The different abilities of the three character types also focus players on helping one another. The Scouts have active camouflage and sensor systems, which help them gather intel on enemy positions. The Engineers have turrets and confidence boosters , which help them secure objectives. I'm not entirely sure how the "confidence boosting" pack works exactly. Does it just periodically shout out "You can do it!" while the Engineer is disarming a bomb? The Riflemen can toss out ammo packs and medkits to help other players. More importantly, the Riflemen also have access to many of the game's most lethal and versatile weapons. I mean, the Scout is nice, but he doesn't have the M60.
If you like a particular weapon but it still doesn't feel quite right, you can hop into the Gun Smith area to tweak nearly everything about it. Featuring over 600 separate parts, Gun Smith is a full 3D interface where you can strip down the gun and rebuild it with entirely new components that change how it performs. If you're like me and prefer to use rapid follow up shots, you'll probably want to use the match trigger, which gives you better sensitivity than the standard trigger. You might decide that it's worth trading your rate-of-fire for better barrel control by venting the gas under the barrel. If you're big on suppression fire, you might want AP ammo and a bipod grip. Each of these components is unlockable as well, so you'll probably find yourself refining your favorite weapons as you advance through the game. And if you're totally clueless or don't want to bother, you can simply ask the game to optimize a given weapon for a certain role based on the parts you have available.
The whole Gun Smith interface also supports the Kinect interface, so you can literally wave your arms around to cycle through the different components for each slot. You can also simply say "Optimze for control" to have the Gun Smith automatically load up all the components that give you the highest control rating. From this point, you can jump to the firing range to check out how the new weapon performs at a variety of distances and in a variety of stances. The firing range also supports Kinect controls but, since you can't use those controls in the actual game, you'll probably want to use the gamepad to make sure the guns are performing the way you want them to.
As distinct as the feel of the game is from Call of Duty, Ubisoft is offering new online tools for Ghost Recon that's very much like Call of Duty's Elite service. The new web package, Ghost Recon Network, which runs online and through smartphone and tablet apps, does basically everything the Elite does. Linked to your online gaming profile, it tracks stats and challenges, manages your clan, shows heat maps for the various levels, lets you customize your loadouts, and provides updates on what your friends are doing in the game.
Be sure to check back between now and the game's release on May 22 for our interviews with the game's creators and the real-life soldiers who have been consulting on the project.