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Published on June 17th, 2010 | by Bryant Kazmerzak, Contributor

The Technology Behind Ghost Recon: Future Soldier

E3 is LIVE, and you know what that means:

New games to drool over.

So far we saw what EA, Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, Konami and Ubisoft are going to be bringing to the table in the next 12 months.

Other people are tearing apart Microsoft’s Kinect (Formerly Natal), Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, Bulletstorm, and Metal Gear: Rising, but me? I wanna talk about the return of one of my all-time favorite franchises in gaming history: Ghost Recon.

Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is the first game in a new chapter in the Book of Ghosts. The last game, Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2 came out in 2007, much to several people’s enjoyment.

Let’s take a look back before we delve into the world of the future:

Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2 (2007)
Ubisoft
Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC

GRAW 2 puts players back into the boots of Captain Scott Mitchell, the protagonist from the first GRAW. Utilizing new technology, such as improved UAVs, an upgraded Cross-Com, and the new MULE UGV, Mitchell and his Ghosts are America’s first number on it’s speed dial when a Mexican rebellion forces itself across the American border.

GRAW and GRAW 2 gave us a good look at real-world technology currently in use in today’s special and conventional forces. Of course, for videogames’ sake they are slightly exaggerated, such as the Cross-Com lens, and the counter-sniping view, but the UAVs, UGVs, and the advanced weapons are currently fielded in training and abroad.

Now, let’s take a look at Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. All screen shots posted are taken from the HD trailer showing off the new tech. For continuity’s sake, I will not be posting pictures of the gameplay footage, as that is subject to change dramatically.

UAVs

Headed off to Kotick's place...

The first picture is taken, presumably, from a low-flying UAV. Though it is not shown in the tech trailer, once can assume it is similar to the Cypher UAV drones from GRAW. The technology behind this is currently in use, with ground commanders able to see real-time feeds from Predator and Global Hawk high-altitude UAVs. Cyphers aren’t quite in use, as they have been proven to be a very easy, slow, and rather large target for insurgent snipers.

In fact, folks in multiplayer quickly learned to shoot down enemy forces’ UAVs, blinding them temporarily (If I remember correctly).

In the gameplay trailer, we saw a bona fide satellite scan trigger. I cannot wait to see this in action myself.

Body Armor

Body armor is a soldier’s best friend. Though, I’m pretty friggin’ sure you didn’t need me to tell you that.

The armor in this screen is based off Ubisoft’s own concept, whereas GRAW’s armor was based off the modular personal protection system currently fielded in Iraq.

Needless to say, the armor looks sweet, and I’m sure it can take a lot of beating, but the gear looks like it has a lot more than just ceramic plates and smart fabrics. More on that when more information is released.

However, chances are that the armor system being employed in the new game is similar to Kevlar, but with a ballistically-active gel layer between, under, or over it. This gel is comprised of a polymer suspended in a gel medium that when struck by a bullet solidifies on the spot, causing the bullet to stop in it’s tracks and transferring the kinetic energy of the bullet evenly across the surface of the armor, keeping the soldier safe.

MULEs and other UGVs

In GRAW 2, we saw the MULE UGV (Unmanned Ground Vehicle). The MULE was used as autonomous mobile cover and gear transportation. You swap out your kit on the fly with it in missions, and was therefore quite handy when you were up against enemy armor, and needed a Javelin. The MULE had no weapons on it, but current real-life models sport smoke grenade launchers and smoke machines built in, as well as advanced load-carrying equipment.

The UGVs here appear to be the meaner cousin to the docile MULE, with a chaingun and what looks like a mini-rocket launcher rack on its port side. Needless to say, the new UGV looks bad-ass, and, to use a long outdated and clichéd term, totally bitchin’.

Those that saw the gameplay trailer and the live action trailer know that the chaingun on the drone is whithering, able to cut down other drones and tear away cover very quickly. How this will play into multiplayer remains to be seen, so let’s hope it works well.

Weapons

GRAW had some amazing weapons; It was where we got our hands on such beauties like the SCAR-H, Counter-sniper Rifle, and my personal favorite, the camera gun.

The new guns in Future Soldier look a bit like heavily modified Magpull Masadas with some sort of hook doo-hickey on the end. What it’s for, I have no idea, but I cannot wait to find out.

In the gameplay trailer, Ghosts used the silenced barrel as an up close (Less than 2 feet at times) means of execution, hence why I have coined the game as “Splinter Cell meets Ghost Recon”. Another variant that was seen in the gameplay footage played a sniper role, with a removable sniper barrel, complete with a silencer and green optic scope.

Exoskeleton

For several years now, DARPA has been designing an exoskeleton system for today’s warrior. Using force multiplying leg joints, arm braces, and a back-mounted power supply, the system according to Discovery’s FutureWeapons allows a soldier to run faster than he/she normally would, and carry very large loads on his/her back as well as in his/her arms.

The system is being used in GRFS with some cool modifications. Gone is the clunky back piece, and gone also are the arm pieces (From what I can tell from the trailer). What’s left is the leg augmentations, allowing these Ghosts to move quickly and jump higher, as we can see in the trailer as one of them vaults over a wall.

Friggin’ Back-Mounted Rocket Launchers!

Here’s something completely new to Ghost Recon: FREAKING SHOULDER MOUNTED MINI ROCKET LAUNCHERS!

Next, Sam Fisher infiltrates an underwater complex guarded by sharks with lasers. It’s inevitable.

This is completely original, which is sad, as I would love nothing more than to see Mack from FutureWeapons do his Batman whisper while praising the rocket launcher backpack.

The rockets appear to be very small, almost the size of the FRAG-12 12 gauge grenade, only self-propelled and navigated. I cannot wait to see these bitches in action!

Sniping Goodies

I’m a whore for sniping, sniper rifles, and anything that involves a big bullet going long distances and pegging bad people in their big evil heads, but this? This is downright sinful. Let me break it down.

First off, from what we saw in the gameplay demo, as a Ghost was about to take down the Person of Interest, you could see where the sniping team was aiming as represented on the Cross-Com by a blue line (Think like an aiming laser, but only visible by the Ghosts). This means an upgraded Cross-Com with full Sniper support. More on the Cross-Com later.

According to the tech trailer, this sniper was shooting “Smart” munitions, of which the effect remain to be seen, but one can assume that they are armor/wall penetrating. The trailer depicted the round taking out 3 cut-out targets, so we can only hope that these rounds do some awesome shit.

The scope displayed enemy targets as red diamonds, a feature we saw in GRAW. This was achieved by using the Cross-Com, a heads up display that is depicted via a monocular eyepiece. Think Solid Snake’s Solid Eye system, and you get the idea. The Cross-Com displays relevant battlefield data, such as enemy placement represented by real-time UAV and satellite feeds, objective information, waypoint display and navigation, and weapon information such as ammunition count and rate of fire selection. This system is still under development, but a simpler (And less streamlined) version is currently underway in Iraq called Landwarrior.

Landwarrior has been in the works for years, and it’s objective can be broken down into 3 basic principles: Provide mission-relevant information to each user, provide command and overwatch using troop identification markers and GPS locators, and allow for a quick means of communication on the battlefield in real-time, all the while displaying all of this information in a small eyepiece attached to the soldier’s helmet, you can learn more about this game and get other services as boosting at sites like overwatchboostpros.com. What this means for our boys in the field is that in an urban environment, commanders in AWACS and at UAV control stations would be able to pinpoint enemy positions and relay that in real-time to a small overlay map in the soldier’s eyepiece, but it doesn’t stop just there. Squad leaders can send text-based messages using a small SMS keyboard to their troops when voice communication is impossible or impractical, as well as take pictures with an onboard digital camera and send it to one another. Forgot what the Ace Of Spades terrorist of the day looks like? Request a forward from Private Jones.

Badda-bing, badda-boom.

And now for the coup-de-gras; Ghosts this time around are able to cloak based on a technology currently under development by several countries and institutions. According to Popular Science, researchers have gotten the mathematics that make the process possible down on paper, but the means to execute the process are still a long way off. Will we see invisible (You know what I mean) soldiers in our lifetime? Most definitely.

But that could a long way off, some say 10 years at best.

But, as far as this game goes, now you see it…

Now you dont…

Am I stoked for this game?

To put it simply: You have no idea.

Expect more information and news on this game as the months progress. This game is going on my list of “shit to keep you in the know on”, so that’s a promise.

–Shaddz

Follow Shaddz on Twitter: @Shaddz
Email Shaddz: Shaddz [at] GAMINGtruth [dot] com




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