When Ghost Recon: Future Soldier burst onto the scene a little over two months ago, I considered it the best futuristic tactical shooter the Xbox 360 to date. Today, I still stand by those claims as Future Soldier is about as good as it gets and is truly a must own for pretty much any shooter fan. Now there is even more reason to pick-up the game as Ubisoft has just released the first offering of downloadable content (DLC) called the “Arctic Strike”. So what do you get in this pack? Well for 800 Microsoft Points you get three new multiplayer maps, a new game mode, a new Guerrilla mode map, some new weapons, and a few other additions to the game. In my mind it’s not too bad of a DLC pack at all.
With a title like Arctic Strike I know what many of you are likely thinking: “good lord, the last thing I need is more snow levels in a shooter”. Call of Duty fans will know exactly what I am talking about as frankly we have been inundated with snow maps for years. Fortunately the Arctic Strike does not just feature snow maps to go with its existing 10-maps out of the box. Instead, Ubisoft gives us one snow map, which is specific for the Guerilla mode, while the multiplayer maps are left out of any snowy or blizzard conditions. Before I get into my impressions of the new mode, the new Guerilla map, and any other features of the DLC pack, I will briefly give you my impressions of the three new adversarial multiplayer maps.
The first map I played was called “Riot”. This smaller map takes in a city that has been ravaged by war. The map features plenty of buildings and hiding spots. There are burnt out shops, empty boulevards and derailed metro cars near the center of the map. The streets have been deserted but if you listen closely enough you can hear civil unrest in the distance. Of the three new maps “Riot” is the smallest of them all but by no means is it a map where you have to equip yourself with a decent shotgun; however, that is not a bad idea at all. Medium range weaponry is your best bet as “Riot” is more of a run and gun map. I had a blast playing this map, and out all the new maps this one was the most intense as the action is relentless. It is fast paced map and having lots of ammo will help as you don’t want to get caught reloading as I often was.
The next map I played was “Evicted”, which is a large map and can be considered a snipers haven in some spots. The map takes place on what looks like a deserted military base. There is a children’s playground near the center of the map, which is kind of creepy, and it is located near a massive apartment complex. There are lots of shed like structures perfectly suited for cover. The action takes place during the day and the map is nicely lit making it easier to spot your opponents. It is also full of detail that is beautifully rendered. Out of all the new maps this was certainly the most visually appealing of the bunch. Given that “Evicted” is so large you will go long stretches without seeing anyone. Strategy is the name of the game and you will want players who are proficient with long-range weapons on your team for this one.
The last of the three downloadable maps I played was “Skyline”. This map takes place on the rooftop of a skyscraper. The map is surprisingly large and the rooftop spans over a large area. There are large solar panels and a radio tower featured in this map. The action takes place both out in the open and inside in what looks to be a mechanical maintenance area. Much to my surprise there are a few good sniper points, so proficient snipers should be able to do some damage in this map. “Skyline” also features plenty of vulnerable locations, so you should never get too comfortable in one area. Oh, did I mention that the rooftop is multi-tiered, so you have to be even more aware of your surroundings, as it is easy to flank your opponent, or be flanked yourself, in this map.
The Arctic Strike DLC Pack also includes a new game mode called “Stockade”. The idea here is that once you are killed in a multiplayer game you are sent to the stockade. You then become a spectator. You have to wait until someone is killed on your team before you will go back into the game provided it is your turn. I played a couple of games in this mode and I found that the games seemed to last forever. Both were close contests but the matches did seem to drag on. I found myself waiting in spectator mode far too often as frankly I was in a room full of fantastic gamers who were quite proficient with their weapons. Needless to say I was punished, but I can certainly see the redeeming qualities of this mode and the appeal for some gamers, for me however I will stick to the regular objective based modes.
The new Guerilla map takes place on a snow level and visually it is not the most jaw dropping of the new content. That is not to say it looks bad though. This level plays out like all the other Guerilla mode maps where you work your way towards a headquarters and capture it. Once you have captured it you have to fend off waves of enemies. Things really start to become interesting when you hit level 10 and all of the sudden a blizzard sets in eliminating any visibility. Needless to say, it was here that our Editor in Chief Kirby Y and I hit a wall. The game became increasingly difficult and had us wishing we had a couple more people to play with. Regardless, we had a lot of fun and the new map is certainly welcomed with open arms.
Arctic Strike also features six news weapons. For the Rifleman you get the F2000 and the CZS805. For the Scout you get the Type 05 JS and BT MP9. Finally, for the Engineer you get the OCP-11 and the Mk17. None of the weapons give you any type of advantage, but they are nice additions as they give you more variety and you may just enjoy one of them more then others after some time. To round things out, this new DLC also adds a level cap increase of 10 as well as a few more achievements. These are just the final sprinkles on top of the icing called Arctic Strike.
As we have said numerous times in other reviews where we examine downloadable content, if you are a fan of the game in question, and in this case the game is Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, and you continue to play it regularly, then you will want to pick up the Arctic Strike DLC. The three new multiplayer maps, new Guerrilla map, the new game mode, the new weapons, the level cap increase, and the new achievements make this bit of DLC a solid purchase, and if you are looking for a reason to get back into the game, the Arctic Strike DLC Pack should give you the justification you need to do so.