We haven't heard all that much about Ghost Recon: Future Soldier since the last time it got delayed sometime last year. There's no doubt that fans of the series are rather pissed off at the moment, but perhaps we should cut Ubi some slack. From what has been shown, it looks like a very promising premise and more time means more polish. Not to mention, Ghost Recon wasn't really a hit with the mainstream crowd, unlike Call of Duty, but that's just how the game should be. In any case, if Ubi were to release the game during the holiday season this year, not only would it get ripped to shreds from the competition, but it's quite likely that everyone, save for the hardcore, will give the game a pass.
To be honest, I was already fairly skeptical when Future Soldier was first announced. Being a bit of a purist Ghost Recon player, I've never jumped on the bandwagon that is the sci-fi approach seen in the most recent games. The original game is still rather close to my heart, alongside the likes of Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear and Quake Team Arena. But I digress, on a personal level, I'm really hoping that Ubisoft takes Ghost Recon back to how it was before. A thrilling tactical shooter where co-operation and co-ordination is key to success - mind you, not just for the single player campaign, but for online multiplayer as well.
Unlike other shooters on the market, Ghost Recon was never about the high-octane, Hollywood style action. It's a slow, thrilling affair of moving your squad to your objective without being noticed by the enemy. This aspect of the series alone can easily put off many gamers who prefer the more mainstream action games like Call of Duty. Can you imagine yourself leopard crawling 50 feet across an open field where the only cover you have is some patches of grass? No? Well then you've just become fodder for the rest of the players. Of course, since GRAW, the game has become a little less slow, opening itself up to a bigger audience.
The best part of the experience was, of course, the co-op. VIP and Assassination missions were thrilling games of cat and mouse. Hiding was actually a key strategy to victory. There was never any running-and-gunning involved in the original game. Players would actually have to stand relatively still in order to fire off a well-placed headshot. Going from cover to cover back then didn't involve any stick-to-wall mechanics, just simple kneeling and proning. Nevertheless, that's just an old school Red Storm fan going on about how games just aren't the same these days.
What Ubisoft can do with the extra time is simply give the game as much spit shine and polish as humanly possible. Iron out all the bugs, bring the visuals up to snuff and really hammer out the multiplayer options. In all hopes that Future Soldier really is Ghost Recon 4, perhaps fans of the original game will finally get back a taste of how thrilling it is to be a predator stalking and hunting its prey. In addition, adding a deep, compelling customization system to not just weapons, but equipment, gears and rollouts that are more than just superficial makeovers is something that will be greatly appreciated. It certainly was back in the day. Sure, it's cool to unlock a new weapon and some new scopes, but if they don't actually add anything to the gameplay, it all becomes a moot bullet point on a features list.
Considering that the core mechanic revolves around a four-man squad, class based gameplay is incredibly important. Each class needs to be balanced well enough to justify their existence. This extends even to class specific customization options. Regardless of potential complaints that players can't customize to their comfort, four jack-of-all trades isn't going to cut it in a game like Ghost Recon. The extreme tactical nature is what makes it stand out from so many other shooters on the market today and it's about time a game offered something more than just a glorified shooting gallery and destructible environments.
Do I think Ghost Recon stands a chance against mainstream hits like Call of Duty, Halo, or even Battlefield, to a certain extent? Not at all. Ghost Recon's a rather niche affair, not unlike SOCOM and its predecessor, Rainbow Six. It's not Unreal, it's not Quake. In modern terms, it's definitely not Call of Duty. That's exactly how it should be and that's precisely why a delay pass the holiday season is a relatively smart move by Ubi.