player campaign. As a rule, I generally don't rate the multiplayer unless it particularly makes an impression on me so I've not included that here. Also, I've not played it as of the time of writing. Besides the Single player and Multiplayer features there is also a guerilla mode which is basically your standard 50 wave defend the HQ game mode. This mode is most famous as Horde mode from Gears of War or Firefight from the Halo series. However, if this is a game mode that you would like to play then I would recommend those other games first. This guerilla mode is relentless, especially if you try and do it solo, and I've not even made it past wave 3 or 4. This mode is best attempted with at least another player to help you. However, even with other players I can see this game mode not being brilliant. Why they removed the popular Terrorist Hunt from the previous games which would have added much more replay value than this guerilla mode is beyond me and maybe why this game didn't do as well as it could have. If the terrorist hunt was added then my rating for this game could go up to 8 or even 9.
There are a couple of bugs in the game that have disrupted gameplay. I've completed nearly 2 run through's of the single player story and in nearly every 3rd mission I encounter a glitch which seems to prevent the mission from progressing. This could be the helicopters not showing up when extracting or a door not opening. This can be really frustrating and while a revert to checkpoint seems to fix it, this issue shouldn't really be present. There's also a couple of problems with the AI being ultra observant when it comes to dead bodies, like seeing them through a building with about 5 rooms, but as blind as a mole when it comes to seeing a semi-transparent team of soldiers walk right past them. This issue isn't huge but can detract from the experience and can often remove the challenge in stealth as in places it seems like you just walk in there and set up the sync shots and get through really quickly and without fuss. There's always just enough guys to be taken out by one or two well timed sync shots that didn't require much to set up. Only a couple of places did they require strategy in the execution of the sync shots.