Full Spectrum Warrior


posted 12/7/2004 by Dave Gamble
other articles by Dave Gamble
One Page Platforms: PC
With such a low tolerance for casualties, the name of the game is caution. You simply can't go running around shooting everything that moves. Instead, you move from cover to cover, hiding behind anything you can find. You coordinate the movements of your two squads so one is always available to come to the aid of the other if you get pinned down. You move using the mouse - you click the right mouse button to bring up the movement arrow, place it where you want your squad to do, and click the left mouse button. The squad will move towards the directed spot. As you're placing the cursor in various possible places, icons will come up on the screen showing you what kind of cover your squad will have when they get there. That's no guarantee of their safety, though. Cover is seldom useful if you manage to get on the wrong side of it. I've lost a few squads when I placed them up against one of the many dumpsters or cars laying around, only to find that I had left my squad open to an attack from the rear.

The movement scheme works pretty well, but at times it can be frustrating trying to get the cursor exactly where you want it. It tends to hop around the screen at times, and it can also be difficult to see past obstructions. There were times when I had to move a squad out of cover, leaving them completely exposed, just so I could a clear view of where I wanted to put the cursor.

There are save points throughout each mission, synonymous I suppose with rest breaks for real life squads. And as I suspect is somewhat realistic if you buy into that comparison, they either come before you really need one, or long after you started wishing for one. There are parts of certain missions that I was really tired of before I completed them successfully and got to a save point. Other times it felt like I hadn't really done anything significant enough to warrant a rest. Oh well, that's the life of a soldier.

The ambiance of the urban battlefield is nicely done. The architecture of the theatre, Zekistan, is very reminiscent of areas in which we currently see footage of urban fighting on the nightly news. The background music is unobtrusive, but mid-eastern enough to give you an idea of where the fictional country of Zekistan falls in the current political spectrum. The movements and conversation of your squad are very realistic, with the conversation being realistic enough that you will want to keep young, impressionable members of your family out of the room while you're playing.

There is co-op multiplayer available as well. In this mode, you control one of the squads while the other is controlled by the online player. Given the need for communication and coordination between you and the other squad, a voice link-up would make for a realistic and satisfying experience. The pace of play is pretty controllable, though, so keyboard chat is still a viable alternative.

Full Spectrum Warrior presents a realistic and somewhat addictive new type of game play. While I would liked to have had a bit more variety (the ability to carry a fight inside a building, for example), it is a very impressive first effort for this new genre. I look forward to the sequel!

Based on a training aid developed for the U.S. Army, Full Spectrum Warrior is a realistic and vivid simulation of modern urban warfare. It’s not a First Person Shooter, nor is it a Real Time Strategy game. FSW fits into a new genre best described as “Real Time Tactical.” This one is definitely worth a look!

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