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Full Spectrum Warrior
(hx) 05:57 PM EST - Nov,09 2004

Believe it or not Full Spectrum Warrior is based on a training aid that was originally developed for the US army as a squad command training simulator and only later did publisher THQ and developer Pandemic Studios (Battlezone II, Dark Reign 2, and Star Wars: Clone Wars makers) decide to turn it into commercial video game about modern squad tactics. In it, you must command two squads of four men, commanding them as you work your way through enemy territory accomplishing your goals without losing a single man.

In the game you command two teams through a series of missions in a fictional Middle Eastern country not too dissimilar to Afghanistan or Iraq. Each of the Alpha and Bravo outfits consists of four men: a team leader, an automatic rifleman, a grenadier and another rifleman. Each man is also equipped with a very limited number of frag and smoke grenades for use during the course of their missions. Instead of taking direct control of your troops, you issue orders to the team leaders, through simple context sensitive interface. For example if you place the movement cursor behind some car wreckage, you confirm the command and your squad will take cover behind it. Firing is also pretty simple, with a button click assigning a sector for a squad to concentrate their aim on. Aside from that, you can throw a frag grenade at enemies, provide temporary cover with a smoke grenade, pop a slightly more devastating rocket-propelled 40mm grenade (M203) at them, or in the case of tanks and so on call in an air support.

The key to keeping your men alive is cover. Each move has to be thought out, corners need to be checked, and you need to keep your troops out of open sight. Giving orders to your squad sets off a string of detailed animations that look fairly lifelike and are a pleasure to watch. Coordinated action (you have to switch between these two teams on the fly) is the key to successful problem solving on the field and each encounter with the enemy will present a riddle so to speak, which you'll have to solve in order to finish your objective and get to the next save point (there is no quick-save feature). Most of the time you will have at least two squads to worry about so you'll often have squads on different parts of the map supporting each others attacks. This can sometimes be tricky and you'll need your GPS to help launch coordinated attacks. If one of your soldiers is wounded, you get a new primary objective to aid him then get him to the closest evacuation site for treatment. If you can get to your wounded soldier in time, your team will stabilize his wounds and carry him around with them, which greatly reduce not only their speed, but their firepower. Luckily, each level has Casevacs that serve as mobile hospitals.. If even one team member dies, the game is over. The army has zero tolerance for casualties. To get through the game you will need to have caution, patience and quick thinking under fire.

In terms of multiplayer, Full Spectrum Warrior features a co-op mode where you command one fire team while the other player commands the other. Needless to say this makes for some really cool gameplay and teamwork possibilities. It's unfortunate that the game doesn't include a competitive multiplayer mode, though I don't know if that would really work with this game.

Full Spectrum Warrior on PC is one of the best tactical games I've ever played. The action is intense and the learning curve in my eyes is less than a half hour. Sure, this game can be repetitive and monotonous because of the same sort of objectives throughout the game - mainly the objectives are to just killing enemies. But hey that's war! If you like military-themed action games, it's definitely worth a buy for $35. However, don't buy this expecting a huge online community.

related links: playable demo (301MB), homepage

System Requirements
Minimum: AMD Athlon XP 1 GHz or Pentium III 1 GHz, 256 MB RAM,  DirectX 9.0c-compatible graphics card from NVIDIA or ATI (GeForce 3 and higher or ATI Radeon 8500 and higher), DirectX 9.0c-compatible sound card, 24X CD-ROM, 1.77 GB Free Hard Drive Space, MS Compatible mouse, Keyboard
NOTE: Internet play requires broadband connection and latest drivers

Recommended: AMD Athlon XP 2000+ and above or Pentium 4 2GHz and above, 512 MB RAM or greater, GeForce 4 Ti and higher, or ATI Radeon 9500 and higher, DirectX 9.0c-compatible sound card (SoundBlaster Audigy preferred).

snd: 5/5 - well-worth pumping out your speakers, each of your troops has a unique voice - too many repetitious phrases though, music fits well
gfx: 4/5 - looks really good, excellent animations, extremely realistic, impressive ambient effects, ability to save your replay, some clipping issues, you can't skip the cut-scenes in between gameplay sequences
playability: 5/5 - very unique - enjoyable, challenging, and entertaining, intuitive controls, co-op mode (2 players via LAN/Internet), can get very frustratingly hard at certain parts of the game, AI could be better, no MP competitive play
genre: military tactical sim
platform: PC (also available on Xbox)
release: September 2004
developer: Pandemic Studios
publisher: THQ
Overall: 86%

last 10 comments:

Stumpus(06:54 PM EST - Nov,09 2004 )
Good review, yes it's repetitive but it's fun! If you like military tactics then people that enjoyed 'Operation Flashpoint' will get a small kick out of FSW.

I bought the PC version, the XBox version looked easier to control but i didn't like the graphics :lol:

Anonymous(09:08 AM EST - Nov,12 2004 )
Soldiers are extremely slow to react on enemy fire, missions are somewhat repetitive and what kind of army gives each squad GPS locator but does not give them any kind of AT weapon (LAW or something) ?

I mean, destroying an armored vehicle by planting explosive on it's tracks ? Ridiculous, that was WWII way of doing it.

Anonymous(08:28 PM EST - Nov,12 2004 )

Anonymous(10:24 PM EST - Nov,13 2004 )
The game sucks at multiplayer. Tried to play it at home lan but couldn't host a game always a network error. Tried to serach the forums and found other people having same kind of problems. No tech support and absolutely no help provided along the with the product. Conceptually very nice and interesting. Could have been better.

Anonymous(06:18 PM EST - Nov,14 2004 )

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