Full Spectrum Warrior

July 14, 2004

[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/fullspectrumwarrior/cover.jpg[/floatleft]Let me start by saying that this is a squad based tactical strategy style game and not a first person shooter. If you want up close, zoom in, hands on killing, this is not the game for you. If you like the idea of having to think before you move and decide how to get from point A to point B without getting riddled with large caliber bullets, you should definitely check out Full Spectrum Warrior.

At the beginning, you are thrown into a training exercise to get you familiar with the controls and the tactics you will need to master. You are in control of two, four member teams, Alpha and Bravo. You spend about 30 to 45 minutes learning how to move your teams, position them to out flank the enemy, and even use grenade launchers. After the training you are deployed into some made up Middle Eastern country where your convoy is attacked. If you have seen the movie Black Hawk Down, the city streets of the game resemble those of the movie. From this point you are given different objectives as you move through the game. You have to make your way to rendezvous with some captain, then lead some soldier to some Stinger missiles he has to disarm, and then clear a street of enemies so a convoy can pass. The game tells you where you need to go so you are not just running around in circles.

The graphics are better than most. Not the best I have ever seen, but still well done. When the characters talk, their mouth movements seem to match. Characters walking or running is much more realistic than even motion capture sports games. Programmers apparently spent some time putting in a lot of detail. When your team is up against a wall and your team leader peeks out to see if there are any “tangos” or bad guy, and he starts shooting at you, you can see the shards of rock being blasted from the wall. Also if you do screw up and you do get shot it shows, in slow motion, you getting ripped up as the bullets pass through you.

[floatright]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/fullspectrumwarrior/ss04_thumb.jpg[/floatright]The sounds through out the game are good. From tanks rolling by to rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) whizzing past your head, you are pulled right into the action. As the enemy crosses the street to take cover you can even hear him yelling in some Arabic sounding jibber jabber.

The controls take a little time to get used to, but on the back of the instruction book is a cheat sheet for all of the commands. Some of the buttons are multi-use depending if you push or push and hold. Left analog stick is your formation movement control. You use it to position four circles that represent your men, and then press A to initiate the move. The right analog stick is your camera. It takes a little getting used to as well. If you move it around too fast the game will freak out and just keep the camera spinning around your squad. At any point you can press the black button to access your GPS and get enemy locations and objective locations. Overall it’s not that difficult and it only takes a little time to get the hang of it.

There are two levels of difficulty. The lower difficulty is not all that hard as long as you stay behind cover and not just run down an open alley. This is not just a mindless, run-around-and-kill-everything type game. You do have to concentrate and think before you move. There can be an enemy around any corner waiting to put a cap in your a… rear. There are no shields, or energy boosts. Your characters are human. They can be shot, but if it is serious enough they are down for the count, but not always dead. That means that one of the remaining three soldiers has to carry him and now you are down to only two shooters. Also your team moves more slowly due to one having to carry another. As you move deeper into the game the enemy develops better aim and a more accurate shot. If one or more of your men are killed, you have a choice to either restart the level or jump into a replay. This is one of the cooler features of the game. You jump in starting at the last save point and it will replay your every move. At any point you can jump in at take over.

[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/fullspectrumwarrior/ss11_thumb.jpg[/floatleft]Of course it is always fun to kill bad guys. Especially when you get one hiding behind a car and you give the order for a grenade launcher attack. Then BLAMO… the car is six pieces and the enemy is 8 pieces. I have never been that good at the quick aim and shoot type games. In this game you only have to tell your men when to shoot and what direction.

Not everyone will like this game. If you love Halo, you will probably hate this game. If you like Ghost Recon, but was never good about getting those head shots you should love this game. This game has removed the gamers need to control the movement and shooting of each individual character, but has maintained the strategy. Since it is such a different style of gameplay I suggest you rent it first. If you aren’t into the game renting thing then look for a pre-owned copy because if you pay the 50 bones and hate it you are going to be a little angry.