Full Spectrum Warrior is set in 2004 in the fictitious country of Zekistan. Unrest is high in Zekistan with pretty much every faction and there dog fighting over pretty much everything. Though it is a made up country is does bear a striking resemblance to real life locales such as Iraq. Of course were there is trouble the US military is not far behind. This time you are in control of two teams of four, called Bravo and Alpha, and each team of four are made of up a team captain and three various rifle men. So yeah it sounds like every other squad based shooter thatís come out in the last two years. The difference in Full Spectrum Warrior is that it so unlike any other military game around you will hardly recognize it.
For starters you do not move around as in other shooters like Killzone or Call of Duty: Finest Hour, instead you point a cursor using the left analogue stick to were you want your team to go, and after a slight delay they will move to that location. It is a really weird feeling not being able to move around like normal, but you do get used to it. Also unlike other shooters there is no trigger for you to press, instead you get a circle to line up over either an area were you think they may be an enemy or where you can see an enemy. You have the options of standard fire, suppression fire or loading up a grenade or launching a missile at your target. Again it is strange at first but you eventually get over it.
Full Spectrum Warrior also punishes players who use the old tactic of running around with both guns blazing. Doing that will get one of your men killed which means game over. No here you have to plan out every step well in advance. Lets say Alpha team has spotted an enemy but it is out of range to shoot them or throw a grenade at them, you can lay down some suppression fire, then with a tap of the triangle button take control of team Bravo who can sneak up on the enemy with a better position and take them out while they are pinned down by alphas fire. It is a pretty complex system, but as the get better at it the game becomes quite rewarding. Tactics and strategy are the name of this game, which is rare for shooters but once you get your head around not being able to run and gun you will find taking down your enemies to be a very rewarding experience. It is also a very realistic experience; in fact Full Spectrum Warrior began life as a training device for the US military.
The main issue I have with this game is that the first few hours of it will turn many a potential customer away. I can imagine quite a few people giving up on it before they have given it a chance. Another problem is that it there is a lengthy delay between pressing a button and actually seeing your team respond. For someone like me who is not a big strategy fan, some of the missions can become quite hard; I always seemed to be getting attacked by someone I didnít see, only to have one of my men gunned down and then going back to my last save point to continue. It might be just my lack of skill or patience, but I am sure I am not the only one that will struggle through some of the missions. The biggest problem I have with the gameplay itself is that for a strategy game it is incredibly linear. There is rarely more than one way to perform a mission, which for this type of game simply isnít right. More free roaming would have given the game more depth and replayability.
Full Spectrum Warrior for the most part does look pretty good. The character animations are pretty good and the environments do a serviceable job. It certainly isnít as visually impressive as the top tier of Playstation 2 games, but overall the game does a serviceable job in the visual department.
Without doubt Full Spectrum Warrior is the hardest game to review I have done so far, on one hand I am not a strategy fan and found the game incredibly frustrating in patches. On the other hand I could see the work that has gone into the game and that fans of strategy games or military buffs will lap it up. If you are a fan of this genre you really should add a few points to my overall score as I am sure you will get more out of it than me. One thing is for sure Pandemic has created another high quality game and continues to build an awesome reputation for themselves. So I found the game to be different than the normal military game but just didnít quite find enough to make it an essential purchase for me, for those who have a bit more patience there is a cracking game there waiting to be played.
Review By: Graham Darko