Today’s battlefields, it seems, are teeming with the kind of wizardry that video games have enabled players to use for years. Invisibility, X-ray vision, and miniature floating cameras are modern marvels that have long since become familiar, but Future Soldier’s appeal doesn’t rely on novelty. Stealthy action and streamlined teamwork blend to create an enjoyable and lengthy campaign, and lively competitive multiplayer modes provide extra enticement. Unfortunately, the online elements of Future Soldier are riddled with network problems that make connecting to and staying in a game difficult. Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is a robust package with plenty of satisfying ways to exercise your itchy trigger finger, but it requires a lot of patience if you want to do anything other than play by yourself.
In the campaign, you play as the ghosts, a four-man team of elite soldiers. Cutscenes and mid-mission dialogue combine to create a nice sense of camaraderie among the crew, and hackneyed archetypes are downplayed in favor of more understated characterization. Personalities are colored in during small moments, like a song streaming out of earbuds, a fleeting facial expression, and a conversation about used trucks. Interactions with other military personnel reveal how isolated the ghosts are from the soldiers they break bread with and how oblivious those soldiers are to this fact. This segregation creates a connection among the ghosts that is a refreshing change from the familiar “bonds forged on the crucible of combat” trope.
On the field of battle, the ghosts try to emulate their namesakes, moving silently with the aid of slick optical camouflage that dissolves if you jog, sprint, or fire your weapon. Staying stealthy is often a mission requirement, and even when it isn’t, avoiding detection gives you a distinct advantage. It’s easy to maneuver unseen, and you spend a lot of time silently eliminating foes. Stealth melee kills and suppressed weapons are your basic tools, but the key mechanic is the sync shot. Spotting enemies through your scope or tagging them from aloft with your aerial drone, you can designate up to four targets for you and your squad to eliminate in one fell swoop. To execute, simply open fire on your own target, or issue the command with a press of the Q key (or right bumper if you are using a compatible gamepad).