While I enjoy fast-paced shooters like "Call of Duty" as much as the next guy, sometimes I like to take things a little slower. The ability to sit back, survey the battlefield, design a strategy and execute it to perfection has always appealed to me as much, if not more, than simply running around a warzone shooting random people in the face.
The latest entry in Ubisoft's "Ghost Recon" franchise, "Future Soldier," allows me to do both, providing a healthy dose of strategy while still offering plenty of white-knuckle action and more than a few memorable sequences.
As the name implies, "Ghost Recon: Future Soldier" takes place in the near-future but the conflict that drives the campaign is grounded in today's reality. After a mission goes wrong and results in the death of the original Ghosts, a new team is called into action to track down those responsible. Along the way you'll visit familiar hotspots like Afghanistan, Russia and Somalia as you duck in and out of cover and tag enemies for your squad mates to take down.
The cover-based gameplay on display in "Future Soldier" is pretty close to perfect. Whether you're moving between cover to flank an enemy position or sticking to cover in your adaptive-camo suit in order to avoid being detected, the system is intuitive and works flawlessly. Not once did I get stuck on the wrong side of a wall or otherwise put into a vulnerable position because the game misinterpreted my desired action when it came to choosing a cover position. Even my AI-controlled mates made excellent use of cover on their own - something many squad-based games struggle with.
In fact, the AI is nothing short of brilliant for the most part, consistently providing support and calling out enemies without placing themselves in harm's way. Highlighting enemies allows you to tag them for your fellow Ghosts to take down with synchronized shots, which is helpful when trying to avoid raising an alarm (something that can result in the failure of some missions). While the AI is more than merely competent, it isn't a crutch to carry you through the game's 10-plus hour campaign. You'll still need to pull your own weight or else your team will be overrun or, worse yet, KIA.
When you're not sneaking into military installations or engaging in sniping duels atop high-rise buildings, "Ghost Recon: Future Soldier" tosses you into attack choppers to rain down death from above. These sections of the game are sparse and spaced out enough so as to not feel forced. Instead, I found it a fun change of pace.
Playing on normal difficulty is a challenge, but jumping up a level or two makes the experience especially tough. Luckily the entire campaign can be completed with friends via co-op, which is highly recommended.
In addition to co-op in the campaign, "Future Soldier" offers a handful of competitive objective-based multiplayer modes that put an emphasis on teamwork and communication. While I had fun online, your success is entirely dependent on being able to find a solid group of friends to play with. I enjoyed the class-based setup and tweaking my loadout for each different game type. The Horde-esque Guerilla Mode was a nice change of pace, but those looking for the best multiplayer experience should stick to the campaign or competitive options.