We are about a month away from the release of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Solider and a closed multiplayer beta has opened up to those with a code. If you purchased Splinter Cell: Conviction you will automatically have access to this, provided you still have the game disc. If not, those interested could sign up on the official website and receive a few codes via email. I think it is a really smart move to include a multiple passes so gamers can get friends, the people you will be paying with when the game comes out, in on the action.

For the beta, we have a choice of two maps and one mode. Pipeline and Mill are the level choices with Conflict as the game type. Pipeline is a smaller level in the desert at, what seems to be, an oil refinery, Mill is a wooded area, also small and seems to be a saw mill in a deserted little town. Conflict is pretty much your standard “capture the point” game mode. As you capture said points, they become ammo drops. Don’t forget, the other team is trying to capture the same points. I had hoped to see a new game type in the beta, but this one plays just fine, even if it’s more of the same.

Both levels were smaller and seemed to lack the polish you should expect from similarly sized arenas. I expected more expansive levels as Ghost Recon titles of the past focused more on big maps, with slower gameplay requiring a lot more team work. It felt a lot like the new maps from games like Modern Warfare and Battlefield 3, but without the refinement of those titles.

The gameplay is pretty fast paced, marking a change from previous entries in the Ghost Recon series. This feels more in line with the current shooters like Call of Duty. I honestly hoped this game would stay closer to past titles and not try to compete directly with the shooters that currently rule the online world. I truly found it annoying that when faced with a close quarters enemy that I could not roll or dodge to avoid damage. The fact that we now have a cover system like Gears of War also did nothing for me. Overall, it plays pretty well and is a good time, but I was hoping for something different.

You have the ability to choose your player type and weapon load out, which is all pretty standard in this day and age for shooters. Ubisoft also went ahead and borrowed the challenges and XP systems that shooter fans have become accustomed to. This will add a layer of depth for those hardcore players who love to grind and rank up to unlock new features and weapons. It all just feels borrowed from other games, diluting what makes Ghost Recon great.

Game connectivity was pretty horrible. Now, before the flames start, I know this is a beta, and I know there are bugs. Regardless of the game’s status, it should never take five or more attempts to connect to a match. To make that even worse, about half the matches I did get in froze or locked up my machine, requiring a console reboot.

Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is a fun game that plays well when it works. Hopefully, a lot of the connectivity issues and freezing problems are part and parcel of the game still being in beta. The gameplay, at least in the mode on offer, might be put off by the drastic change in style. We can only hope that the full experience remains true to the series’ roots and hasn’t become an emulation of Modern Warfare and Battlefield.

Ghost Recon: Future Soldier releases on May 22nd for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 while the PC version is set for a US release of June 12th.