The first Ghost Recon game debuted in the fall of 2001 as a “tactical shooter,” as a more military-themed version of Rainbow Six which at the time, was also known for being a “tactical shooter” franchise for Red Storm Entertainment – and eventually, Ubisoft. With each iteration since – in both franchises – the “tactical” has been more or less dropped in favor of “action” and that’s due to the shift to console gaming.
Gone are the pre-mission planning and in-game precision and in are the cover system, third-person perspective gameplay and tech that crosses the line of science fiction, and the upcoming Ghost Recon: Future Soldier takes all of that to the next level, so much so, that it can be considered a “reboot.” But is that what’s best for the franchise?
The Ghost Recon series hasn’t seen a new installment since 2007 with Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2, as Ubisoft pushed focus onto Splinter Cell and moreso to Assassin’s Creed. Future Soldier, previously known as Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon 4, was initially meant to release back in the 2009-10 fiscal year but instead saw four delays which now sees the game releasing in the first quarter of 2012.
The latest delay is likely due to the strong competition this fall release schedule will offer from Modern Warfare 3, Rage, Gears of War 3, Battlefield 3 and even non-shooters such as Batman: Arkham City and Ubisoft’s own Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, combined with the fact that Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is implementing Kinect functionality.
But like Mass Effect 3 – a game that also was delayed into Q1 2012, also adding Kinect – Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is a game that that brings into question what genre the series is meant to be.
Where Mass Effect 3 dropped many of its core RPG elements in favor of a playstyle that attempts to mimic Gears of War 3, Future Soldier does the same in dropping its first-person tactical shooter roots for a third-person experience with a squad of soldiers wielding the most advanced weapons and technology the series has seen to date. But why? It’s because the market demands it, according to associate producer Thomas Leroux. In speaking to VG247 at Gamescom last week, Leroux had the following to say about the direction of the Ghost Recon franchise:
“What we wanted to do is when we finished working [on GRAW], we took a look at the markets, at the games that were out, the military shooters and simply, the whole thing has changed for many reasons. Competition, but also, the way players play basically… One of the things was to say, ‘We wanted to stick to the special forces fantasy, we want to stick to that near-future technology, but we want to make sure it doesn’t feel outdated with the new controls, the new ways of playing.’ So the reboot was a way for us to make sure we stick to the route of the game in the Ghost Recon franchise, but make it a little more modern, more slick compared to the others.”
We can infer from Leroux’s words that he’s referring to the market demands for Call of Duty-esque high-paced action titles, instead of slower-paced tactical sims which Ghost Recon used to be. How will that fare with existing fans? Some will not be pleased, especially PC gamers, but we can understand Ubisoft’s goal in aiming to offer something entirely new both for the franchise and for the market, not only in its playstyle, but in the futuristic setting which introduces new blockbuster video game gameplay elements like robots, the ability to cloak and shoulder-mounted rocket launches straight out of the Iron Man movies.
It’s not usually good to see key aspects that define the franchise be stripped away, but that’s not to say that Future Soldier won’t be a great game. The visuals (check out the latest Ghost Recon: Future Soldier screenshots), setting and four player co-op all look very promising so far and we at Game Rant can’t wait to jump into it. We’re just not sure this game needed to be galled “Ghost Recon” although we understand the brand recognition to help sell the franchise as well as help market the upcoming Ghost Recon film which Ubisoft Motion Pictures is in early pre-production on.
What are your thoughts on the upcoming Ghost Recon?
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier releases March 2012 for PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PSP and Wii U.
Follow me on Twitter @rob_keyes.