|System: PC, PS3, Xbox 360*|
|Release: May 21, 2012|
|Players: 1-4, Multiplayer Online|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood, Intense Violence, Strong Language|
The campaign is where the game truly attempts to ape Call of Duty. While past entries in the series offered the player control of a squad of troops, to whom one could issue commands, you take second fiddle in Future Soldier. As is the trend these days, you're led from place to place, shooting enemies and watching or engaging in set pieces. It goes so far as to have a chopper gunner segment, in which you take down vehicles on a winding mountain roadway as you fend off other helicopters. It's done well enough, but it feels out of place in what has always been a relatively down to earth series. Every campaign mission, though, feels like it has a right way to play it, like it's heavily scripted around the use of a specific item or skill set, and if you try to play it differently, it throws a fit at you. I found the campaign to be at its best when it provided me with the option of using stealth, but didn't demand it. Using the tools at my disposal to determine enemy positions and setup "sync-shots" was a rush. Fighting in pitched battles, my squad and I on one side and the enemy platoon on the other, was dull and often frustrating.
Some of this frustration comes from the cover controls. It's odd to me, in a game that seems so inspired by Ubisoft's work on the most recent Splinter Cell game, to have thrown out that one's intuitive and simple cover system in favor of a snap-to cover system circa 2005. Sure, you can pick another spot to bolt to with the press of a button as long as you're aiming at it, which is nice, but it makes cover awkward and clunky to navigate instead of smooth and natural.
The plot, meanwhile, is pretty much nonexistent. It's the typical "bad guys are planning to do terrible things to America. Go kill them," and you've seen it a few dozen times before. You'll tour South America, Africa, and Russia—the three traditional hotspots for villainous activity—and see environments that range from jungle to desert, even navigating through a snowstorm (remember the first level of Modern Warfare 2?) There are cinematics between each level, but they seem to get less meaningful as the game goes on, which is a shame since it opens with such a bang.
It isn't a Shock and Awe-scale moment, but when a bomb goes off in the back of a vehicle in South America and knocks your character off a cliff, to which he clings for dear life, it's a little of the same-old, same-old. It isn't until the fire rains down from above, lights his arms up and begins to burn away the flesh as he brushes at it frantically before falling to his demise, radio blaring in his ear the whole while, that the event hits you full force. If Future Soldier had left it there, just gently and subtly referencing it with perhaps a wayward glance at a photograph of the departed or something, it would have been masterful. Instead, it spends the next few minutes pounding it into your head that this is now a mission of revenge, as well as national security. It's blunt and silly, and that really describes the entire game. A popcorn flick of a Tom Clancy game if ever there was one.
Date: May 23, 2012