STAFF REVIEW of Full Spectrum Warrior (Xbox)

Thursday, June 3, 2004.
by Sheeyt

Full Spectrum Warrior Box art Picture this, you\'re in a hostile country, you\'re there for peace keeping reasons, you\'re there to eliminate a dictator, and rid the country of terrorists, but the locals don\'t see it that way. It\'s hot, dusty and you want to go home, but you\'re a soldier, you know your duty. In Full Spectrum Warrior you take charge of 2 fire team squads \"Alpha\" and \"Bravo.\" You issue field commands just as a commander in the field would. You relay the message to the team leaders and the team leaders issue the orders to their squad, just like a real chain of command in the United States Army.

A little history of Full Spectrum Warrior. This game was originally created as a training simulation for in urban combat for the United States military. Pandemic was asked by the military to create a realistic, life like simulation they could have real soldiers practice with. That\'s where THQ comes in. THQ saw this as a perfect opportunity to benefit on the amazing realism of this simulation, thus they asked Pandemic to put a story behind it, add some personality to the in game soldiers and THQ would mass market the game as a revolutionary new game for the Xbox. Giving gamers an idea of what its like to control two military units deep in urban combat.

What the game lacks in the gameplay department, it makes up for in realism and other departments.

Revolutionary is right, this game screams realism. You start off going through some intense training levels, where you\'ll learn fire orders, moving from cover to cover, proper use of grenades and a few other important tactics. The training levels are so deep that you learn everything you\'ll need for battle in urban combat. To be honest after I finished the training levels I felt as if I could be in the Army.

Once the training is over you\'re thrown into the mix. Pandemic has created a fictional country called Zekistan where a dictator has been ethnic cleansing, not to mention harboring terrorists. The UN has moved into Zekistan to remove this evil person, but not without heavy resistance.

There are so many small things that add up to one impressive whole with Full Spectrum Warrior. For instance by holding down one of the controller buttons you will display a \"fog of war\" what this does is make the area\'s around your unit that are not directly sighted by one of your soldiers blurry to indicate you are vulnerable from that area.

Both of your team leaders come equiped with GPS systems which you can access at anytime to look for alternate routes, or even call in recon flights to help you locate targets.

Each team is comprised of four soldiers. A team leader, grenadire, rifleman, and automatic rifleman. Each soldier is selectable by using the corresponding direction on the direction pad. Each soldier carries frag grenades however you are limited, the grenadire carries the gun mounted grenade launcher, and you\'re also equiped with smoke grenandes. Since grenades are so few lobbing grenades isn\'t always the answer. Also you can easily move between the two units by pressing the \"Y\" button.

The main focus of Full Spectrum Warrior is alot of engaging with one unit, while the other flanks an entrenched enemy. When engaging an entrenched enemy if they have good cover and you have good cover you will shoot at eachother until everyone is blue in the face, but no one will be killed. Thats where the flanking comes in. You must use your GPS and find routes with your other team to successfully flank enemies. However this isn\'t always the case. Sometimes you\'ll come to a situation where enemies can\'t be flanked and you may have to use a team to lay down suppressive fire while your other team moves up. When a team moves up on an enemy that is dug in, that enemy will usually fall back for farther cover. Until you\'ve pushed them far enough back where the area is more open and the cover is less available. Not all cover is good cover though, things like cars, sofa\'s, boxes will splinter and eventually be destroyed leaving you vulnerable. More on that later.

One very cool feature about Full Spectrum Warrior is the replay. Every single mission you do is recorded and saved. You can watch your replay\'s again to impress yourself or you can use them to learn from your mistakes. If you are killed in battle you can load the last saved replay, watch your actions as you did them come to the part where you may have made a bad decission, realize what you did wrong and know how to correct it. From that spot in the replay you can choose to \"jump into replay.\" This will insert you right into that specific moment in that replay, so that you can correct your mistake and make the mission successful.

Just like the Army has zero tolerence for casualties Full Spectrum Warrior has zero tolerence as well. If a soldier is killed it\'s mission failed. However it\'s not one shot kills here, unless of course you\'re kissing an rpg. When a soldier is down, a skull will appear in his spot on the direction pad you have a certain amount of time from the time he goes down until the time he dies. You must secure that soldier before he dies or mission failed. Once you have secured that soldier one of his team mates will hoist him onto their soldiers. This ultimately slows this soldier down and renders him useless in gun fights. However it also slows your entire squad down, because they will move as slow as the man carrying the wounded.

Your progress is constantly being saved throughout missions at designated locations called ; (situation reports). This spots will save your game and replay\'s. Also as you advance through missions you will come across \"CasEvac\'s\" or medical stations and resupply trucks. When you have a wounded soldier this is where you take him, when you are low on ammo this is where you resupply. A soldier in the field with no ammo is a dead man, so conserving ammo is important.

Full Spectrum Warrior offers two levels of difficulty one being a normal mode and the other a hard mode. The hard mode offers more enemies and less grenades.

Unfortunately the AI in the game I think could\'ve been much improved. They do run for cover and they do engage you before you engage them. However sometimes they jump out right in front of you. Example I was checking around the corner of an ally and a bad guy just jumped out into the middle of the ally and stood there, I easily gunned him down. Also as I said before alot of the game is flanking, and there is no random action by the enemies. Everything is scripted so you begin to learn where they will be and some things become more or less trial and error.

When you\'re done toying around with the single player game you can hop online and with a buddy you can lead your teams through the story mode in a cooperative gameplay. One of you controls alpha team and the other bravo team. On Xbox Live you can also trade replays with friends and other players to see how they may have executed a particular situation.

I am extremely impressed with the visuals in this game. Pandemic focused on realism even in the graphics department. Texture\'s up close are a little bland, but from a distance everything is pretty. Each soldier has specific equipment on his person, the team leader carries the all important field radios. The enviorments are big and really gives the feel of a Middle East setting.

The partical effects are very nice as well. If you\'re using a corner for cover and an enemy is firing away at you, the corners will chip away. You\'ll never become exposed because its just little bits here and there but its impressive none the less. Now some other forms of cover you won\'t be so fortunate. Sofa\'s will be blown to pieces, crates will be fully destroyed, cars eventually blown up. If you\'re taking fire from behind a car you can see the bullet holes correspond with the incoming bullets. Car doors will swing open and closed, bumpers will fall off. Cover is represnted by a shield above your heads or an enemies head. If you are in solid cover a solid shield will appear. If you or an enemy is behind destructable cover this will be indicated by a shield with an \"energy bar\" so to say, once that bar is gone you or they are vulnerable.

Throughout the city streets you move through you\'ll see posters of actual real life terrorists on the walls namely Kahlid Sheik Mohammad, and other posters you\'ve probably seen on the nightly news. Dust will blow around, papers and other debris gets picked up in the wind. Looking directly at the sun gives a glaring hazy effect. When you call in a recon flight the \"small bird\" helicopter will fly over head. The streets are also littered with cars, crates, sandbags, dumpsters and tons of other things to seek for cover.

The character models are very detailed, each soldier looks different has unique features and a distinct appearance each also as a very different personality. The team leader of the bravo team even has an appropriately placed NYPD on the back of his helmet. You soldiers will act concerned when a fellow soldier goes down, and be releived when he is given medical treatment. You frequently recieve radio communications while in the field, this is indicated by a flashing red light on the team leaders radio unit.

The animation is amazingly smooth in this game. Everything from running, to positioning themselves for better shots, throwing grenades, scouping up a wounded team mate.

The game uses the ever growing popular rag doll physics for death animations, some can be pretty amusing especially when the death comes as the result of a grenade or rpg.

The game does display in 480p. So those who have HDTV\'s will get an even better picture.

The final piece to Full Spectrum Warrior is the sound. The sound is by far my favorite part of the game. The music, guns, grenades, helicopters and the chatter between squadmates.

The in game music sounds like music taken directly from the movie Black Hawk Down, a mixture of rock and Middle Eastern.

The guns all sound extremely realistic. When my automatic rifleman poked his head around the corner and started ripping loose with the M429 SAW I got goosebumps, especially when I saw his target drop. There are times when you have to call in mortor or artillery back up, the explosions sound like you could be right there in the battle. Tie that in with a nice 5.1 dolby digital surround sound system and you\'ve got yourself a nice gaming experience.

But the best part comes from the chatter among squadmates. They normally chat with eachother, make silly comments or cuss like a sailor. Yes the game does have a lot of vulgarity, and not just stopping with a few bad words, you will frequently here the \"F\" word fly around. But I guess that adds to the realism of being in a combat zone. When you are controlling one unit and the other unit is under fire, you will hear them reporting into the team leader of the unit you\'re currently watching. You will hear all this through that team leaders radio pack.

Alot of the dialogue is very military authentic. Words like \"squawk\" (radio)and other military lingo is common in this game. In one spot two of your squad joke about not knowing what the \"squawk\" is.

The sound of Full Spectrum Warrior is the final piece that brings together a extremely realistic and new style of game.

I would suggest improved enemy AI. While the AI of the two teams is great, the enemies seem a little dumb. Less scripted actions from the AI. The ability to enter buildings. Are just a few suggestions.

Overall: 8.4 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.2 / 10
Sound: 9.6 / 10


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