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Ghost Recon Future Solider: Ubisoft aims for blockbuster territory

Latest demo mixes stealth, set-pieces and Kinect

When it was first unveiled at last year's E3, Ghost Recon's Gunsmith feature caused rapturous applause to erupt in the Galen Centre.

By waving one's hands and yelling at the Kinect module, journalists were told, players could create insane, barmy weapons and then test them on an in-game shooting range.

It had been a bit of a flat E3 briefing up until then, so when Ubisoft demonstrated how Kinect could finally be used to do something fun in a hardcore game it gave the proceedings a much-needed shot in the arm.

Of course, once the euphoria of that moment had died down, us journalists started grousing about what we'd just seen - as is our wont. A lot of hacks dismissed Gunsmith as silly. A stupid gimmick, said others. Still more wondered out loud how Gunsmith would tie into the rest of the game.

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Ghost Recon has always been a more silent, tactical and - in spite of the odd sci-fi-themed gizmo - realistic offering than other modern military shooters. So, how was Gunsmith supposed to be an integral part of the game and rather than just a firearm enthusiast's toy?

In truth, according to Adrian Lacey, Ubisoft France's IP Development Director, there's no reason that it can't be both.

"You have around 20 million different types of customisation," says Lacey, "and that ranges from your stock, your scope or the gun's inner workings. You can go as deep and as layered as you want."

Within reason, that is. Lacey says that players still have to bear some laws of physics in mind; as fun as it would sound to do so, for example, players won't be able to stick the long-distance scope of a Barrett M82 on a Walther PPK and then attach it to a rocket launcher.

Kinect owners can conjure up zany firearms by barking orders or using their limbs to select components, but Lacey says a control-pad works just as well. Still, it's hard to shake the idea than Gunsmith has any practical applications. Lacey, however, is quick to dispel that notion.

"It's a cool gadget, yes, it is a cool toy, but it can also severely impact on how players approach the game and how they approach the game's campaign," he says.

Wait a minute. You can take these weapons into the campaign? "Yes. You test them on the in-game gun range to see if they work the way you want them to, and then once you're happy with them, you can take them into the campaign."

At this stage, we'll have to take Lacey at his word, since, at the demo we attended, we weren't allowed any hands-on time in the campaign with some home-brewed firearms.

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Still, the prospect of tackling the game's campaign with custom-rigged weapons is certainly a tantalising prospect, especially when one considers that up to four players can bring their own nutjob weapons into the fray in the online campaign co-op mode. It'll be interesting to see how these freakish firearms will sit next to the other array of gadgets players have to mess about with.

The selection of battlefield gadgets has always been one of Ghost Recon's calling cards and Future Soldier doesn't really buck the trend here.

Aside from the augmented reality HUD (in which everything from civilians to targets to the weapons the players are holding boasts a read-out), the soldiers of Ghost Recon are kitted out with optical camo suits, which make them near-invisible to NPCs who aren't standing on top of them, and Sensor Grenades, which paint targets in their vicinity and reveal hidden enemies.

Players also have access to a remote-controlled drone - a kind of circular-shaped mini quad-copter - that they can pilot over a decent distance and use to mark out enemy positions that are beyond their line of sight.

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