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Submitted by Chris Leyton on June 22 2004 - 00:00

TVG has been waiting eagerly to get our hands on this title for ages after seeing the early code, as well as interviewing the team, Pandemic Studios.

For those of you who donâ??t know about the game Full Spectrum Warrior is a tough, gritty and above all realistic war game based on a training simulator, which was developed for the US Army. If you think about it, what does that mean? Based on a simulation, which is based on real events? Well some other games are based on real events also! Fact is, and put another way, with the right kind of input and understanding about the detailed aspects and eventualities of war, which Pandemic has in abundance, creating a game of high tension and realism should be a simple process especially having worked with the US Army!

It does appear that from the recent abundance of war games and shooters, tactical sneak and stealth titles, there appears to be a trend growing. Where once a shooter was a shooter and a tactical game required constant astute shifting of resources, positions and other strategies â?“ the war shooter is becoming a finer mix of real live â??action takesâ?? and situations, that are edge of the seat situations. Game developers are trying to get into the mind set of a soldier and have recently realised itâ??s not all about pretty graphics â?“ itâ??s about the behavoural qualities of the men! Yes, we are gradually, with the pace speedily up, moving to encounters that look like you are actually there â?“ which is the premise of many videogamers aspirations.

From the moment you load Full Spectrum Warrior up you momentarily gasp as the quality of detail and the real sense of foreboding, which many games do not offer, chucks itself in your face â?“ both visually and audibly!

Occasionally you play a game that immerses and captivates but underneath you know itâ??s a game, rarely do you play a game and say to yourself, wow, this is very near the mark and this is what it must feel like running around in the midst of mayhem and carnage. Where you are so vulnerable that one mere wrong move could see a hole blown into one of you comrades heads! Creating the setting, getting real empathy is more than great graphics; itâ??s about true understanding. Now before we gush too much, lets point out that Full Spectrum through its infinite detail switches you into this mode from the starting point, which is also pretty unusual!

As far as reviews go, we believe you can already sense where this is going and it would be futile to try to move along the usual course in reviewing this title. Highlighting what makes this different and better than the rest is our focus but then again only by seeing it can you understand what we are trying to convey.

Full Spectrum Warrior is set in the fictional country of Zekistan which is one of those war torn settings that have large buildings, burnt out cars and a feel of desolation but you also know there is a thriving community living there â?“ hidden and underground. Before you head for the killing zone a little tester and the familiar dose of training action is encounter. The tutorial is simple, straight to the point and essential!

Letâ??s say it is not easy but then again nor is war. If you care to spot any grumbles with the game here is the first and you will not see many more. The game is hard, bloody hard, to the point of frustration but then again there is no real alternative if you want to present it like it is!

Simultaneously controlling two fire teams in your squad, Alpha and Zero, is a tough task, where each soldier has their own distinct role within the team. Finding out and familiarising yourself with their role and your own does not take long in itself but keeping on top of the whole situation and feeling competent of your commands will never possibly be 100% which is why Full Spectrum is so full of life, verve and cutting edge that keeps you gripped. If you learnt the rules and became the master of all your decisions in one go then war would be pretty pointless. Itâ??s not all about brains, brawn and strategy â?“ itâ??s about being in the right spot at the right time, also with a dash of luck!

Now with what we say next there will surely be a large percentage of readers who have been excited about this so far but may end up going elsewhere on reading this but you will be missing out. Full Metal Spectrum is a military simulation on the action and events. You are there, you see what is going on and the whole full picture and setting in there in real life Technicolor BUT you do not shoot the enemy as a kind of one on one action. This is all about strategy and tactical awareness. Itâ??s all about the way you move and set things up â?“ getting into range â?“ planning and executing a series of quite deep and logical moves and exercises. Believe us, itâ??s more than enough and more than we have seen in such quality and expertise to date!

Fact is this might seem off-putting initially and all you want to do is to kill those bleeders and waste them and see them take some hot metal but the way the game runs and the mechanics of your commands and movement of the squad it does feel like you are in the midst of the action â?“ which you are, and there are no real debilitating facets that spoil it. In this instance it is only possible in words to convey the real essence of it all unless you are sitting in front of the screen experiencing it yourself!

The controls are ingenious and you can easily switch between the two teams with a single press of the Y button. Picking out individual members of both the fire teams is done via their assigned positions on the D pad. Getting familiar with each individual soldier and their specific tasks takes some time but these soldiers are smart and know the basics anyway!

With great use of sound and dialogue, more than your mere incidental add ins, you soon get a certain amount of synergy, with the two fire-teams, each with four soldiers. The soldiers in your charge also have distinct personalities that you'll come to recognise over the course of the game.

Getting things moving also takes some time but the intuitive controls always give you a helping hand. Ascertaining, assimilating and actuating the teams in an orderly fashion is very hit and miss early on and although it does get better analyzing every move and eventuality will, with some players, open up the option to take some unnecessary risk and this will be their downfall. Making contingency plans in your head and acting on them in a split second is a good safeguard once you get to understand the sequence of events! There are no quick options here. If you havenâ??t got patience then forget about succeeding in Full Spectrum Warrior!

You can tell your two fire-teams to move, including using a variety of formations. You can also tell them to attack enemies with their standard weapons or grenades. It is also worth mentioning that there are so many different ways to solve the game's scenarios that even after you fail one time it does not mean you will fail on replay with the same procedures!

We can trip the light fantastic and write oodles of prose about the nature of the missions and create the perfect scenario chronicling every move, weapon and incident we faced. We can also go step by step through the night mission, where you sneak around undercover moving into vulnerable spots where flushing out the enemy is impossibly hard!

Expounding the literal explosive outcome of many confrontations, where smoke billows from ruins and a haze of dust never seems to settle to the ground and where in a tight spot you see no real way out of the mayhem you feel so frustrated at all the effort you have put into 20 mins of flushing out potential antagonists all to no avail make this a game of highs and lows!

There are many intricacies of positional movement â?“ covering yourself and setting up manoeuvres it is almost impossible to pick the best example to choose!

So many aspects of the game stand out but there are two at the very top, apart from the graphical quality using the Havok 2 engine and the immense amount of detail onscreen that is displayed (ammo percentage, movement â?“ teams) but not taking the eye away from the action, it must be the camera view and manipulation and movement of the soldiers which is laboured, agile and slow when it needs to be!

You are informed that the battlefield is static, which in laymanâ??s terms means that you constantly need to look around and the zoom function is a cool feature, but so are other options.

Full Spectrum is possibly the closest we have come to the real mechanics and certain aspects of conveying the real elements and nature of war.

It creates a whole new feel to a game; itâ??s more an experience than a game....

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  • Graphics: 93%
     
  • Sound: 92%
     
  • Gameplay: 94%
     
  • Originality: 91%
     
  • Longevity: 90%
     
Overall Score: 9/10
Full Spectrum Warrior is one of the smartest and most informed ways we have seen in creating a realistic setting/atmosphere in a game and this offers so much more than you can possibly image. It’s both convincing and you become fascinated by the personnel under your command that you just don’t want to see them maimed in anyway! The full backdrop of warmongering hardware and support attachments creates the epic backdrop to the soldiers’ struggles.

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