With no Rainbow Six game on the immediate horizon, Tom Clancy fans will be happy to know that Ghost Recon: Future Soldier was a big part of Ubisoft’s presentation at E3 this year. The title made a significant appearance at last year’s show, but unfortunately, Ubisoft was not ready to allow the press to play the game on the E3 floor. At the time, that made us wonder if the title could be delayed from its original launch date, which is what ultimately happened. The delay has allowed for major changes to be implemented from the original concept, and this year, we were able to spend some time with the campaign mode.

With the Navy’s SEAL Team Six’s recent celebrity, Ghost Recon could not be releasing at a better time. Sure, the soldiers of Ghost Recon have weaponry that our current fighting forces don’t have access to (or do they?), but the basic premise of tactically taking out enemies before they know what hit them certainly separates the Tom Clancy titles from the Call of Duty and Battlefield series.

Last year’s gameplay footage appeared much more washed out with muted colors than what we played at this year’s show. The previous footage also differed in that it appeared to be more of a single-player game rather than the traditional squad-based format. The main player certainly worked within a unit, but did not seem to have any control over any of the squadmates. Ubisoft apparently changed its mind regarding this setup, as the team-oriented flavor of past Ghost Recon games has now returned. The game will now offer drop-in/drop-out four-player co-op, which should please those who like to play campaigns cooperatively.

We were able to play the exact same combat level shown during Ubisoft’s press conference, which involves the extraction of a prisoner in Nigeria. If you have not yet seen it, we’ve included the video below so you’ll have a point of reference. While watching the video, take note of how precise the four-player squad clears the level:


As you can see, there is a lot of futuristic tech available to your squad and using it effectively will increase your chances of success. Unfortunately, learning how to use that weaponry during a brief playthrough was a bit challenging. For example, in the initial sequence where the squad is in the water and takes out a couple of enemies standing on a pier, my group was immediately spotted and a firefight broke out. This was beneficial in a way, as it allowed me to get a feel for the straight-up gunplay, which is the bread and butter of any good military shooter. Unlike some other mainstream titles, the automatic rifle had a very satisfying kick and burst that felt much more realistic. Aiming on the other hand, was a bit of a struggle at times, but not so much that it took away from the enjoyment of the experience.

It was hard to get a gauge on how difficult an all-out gun battle would be in the full version of the game. In most Tom Clancy titles, you usually cannot absorb much damage before being laid out, yet there was one occasion I had definitely taken more than a couple of bullets, and I was still standing. It’s possible the game was set on easy mode because of the learning curve involved.

The AI of the squad members has been ramped up from the previous titles as they actually knew how to operate on their own, lessening the need for micromanagement. That being said, you can still coordinate with your AI teammates when performing a breach or sniping several targets while camouflaged. Even better, if you play with three of your friends, you can audibly coordinate an attack in real time.

As you can see from the gameplay video, Ghost Recon won’t visually compete with the upcoming Battlefield 3 or Modern Warfare 3 titles, but the graphics are good enough if the gameplay ultimately succeeds. Cutscenes are effectively interspersed among the action to heighten the drama, but not in a way that distracts or takes the player out of the game.

Four-player co-op shooters are pretty popular with the Game Rant staff and what we’ve seen of Ghost Recon has us excited about the possibilities. So many other shooters focus on kill/death ratios and don’t demand much of a team effort to succeed. Hopefully, Ubisoft’s efforts to make Ghost Recon: Future Soldier stand out will pay off for gamers.

Check out more of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier in the gallery below.

Ghost Recon: Future Soldier will release Q1 2012 for the PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.