The gameplay sounds different from Ghost Recon. I'm getting this game.
Developer Pandemic Studios spills on its promising, E3 Award-winning Xbox tactical shooter
12:44 At E3 2003 this year, Pandemic Studios' Xbox tactical shooter Full Spectrum Warrior managed to walk away with the E3 2003 Game Critics Best Original Game and Best Simulation Game awards - not bad. Hence, it would be fair to surmise that the title is just that little bit special.
Full Spectrum Warrior focuses on squad-orientated action and urban combat missions, the title delivering, so we're told, "a level of realism and accuracy that has never been seen in a military-based game". FSW is actually based on an infantry-training simulator that Pandemic has designed for the U.S. Army, as such the game immersing players in a title that realistically recreates the heat of battle at squad level command.
Already holding bucket-loads of promise, Full Spectrum Warrior is definitely a title to watch out for. We recently managed to grab a few minutes with the game's director, William Henry Stahl, to find out more about what's coming.
To start off, can you give us a brief overview of Full Spectrum Warrior?
Stahl: Full Spectrum Warrior looks and feels like a third-person action game and plays kind of like a strategy game. Built on top of a U.S. Army infantry training simulation, much of the design was actually influenced by sports and role-playing games.
Basically, it feels like your playing a war movie - or maybe a CNN news reel.
As you've mentioned, Full Spectrum Warrior is based on a tactical-action, squad-simulator designed for the US Army. So, our initial reaction is that it would be best suited to the PC. Why develop it for Xbox?
Stahl: It was the U.S. Army's desire to develop on a console rather than a PC. The rationale was simple really: the intended end user of the game is a regular soldier stationed anywhere in the world. All soldiers' gear has to be durable and portable; soldiers have to be ready to go anywhere in a moments notice.
They don't have time or space to lug around a PC tower, monitor and all the peripherals, let alone worry about video card compatibility, etc. You can pretty much find a TV anywhere in the world, so all you need is the box, the controller and the disc.
We assume you're going to have to balance Full Spectrum Warrior's hardcore military aspect with, well, fun gameplay. Can you tell us about your plans and aims here?
Stahl: As it turned out, the military version of the game was pretty fun to play in its own right. What it was lacking - to a non-army individual - was feedback about what your men are doing in the game. We're adding features that deal with that issue, as well as more things your men can interact with in the world. We're also taking some liberties in terms of the objectives you'll be given.
Full Spectrum Warrior players will be in command of squads of troops, there being (from what we understand) two teams, Alpha and Bravo. Can you describe the troop make-up of each squad to us?
Stahl: FSW simulates dismounted, light infantry. A squad would be two teams of four soldiers. Each team would have a team leader, an automatic rifleman, a grenadier and a rifleman. The team leader is usually the highest-ranking member of the team.
The automatic rifleman is trained to use the M249 SAW - that is the high-casualty producing weapon. The grenadier carries the M4 with the 203-grenade launcher mounted underneath. Both the rifleman and the team leader carry the standard M4 assault rifle. Each team is usually equipped with both fragmentation and white phosphorous grenades.
How do players interact (issue orders) with Alpha and Bravo teams?
Stahl: There are two basic orders you give, a "move order" and a "fire sector order". Both are handled through special cursor systems. Move orders are given at the team level using a positional pointer you move over the terrain.
Fire sectors can also be given to the team or to individual soldiers using a targeting reticule. You can also issue "take cover" and "fall back" orders and also special orders that are relative to certain objects.
Considering the game's squad-based nature, AI will play a crucial role. What are your plans and aims for artificial intelligence - what can we expect to see here?
Stahl: Well, gamers will benefit from all the time we've spent creating the AI for the military version of the game. The Army had very high demands for the soldiers in the game. They wanted to be sure that the soldiers behaved like professional soldiers and that they could really react to situations both as individuals and also as a team.
This required a lot of more subtle AI behaviours we might not have done otherwise. Soldiers can move as a group, bound (move two by two) or stack along objects. They can cover or suppress targets, throw grenades, find cover and use it all on their own. It's actually fun to just watch them try and get out of bad situations.
They do everything they can to stay alive depending on where you've put them. As their leader, what they want to know from you is where you want them to be and what you want them to focus on.
Full Spectrum Warrior focuses on urban and street combat. What locales will we be visiting and what types of missions will we be undertaking?
Stahl: The game is set in the Middle East. That is where the military version was set and we wanted to be able to utilise most of the assets we'd already created for that version. That's also where most of today's Army operations are taking place, so it made sense to just set the story there.
The story revolves around one operation in a single, hostile city. Your squad is part of that operation until something happens that changes the main objective. I can't divulge much more about the story than that right now.
What role will military vehicles play in the game, if any?
Stahl: Light and heavy armoured units will be present in the game. These include tanks, Bradleys and HUMVEEs. There will also be helicopter support and indirect-fire support form mortars and artillery. The player will be able to interact with many of these elements.
Are you making use of Xbox's Voice Communicator Headset in any way? For example, will we be able to verbally issue orders?
Stahl: We only use the headset for communicating with players over Xbox Live. Our cursor system is actually faster and less prone to "technical issues" than voice controls when it comes to issuing orders.
Can you tell us about your Xbox Live plans at this time?
Stahl: Currently, we are planning to support a two-player co-operative mode.
How does Full Spectrum Warrior compare to the likes of Conflict: Desert Storm and the upcoming Rainbow Six 3 on Xbox?
Stahl: Both of those game will be good. They are primarily shooters however. Full Spectrum Warrior is about a different kind of experience. In FSW you are a squad's leader, in the truest sense of the word. It's all about using the men under you command to accomplish objectives.
I would say those games are tactical-action and Full Spectrum Warrior is tactical-action