HORDING IT UP
After the pleasantries of the storyline campaign mode were over, we had a chance to try out something that we thought we'd never see in a Ghost Recon mode - 'Guerrilla', its equivalent of a horde mode.
For the uninitiated, horde is a co-operative game type in which players band together to defeat increasingly-difficult waves of enemies. Typically the preserve of all-action shooters such as Halo and Gears of War, horde would seem to be the antithesis of everything Ghost Recon - even this new, spry Ghost Recon - is all about. But with a few choice modifications, Ubisoft Paris has re-balanced the concept into something that agrees with the series' cornerstones of preparation, communication and co-ordination.
Astonishingly, it all works brilliantly, and it does so by turning the core gameplay of the campaign mode on its head. Instead of playing the part of infiltrator, you play the part of the infiltrated.
Things begin as they might in the main campaign. During the 'Stealth Phase', your squad are tasked with sneaking up on and claiming an enemy base in the usual fashion. Once done, this becomes your headquarters and the objective is to repel ten waves of incoming forces before upping sticks to another location. The game ends if all four soldiers go down simultaneously, or if an enemy manages to occupy the headquarters for ten seconds.
Where Guerrilla differs from traditional horde modes is that you get a chance to properly prepare, re-tool and re-position yourself for each wave. This 'inter-wave' period is also the perfect time to fire out a recon drone, with which you can fly ahead of the pack and discover ahead of time which direction the next wave are going to approach from.
As with the campaign mode, the surest way to survive is to band together and work as a unit, but Wave Streaks (read 'perks') offer a safeguard against tactical incompetence. Wave Streaks are awarded for surviving consecutive waves, and range from deployable turrets to invisibility cloaks which allow you to jump right into the thick of the action while the rest of your squad offers support from afar.
It's fantastic stuff when your team are all singing from the same hymn sheet. Guerrilla nails the sense of giddying escalation that all good horde modes have, but the fact you're so invested in the welfare of your teammates gives it an added edge.
Future Soldier, then, succeeds where Splinter Cell: Conviction failed by managing to ramp up the pace without losing sight of what made the Ghost Recon tick in the first place. It's still the same hardcore, tactically-rich, thoughtful shooter it's always been - Ubisoft has just found a faster way of delivering it.