Ghost Recon: Future Solider was a solid entrant into the vaguely futuristic subgenre of the third-person shooter, clocking up an 8/10 right here, delivering a solid multiplayer chock full of incendiary shotguns and boots to the neck. Does the first DLC for Future Solider, titled Arctic Strike, bolster the experience and extend the playability beyond the rather pleasant paramaters established by the core game? Well no, not really.
Calling something Arctic Strike, for a start, conjures up two thoughts: firstly, whoever chose the name has no concept of weather, as only one of the four maps, the non-competitive multiplayer one, contains even the faintest suggestion of ‘the arctic’. Second, there’s good money on the name of choice originally being Northern Strike, only for someone to discover Battlefield 2142 already had one of the same name, Arctic shoehorned in as it was late on a Friday and someone wanted a drink.
First off, there’s Skyline, which contains no snow, fall, drift, flurry, piste or even the humble iglo. Instead, Skyline is set atop a roof, feeling like Future Soldier’s Cargo meets Modern Warfare 2′s Highrise, with combat on two levels and several segments of open gunplay. Chokepoints are well positioning, funnelling combat into certain areas but it never really evolves beyond being a fairly bland, lifeless map, lacking the craft and care of any of the core levels.
Riot, as the name implies, also doesn’t contain any ice, sleet, slush or blizzard and is rather a large, rioting city set in Russia, or whatever those pesky Ravens have named it. The whole thing is disorientating given the very repetitive, dull nature of every street corner and even though allegedly set in the US, it simply feels like a US city, not to mention the myriad of texture pop-in issues.
The only map which exudes any real character is Evicted, a Soviet-era village chock full of precisely the sort of bland, faceless facade buildings of that era should have -even though this is ‘future’ solider, set vaguely in the future, and this sort of 70′s USSR settlement would be long since destroyed. It’s scattered with delightful touches, a space-race playground in bright red stands in stark contrast to the swathes of gray, and the Stalineque statue in the middle of the square.
What doesn’t gel quite so well is somewhat gratuitous use of graffiti which fails to add character or serve any purpose whatsoever. Somewhere like this, a place steeped in history and politics may well have lots of anti-establishment or anti-capitalist sentiment but opting for the same copypasta ‘tagz’ ad infinitum seems lazy.
As well as the hastily named multiplayer maps, Arctic Strike also features a level cap increase, appealing to anybody still playing the game but few others. A new guerilla map features, for once, some snow! It’s basically that bit in the single player with the dog-like mech, only without the mech, so what’s the point in that then? There’s also six new weapons and new game mode Stockade, which is just for Search and Destroy only without the objective or sense of purpose, you get one life, die and are sent to the stockade.
Arctic Strike barely seems to be trying at all, offering little in terms of new, exciting content and will only disappoint given the solid, consistent nature of virtually every map from the core game. Not to mention a rather irritating marketing bugger-up in not naming it simply Russian Strike or Soviet Sludge, or just an audible sigh. At 800 MS, this isn’t really worth anybody’s time, other than the hardcore, yet easily impressed.