One might assume that the combat issues could be avoided, so long as each mission is completed without being seen. That's not the case in Future Soldier. The structure of nearly every mission boils down to infiltrating an area undetected, gathering information or a VIP, and then having your cover blown, anyway. I felt like there was no reward in stealth, since hostiles would eventually find me and as a result missions would devolve into firefights, regardless.
There is one notable instance, however, where a firefight is a lot of fun. Future Soldier peaks in the middle of the campaign when the Ghost team is assigned a large robot called the War Hound. Forget for a moment the ludicrous notion of being asked to infiltrate a facility while also walking around with a giant robot, decorated in the obligatory camo color scheme. The War Hound packs mortar rounds and, better yet, guided missiles that I got to control directly in the missile's first-person camera when fired. The mission essentially boils down to blowing up as many vehicles and enemies as possible with the War Hound's mortars and missiles. It's mindless fun and serves as a nice break from the pace of the rest of the campaign.
Future Soldier's online multiplayer earns credit for trying to deviate from the run-of-the-mill deathmatch formula with tactical-based game modes. Conflict (which featured the most players) introduces objectives one-at-a-time, often involving capturing or defending a point. Many of the campaign's stealth items can also be used by certain classes. A unified team can assign one person to toss out a sensor, for instance, which makes finding opposing team members a breeze. Despite such attempts at emphasizing teamwork, though, I found multiplayer sessions constantly devolved into frag fests, with players blindly chucking grenades around. I like the idea of having to capture a piece of intel, but I was less enthused when a lucky grenade rolled in front of me while I was trying to do so.
After its delays, I didn't know what to expect from Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, but Ubisoft's Paris, Red Storm, and Bucharest studios have created a fine stealth experience. Their combined efforts yielded a substantial package of single and co-op campaign play to go with a sophisticated multiplayer offering. Perhaps the extended load times the game suffers from--even after a second, separate installation for the audio files--reflect just how ambitious an undertaking it became. In spite of such annoyances, Ghost Recon Future Soldier should deliver many rewarding hours for those who've been looking for a more tactical shooter experience.
It's not always as easy as sneak in and sneak out.