home > review > archive > Full Spectrum Warrior
GamesFirst! Online since 1995

View Image Gallery || Get Prices

Full Spectrum Warrior
game: Full Spectrum Warrior
four star
posted by: Blaine Krumpe
publisher: THQ
developer: Pandemic Studios
ESRB rating: M (Mature)
date posted: 12:00 AM Fri Nov 26th, 2004
last revision: 12:00 AM Fri Nov 26th, 2004

Advertise on GamesFirst!

Click to read.

Full Spectrum Warrior combines some very tried and true real time strategy concepts; however, the game excels in the presentation and overall atmosphere of the environments.  Pandemic Studios originally developed this title for use by the U.S. Army as a training aid, but soon realized that they could easily market this game to the public as a gritty wartime strategy game.


The story behind FSW is a little redundant.  You are a squad sent to an Arabian country to liberate the people from an oppressive dictator.  Along the way, your heroic troops will face many people carrying AK-47's.  And?well?that really does sum it up.  Don't get turned off though, this is just the backing to the game -- during game play you forget all about this redundant plot usage.


What surprised me right out of the box was the control scheme of Full Spectrum.  I had envisioned the interface of Rainbow Six or other similar shooters.  But alas, you actually never control your troops from their perspective in order to fire.  Besides lobbing grenades at enemies; which you do from first person, you indirectly control your troop movement from a third person camera that constantly provides movie like qualities to the game.  From this perspective you command your squad to use cover, lay suppressing fire, flank the enemy, or lay down smoke screens.  However, from this view, your line of sight is the same as theirs, when they run, you trail right behind.  You are in essence a photo journalist watching the action unfold right in front of you.


During most of the game you are given two eight man squads to control, Alpha and Bravo.  Within these squads you have various men that take on different roles depending upon their weapon, i.e. grenadier, sniper, etc.  Knowing how to work each man and use them to their full potential is essentially a third of the strategy in the game.  Another third is being able to coordinate your second squad with your first in order to eliminate the enemy as efficiently as you can.  Finally, you must make sure that your men stay behind cover as best as you possibly can.  This is easily accomplished though -- both you and your enemies have little shield icons above their heads to indicate who is in danger of being a bullet trap and who can sit down and enjoy the view.


There is a unique element of this game that I found to be really interesting and made the game even more realistic.  Upon giving a move or fire order to your troops, your squad leader has to first issue the order, then the troops will react and carry out whatever you told them to do.  This lag is noticeable and realistic; however, when you are in the thick of fighting, and the enemy flanks you, there will definably be a few tense moments as your squad leader must first issue the move before anything happens.  Sometimes this is frustrating, but it added to the overall realism of the game.  Another unique and funny aspect is the banter of your troops.  You will mostly be hearing from your squad leader, however, your grunts will chirp in under different circumstances, saying things that I really shouldn't repeat in this review?.


There is a lack of adequate AI.  I was disappointed with this aspect of the game.  Your enemies are just little mindless bots that will shoot endless amounts of ammo at you if they are in a well covered area.  Which, for the most part, is how your enemy is entrenched.  Your squad AI, on the other hand, is excellent, though erratic, and sometimes forces you to issue orders more than once.  For the most part it's really in tune with the realism of the game.  Sometimes I would be struck by how good a flank move was by the enemy; however, in most cases it's scripted and redundant.  Other times, the enemy would simply stand there as my men gunned him down, or just look at the grenade that I just lobbed at him and scream, but not move.  While playing through on the default difficulty setting it is easy to anticipate the enemy.  Setting the game to harder levels of difficulty just means that the enemy is simply less forgiving, less likely to let mistakes go unpunished, not smarter. 


In terms of graphics and sound, FSW really does excel. Your men are incredibly lifelike as they go about their work.  The environments are varied given the redundant nature of the urban setting.  The soundtrack meshes with gameplay incredibly well, and you will feel at times like you are watching an actual movie.  When it comes down to it, a lot of the game appeal comes from the great graphics and good soundtrack.  The best I've seen as of late for the shooters out there. 


Overall, this game does kick some serious butt; however, with the good, comes the ugly.  I found the missions to be highly linear.  You are entirely confined to the ground when you are fighting.  You are unable to venture into buildings even though your enemies are laying down lead from a third story window.  This became a little frustrating, as I could see many useful positions that I was unable to obtain.  Your squad has no variance in weapon armament; it's simply the same equipment in each level.  This was incredibly redundant, as I was longing for some new killing prowess.  The learning curve is a little steep too, but once you have learned the skills necessary, there really isn't a higher plane that you can obtain.  Gameplay boils down to flanking, cover fire, smoke screens, and some made dashes where you cross your fingers and just hope.


When it comes down to it, this game gives the shooter genre a new breath of fresh air.  Given some of the repetitive nature of the game, it really is exhilarating and graphically amazing.  You'll come to know your men and think of them as people, not just little bots.  I was really impressed with the realism that the graphics were able to convey.  This game is a real hit in my book. 



Click images for larger version

Click for larger. Click for larger. Click for larger. Click for larger. Click for larger. Click for larger. Click for larger.