Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier – “Raven Strike” DLC (Xbox 360) Review

One of my favourite shooters this year, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, offered a spectacular single player campaign with some of the best co-op fun I’ve played in years.  While the game was packed with 12 missions and numerous tactical challenges, upon finishing the game I was left longing for more single player & co-op action. Well, my wishes have been answered with the Raven Strike DLC Package.  This new DLC adds three new missions in campaign mode, Secure Dawn, a foggy marsh in Kazakhstan, Cold Walker, a train depot on the Russian countryside, Argent Thunder, a nighttime urban setting in Moscow and one new guerilla map, Sawmill.   A promise of gameplay reminiscent of traditional Ghost Recon style, complex maps and increased difficulty, I was anxious to get back into the game to check out this additional content.

All three missions take place during a coup against Russian President Volodin.  Raven’s Rock, the Russian nationalist group launching the coup, has shot down a top general’s plane, which was in flight when the coup took place.  Looking to gain the Russians favour, or in the words of the Overlord, have them by the balls, the Ghost team is sent into to assist.  Your team’s objective the first mission, Secure Dawn, is to reach the general before Raven’s Rock does.   With only basic gear available (no sensors, no drones, no optical camo), the ghosts are dropped into a dense, dark forest somewhere in the middle of Kazakhstan to secure the crash site and extract the VIP.   Thermal imaging and a long-range weapon with a suppressor will be your best friend as a thick fog covers the map, creating an obstructive view.   There are many opportunities to flank the opponent or to take them head on depending on your style of play.  The forests you do battle in also provides great cover.  This first mission had a somewhat spooky feeling about it, as your teammate will note, with decrepit log cabins, a dark forest, and the eerie quiet of nothing except for the sound of crickets in the background.   A large portion of this level involves playing in the midst of a murky swam.  Walking through the water with heavy gear, oddly enough, wasn’t cumbersome at all.  Light vehicle and heavy artillery present an additional challenge when trying to secure the objectives, which at times can be rather frustrating without having the use of heavy weapons such as an RPG.  Russian special ops and snipers are numerous, making the last part of this mission very overwhelming at times.

In Cold Walker, the second mission, we discover that General Kozlov, the VIP extracted from the first mission, has setup headquarters in St. Petersburg.  His field commander, General Douka, has rallied loyalist troops and has won many victories against Raven’s Rock; however, he doesn’t have command of the control network to use the troops effectively.  Apparently it is Russian tradition to use specially modified train cars as mobile command posts, and the objective in this mission is to infiltrate and secure the command car to upload an eavesdropping program.  With no alerts allowed, and sometimes frustrating AI, this was a very challenging mission, and the most difficult of the three in my opinion.  Using the drone and the sensor grenades is essential for success.  Adding to the difficulty of no alerts allowed, numerous helicopters patrol the skies above and one slight movement while you within their sights and you will alert them to your presence.  From maneuvering about a vineyard, to battling enemies among train cars in a train yard, this mission provided lots of short sight, but also lots of cover.  For true Ghost Recon fans, it doesn’t get much better than this, with lots of tactical planning and little room for error.

With the program uploaded into the train car, the intel reveals that a large amount of classified information has been stolen.  The third and final mission objective is to find the four Raven’s Rock generals, obtain the stolen information, gain the favour of the Russians, and avoid a potential Cold War.  Those who have finished the single player campaign will be quite familiar with this scenario, but this time around thankfully the VIPS, once found, do not flee the area.   You are dropped in the middle of downtown Moscow at night and sirens, explosions, and gunshots can be heard in the distance as you make your way through this urban setting, which has many park benches, abandoned cars, and cement barriers to use as cover.  I highly suggest equipping something long range with a grenade launcher as well.  You should also equip EMP grenades because each VIP is heavily guarded with tanks, sentries and snipers galore.   I must admit, I was bit disappointed with the ending of the third mission.  Once you make it to the extraction point after finding the VIPs, the mission abruptly ends, bringing you to the debriefing screen without a cut scene.

In regards to the newly added Guerilla map Sawmill; the maps name speaks for itself, with players facing off against enemies in a sawmill somewhere in the foggy Russian countryside.  Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to play this with others, although I did briefly checkout the map.  Centred around a sawmill (of course!) the level has small sheds, logging carts, and piles of lumber that all provide lots of cover, with typical Guerilla mode gameplay, protect the HQ, etc.

True to what is claimed, the new DLC missions certainly are difficult, and I had many rage quit moments when I wanted to through my controller through the TV screen, particularly when playing alone.  Much like the original campaign, this game shines when playing with a couple friends online.   However, the increased difficulty is really what makes this so DLC pack so fun, with many OMFG moments to be had, the anticipation of what’s to come, and that sense of satisfaction, and relief, of reaching a checkpoint.   There is at least 3-5 hours of single player/co-op gameplay, if not more when aiming to complete the tactical challenges.  The Raven Strike DLC missions are a welcome extension of the game, and with intense, traditional Ghost Recon gameplay, and with the addition of a new Guerilla map, and they really should be considered a must purchase for fans of the game and those just looking to expand their Future Soldier experience.

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