Full Spectrum Warrior: Ten Hammers
Game Info
Platform(s)
Xbox, PS2
Publisher
THQ
Developer
Pandemic Studios
Genre
Strategy/Shooter
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Blood and Gore, Strong Language, Violence
 
Grade
The Good

• Detailed gameworld
• Strategy oriented gameplay is a nice change of pace
• Multiplayer modes are a fine addition

The Bad

• Character models could use more polish
• Controlling troops sometimes felt more like a chore

 
Grade
B+

War themed games tend to be a dime a dozen. To set oneself out in the genre, developers have to take a different perspective on the warfield. Most third person shooters tend to try and make the gamer feel as though they're one man waging a war in the heart of a battlefield. With Full Spectrum Warrior, the player is given the feel of a field commander watching the battle through an observer's eyes. Rather than pulling the trigger, players are given command over squads of four soldiers who fight the war for you.

The story behind Ten Hammers follows events in Zekistan, where the Al-Afad regime has been taken down, leaving the country in unrest. US and Coalition forces must deal with various factions, including Al-Afad loyalists, the Mujahideen al-Zeki, the Anser al-Ra'id and the Khardiman Militia. The heart of the conflict plays out in the Tein-Hamir region and Khardiman.

Once players get into the game, they'll find themselves in control of squads of soldiers (be it one squad or multiple, including armored vehicles). Using the left analog stick, the player orders where the current squad needs to move. Often, you'll have them move into a location where they can take cover. This is displayed in the bottom right corner as you move the cursor to locations in site. Players can move their squad to corners, behind vehicles and barricades, up stairs and into window locations. Move options include running to the selected area or a slower move with weapons drawn.

While under cover, players can hit the X button to bring up the Fire Cursor, which allows you to set the area your squad will aim. If enemies are in this area, your soldiers will fire on them. This is essential as enemies who aren't being fired on can make your life hard. The more firepower you have on them, the more likely you will be to kill them or force them to cover. Holding the X Button will allow you to also pick smoke or frag grenades, both of which are useful in multiple combat situations.

Each squad is composed of four soldiers, each with their own unique skills: the Team Leader is your link to mission data and contact with command; the Automatic Rifleman is best for laying down suppressing fire; the Grenadier is useful for his grenade launcher; and the Rifleman acts as scout and sniper. You can swap between characters by using the D-Pad. While you have limited control over the characters, you can use each soldier's unique skill when selected. By using the White and Black buttons, you can even break your four man team down to two teams of two. This is useful when you only have one squad available to you and need to flank an enemy.

The B Button allows the player to set their Fall Back position, call for cover or tell their squad to fall back. This is essential for when you come under heavy fire and want to pull back rather than lose men. The Y Button lets you switch between squads, including your two man teams, if necessary.

During combat, you're sure to have one of your soldiers go down. You'll need to have the squad pick up the soldier and return him to the nearest CASEVAC, where the soldier can get medial attention and be replaced by another soldier. The CASEVAC is essential for obtaining more ammunition. When your squad goes out, they have a limited amount of ammo, which can be used up during extended firefights.

While the singleplayer mode is pretty intense and will keep more players busy for a while, those who want to play with others will enjoy the multiplayer modes. Xbox gamers have the choice between Xbox Live and system link of up to eight players. Instead of the standard modes, multiplayer is more mission oriented, allowing for teams to take on different real combat responsibilities. Considering the different take that the game already takes with how its gameplay is established, the multiplayer really had to be more goal oriented.

Visually, what works best for Full Spectrum Warrior is the massive city locations and the fine attention to detail. As you move you men through the streets, you'll be amazed with both the number and variety of places you can set them up for combat cover. The high level of real-world details helps to draw the player into the mood of the game. While character models have a nice bit of detail, they could use a little polish and the faces tend to be lifeless. As battles play out, real-time destruction adds a nice touch to the visuals. Bullets tear up parked cars and windows can be blown out. With multiple teams and numerous enemies on screen, the visual action can play out quite nicely. The visual effects are a bit scaled down, but considering the more realistic feel of the game, this isn't much of an issue.

The audio portion goes a long way to make Full Spectrum Warrior feel as though the player is dropped into a war zone. It's as it Pandemic ripped the audio straight out of Black Hawk Down and the mood it sets is nice. Music, when present, is nice but is ultimately secondary to the effects. Guns and explosions all have real world depth. The voiceovers are pretty solid without being outstanding, but the comments made during combat add another layer to the game.

For the most, the game holds together quite well, but there are some issues I wish were a bit different. I felt moving the troops was a little loose as the cursor seemed to require more effort than needed to get your troops to locations that you wanted the to be placed. Also, moving troops through cleared territory seemed to take a lot of effort. Finally, there was the rare occasion where the soldiers acted oddly, or not at all. One case in point: two of my soldiers went down, and upon ordering the squad to take them back to the CASEVAC, only one soldier picked up a body, leaving the second just standing around doing nothing. When the first guy reach the CASEVAC, none of the squad would move, as if they were struggling with conflicting AI orders.

If you want full control over your characters, then Full Spectrum Warrior may be a little "distant" for you. But, for those looking for a more strategic feel to their gameplay, this title offers up a nice challenge while providing more than enough gameplay to test out your ability to command troops.

- - Kinderfeld

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