It turns out Ubisoft has decided that the world isn’t quite ready for their future vision of warfare just yet, as the French development studio announced this Tuesday that its upcoming Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is to be delayed once again.
The Tom Clancy shooter was scheduled for a UK release on both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 at the end of March, but has now been pushed back a further two months, with a new release date penciled in for the 24th of May.
Imagine walking down your high street to pick up the groceries one bright, sunny day. There’s a spring in your step, the sun is shining and the air is calm and still. You turn the corner, and suddenly everybody on the street pulls out a machine gun and swings it towards you. Even that old lady you helped cross the road is packing heat. You probably wouldn’t even have time to hurl an orange towards the nearest person before they blow you, and your shopping, to pieces.
You can’t be too careful these days – especially in the world of Ghost Recon. There might not be any pensioners waving 9mm pistols in your face, but there’s every chance of an ambush waiting for you around every corner; in every building; down every street. You might have laughed when the Boy Scouts told you that their motto was “be prepared” with the most serious expressions on their chubby little faces, but it’s crucial if you want to survive in this game. Only the speed of your reflexes will tell whether you hit the dirt to avoid fire, or after taking it.
It is this aspect of Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfigher that makes it so enjoyable. Combat situations can arise out of relative calm, and you can’t always be sure where the next attack will come from. When you aren’t shooting, you’re in suspense; moving slowly, constantly alert, waiting for that red diamond to crop up on-screen and pinpoint approaching targets. The adrenaline rush that comes from realising you’ve walked into a trap, then dropping to the floor and rolling behind cover to return fire is what will keep you coming back to this game – especially on the harder modes. The atmosphere flits from stillness to chaos within seconds, and you have to make sure you move to safety before you’re blown away.
If you aren’t blown away by terrorists, however, you probably will be blown away by the spectacular visuals. This is about as close to realism as videogames have reached, and while it isn’t perfect – the odd floating enemy can spoil things slightly, for example – it’s realistic enough to completely draw you into the game world. Everything also sounds fairly authentic, with the possible exception of the weapons – which don’t seem quite meaty or powerful enough. Some of them just give a pathetic little “ratatatat” when fired at an enemy, and while your target will groan and drop to the ground convincingly enough, it takes a lot of the satisfaction out of gunplay. When pointing a gun at a terrorist and pulling the trigger, it feels more like you’re handing out party poppers than dealing damage. As is stands, fighting back against the terrorists isn’t always as exciting as it should be. Maybe the red diamonds that pick them out are part of the reason – there’s no real entertainment value in shooting red diamonds, after all. Overall, the combat feels quite lacking in comparison to the much more accomplished strategic side.
At least, it’s lacking as far as the single player is concerned. When played online, everything’s kicked up a few notches. Knowing there’s an actual person on the other end makes gunning down opponents much more fun, and the wide variety of modes will undoubtedly keep you going for months after completing the single player campaign – a task that won’t exactly be over and done with in an hour.
But while the campaign is entertaining and engrossing enough while it lasts, you always come away from G.R.A.W. feeling a little empty. While the game is often keeps you on your toes and holds your attention (despite the nonsensical plot), it’s missing something that’s quite difficult to pin down – soul. It feels impersonal and almost takes itself too seriously at times. It’s something you experience rather than something you enjoy – in single player at least. You’ll keep returning to it, but you’re never quite sure why. G.R.A.W. is a barrel full of laughs online, but in single player it sometimes feels like a barrel of empty shells. It’s a great game for the moment, but not one you’re going to look back on fondly in two years. Thus, it’s quite difficult to truly recommend the game – unless you really want to pretend to be a big tough army man, you might want to rent it first. But when you go out to do so, think twice before helping that old lady cross the road.