Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier
PS3 (Review Copy) Xbox 360, PC
Hmm, another third-person shooter. Let's go down the checklist, shall we? Cover mechanic? Check. Regenerating health? Check. Gameplay requiring intelligence and forethought so that sometimes the best option is to just avoid the enemy instead of splattering them? Che—WAITAMINIT... HOW DID THIS GET IN HERE? To those who are familiar with the Ghost Recon series, this isn't anything new, but in a genre that constantly embraces mindless carnage, the eponymous Ghost squad fades into the background and silently gets its job done, just the way we like it.
The squad-based campaign circles around the point that your team is outmanned and outgunned. So in order to accomplish your objectives you'll have to stick to the shadows, staying out of sight while you pick your enemies off – or oftentimes, just slipping through without them even knowing you were there. That's a tall affair, so it's a good thing that you've got a bunch of nice toys. On top of the in-development-but-not-yet-a-real-thing-in-real-life adaptive camouflage, you have other tools at your disposal. Sensor grenades and a tiny UAV style drone help you not only see your enemies, but also plan your actions based on their placement and patrol routes. It's here where the coolest part of the single-player mode comes into play. Either through sight or through your drone, you can mark up to four enemies, and when your team has drawn a clear bead, you synchronize your kill shots, taking everyone out at once. It's a completely satisfying feeling when your team quickly clears out the area in one fell swoop. The good comes with the bad though, because if you opt to mark your enemies by eye, you run into Ghost Recon's biggest problem. The control scheme is a little weird, with two different zoom options (the first-person zoom is a completely different button from the third-person zoom). Play a while and you get used to it, but at first it's pretty weird and off-putting. The campaign also stumbles slightly when it tries to add in different wrinkles, such as a walker-style war machine that just turns the mission into a mortar drop. Fun, but a little out of place.
The online mode – while a fun romp – does eschew a little of the stealth play for more straight action, but not to the point where one would feel they're two different games. Though online, it can sometimes be difficult to find players that actually conform to the team dynamic. That's not Ghost Recon's fault, but it's at least worth noting.
To its end, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier takes the standard third-person shooter genre and adds elements of stealth to make an interesting and solidly paced experience. A few slight hiccups keep it from greatness, but the overall experience is worth the price of admission. | RDW
Xbox 360 (Review Copy) PS3
Dragon's Dogma is an interesting idea, with an interesting party system to add to a competent level-grinder. Even if the story isn't particularly interesting, the combat system works well, and the quests themselves offer a wide enough variety and challenge to keep the grind going. And at the end of the day, that's a fair enough payoff for the time expected to play through this. | RDW
Xbox 360 (Review Copy) PS3
Davis Russell is your typical hot-headed cop. Wife, family and two days away from retirement. Okay, I'm kidding about that last one, but one does get the feeling that he is indeed too old for this shit. A normal day is wrecked when the Lutadores (coming straight from the Thunderdome) arrive, toting futuristic, gravity-defying weapons. Suffice it to say, Russell and his partner Leo Delgado are going to eventually get their hands on this tech and shoot the shit out of the bad guys. I'd talk more about the fact that the Lutadores have killed Russell's wife, and his child is nowhere to be found – but truthfully? The voice acting is so bad, and the plot so choppy, all that really matters is guns. Boom. Floating. Boom.
Nothing really stands out about Inversion other than how utterly pedestrian it is. The controls function, just not as smoothly as others. The shooting mechanics work, except when they don't – like when a completely unneeded item obstructs your vision for no reason, or when the sniper zoom doesn't reset the way one would expect. Even the gravity aspect feels tired (although the promise was there). It's not all bad though. There are solid points to be found. Inversion offers a good challenge, and the cover mechanic works well. It's just not enough. Inversion may not be terrible, but the third-person shooter genre is stacked, and you've gotta do better than this to survive. |RDW