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Ghost Recon: Future Soldier - A re-imagined, rearmed revolution?

Stepping into the future with Ubisoft's latest shooter...

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There are sonar grenades - tossed in before you enter a room to give you the position of everyone inside - and Thermal, Night, and Magnetic vision modes to see threats in dark or dusty conditions.

"We want the player to feel intel is important," says Oriola. "Intel isn't only the stuff on the mini-map; it's something you will see in 3D, in your augmented reality, it's the position and the shape of your enemy. With intel, a player will know where enemies are, what they're doing, and where they're looking. You can pop a grenade, go to cover and prepare an ambush, tag them and get your teammate to shoot them... A player with intel is as powerful as three without. But it's something you need to earn and work for."

"We wanted to keep the tactical depth of GRAW but we wanted to have more diverse situations," adds Couzian. "We wanted players to play how they want... everybody says that, but we really mean it!"

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ARMY OF FOUR
Forming up, the Ghost Lead deploys his UAV - not a heavyweight mini-copter like the one deployed on the streets of New Mexico in Advanced Warfighter, but an agile tricopter the Ghosts can deploy and recover at will, clipping it to their belts when not in use.

The UAV is small but its three whirring motors make it loud, so when stealth is essential it can land and crawl on four retractable wheels, scooting along pipes and zipping down vents. From a high pipe the UAV peers into a tatty tin shack where it sights four soldiers and pops the intel back to the Ghosts.

Together, the squad lines up another synchronised shot - this time using the intel to fire on targets they can't even see. Together, they kill the four-man team without ever seeing them firsthand, bullets punching through the walls and dropping the men.

We then skip to the big finish. The Ghosts advance on the refinery, avoiding the bridge to their right where sentry guns protect the path, and instead wade into the water where a minefield guards against unwelcome intruders. With magnetic vision the Ghost Lead can see shallow metal objects and mark the mines for his team.

Moving silently, the Ghosts pick off nearby stragglers and storm the stronghold. The stealth and tactics remain even in the midst of a firefight, but Future Soldier has lost the thing that made Advanced Warfighter's duff AI work - the Cross-Com command system. Here, you designate the targets but your AI team makes their own decisions, chooses their own cover, and fights their own fights. Uh oh.

"US Special Forces are these elite guys with, like, ten years of being at the top," says GRFS's very French Associate Producer, Thomas Leroux-Hugon. "They don't expect anyone to give them orders; they cooperate and collaborate. They expect any member of the squad to be able to say 'I'm going to go here, you're going to go there.' We wanted to get that in the game."

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So they did and, right now, it looks like it works. Toggling the Ghosts between Stealth and Aggressive modes, you can choose their rules of engagement. Designate three targets out in the open when in Stealth mode and they'll seek cover and line up a synchronised shot; if the shot isn't available, they won't take it. Designate a man on his own and one Ghost will advance and silently break the target's neck.

In the midst of a firefight they'll actively flank and engage the targets you select, always searching for cover and keeping their heads down. Have Ubisoft Paris cracked the AI Partner problem - namely, that every AI partner in every game made is a hateful, worthless bullet-magnet?

"We're working on that," says Leroux-Hugon, "and it's working. Right now, the team won't ever get you detected. As long as you, the player, are not detected, your team will remain undetected. When the gunfight starts they change their behaviour regarding the situation. You won't be cursing your team mates." "The AI is autonomous," explains Couzian, "but we have many scripted messages that the designer gives to the AI so they can act in the best way at any given moment.

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