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Critical Reception: Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier

This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to squad-based shooter Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, which reviews describe as "delicately beautiful even as it delivers brutal thrills."
This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Ubisoft's squad-based shooter Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, which reviews describe as "delicately beautiful even as it delivers brutal thrills." Future Soldier currently earns a score of 80 out of 100 at Metacritic.com. Ryan McCaffrey at Official Xbox Magazine scores Future Soldier at 9 out of 10. "Tom Clancy siblings Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six have always had a complementary, yin/yang relationship," he explains. "After the explosive urban combat of the two GRAW games, Future Soldier [...] gets the franchise back to its hushed roots -- reminding us why we loved it so much in the first place." "Future Soldier is a true stealth game...a breath of fresh air in the increasingly loud third-person-shooter genre," McCaffrey continues. "It works in large part because the buddy A.I. is so good -- only once did we see a friendly Ghost get hung up on something and fail to do his job." The "tagging" mechanics prove particularly satisfying. "Tagging up to four foes with RB is lifted straight from Rainbow, but here it's implemented so that it plays to Recon's strengths," McCaffrey notes. "As soon as you mark a bad guy, one of your A.I.-controlled Ghost teammates will automatically move to line up a clear shot on your target. When the tag turns blue, you'll know he's ready to fire." "Future Soldier's campaign does lose its stealthy way a bit right at the end, and the presentation can be rough at times, just like the throwaway plot," McCaffrey admits. "Ultimately, though, the game shines not only for staying true to Ghost Recon's roots, but also for doing so while successfully balancing the memories of old fans with the modern expectations of new ones." Edge Magazine gives Future Soldier an 8 out of 10. "Ghost Recon: Future Soldier's journey through development parallels that of fellow Tom Clancy and Ubisoft stablemate Splinter Cell: Conviction," the review notes. "Both games debuted to the press and public in a form vastly different to their final product, and both ultimately put fresh spins on the established mechanics of their respective long-running series. "There's even some shared gameplay DNA, with Future Soldier's Ghosts employing Sam Fisher's room-clearing takedowns, branded as Sync Shots here. It's a team effort rather than a one-man special attack, though, upping the pace and offering gung-ho players some fistbumping moments of glorified death." "Elsewhere, Ubisoft's other tweaks to the formula streamline the singleplayer game." Edge recalls. "Generally, your three AI squadmates mirror how you play – they crouch and go prone as a unit, open fire when spotted, and regularly save your fragile life as they flank and face down the opposition. This is a diluted Ghost Recon, then, at once punchier and less strategic than Advanced Warfighter." "Future Soldier exemplifies a developer honouring the ‘fun first' ethos of its publisher's canon, even as it stays true to the seriousness of its espionage licence," Edge's reviewer writes. "Yes, it's lost some tactical edge, but a disciplined commitment to entertainment focuses the experience. In the overmasculine world of the thirdperson shooter, this is a game that stands out for being delicately beautiful even as it delivers brutal thrills." Game Informer's Matt Bertz rates Future Soldier at 7.5 out of 10. "In the five years since Advanced Warfighter 2 shipped, Battlefield has entrenched itself as a major contender in the console space and Call of Duty took over the world," he begins. "The Ghosts have a lot of catching up to do to stay relevant in the hyper-competitive military shooter genre, but after a troubled development and several delays, this Future Soldier looks more like a military game of the past." Bertz reports that the single-player campaign is uneven. "Ubisoft occasionally diverts from sandbox levels to mix up the action, but the majority of these sequences falter due to their overreliance on genre cliches like corridor-based level designs and mandatory gun turret sequences," he writes. "I'd rather spend my time trying to master the micro sandbox puzzles than performing Rainbow Six-style breaches, VIP escort, and stealth follow missions." The multiplayer component is a highlight, however. "Multiplayer has always been a big draw for the Tom Clancy shooters, and Future Soldier preserves that legacy with a robust suite featuring five competitive game modes, class-based progression systems, highly customizable weapons, and a Horde-like mode called Guerrilla," Bertz describes. "Most of the modes are boilerplate, but I enjoyed Conflict mode, a timed competition that rotates the location of objectives throughout the map." "Tom Clancy shooters have always drawn in military enthusiasts, but after a five-year hiatus Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is facing a much different battlefield," Bertz concludes. "The co-op and competitive multiplayer offer adequate experiences, but the aged graphics, unrefined controls, and cliche-ridden campaign betray the Future Soldier premise and compromise the game's ability to compete with more technologically refined shooters."

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