After some time, Full Spectrum Warrior has arrived on the PS2 and, while it isn't all it could be, it is still a very competent military strategy game. Terrorists have emigrated to Zekistan after U.S.-led operations in Iraq and Afghanistan drove them out, and it is your job to lead your two teams, Alpha and Bravo, on a terrorist hunting trip. That about sums things up. As is usually the case in this type of game, story is not a big focus, with little more than kill the terrorists? to keep things moving. Not that this is a real surprise, but a little more insight into what is going on would have been nice.
When you first create a profile and start the game you have the option of going through a tutorial level. Though it is very thorough, the tutorial is agonizingly long and tedious. It took me nearly an hour to complete. So this leaves you with quite the decision: sit through training and nearly be sick of the game before it begins, or dive into the game without a clue. Whatever your decision, try not to get burned out too early. Once you actually figure out how to play things get really fun. Controls are easy to learn and commands are simple to execute. Makes you wonder why the tutorial needs to be so long winded, huh? Simply use the left analog stick to place your movement marker, then X to move. Other commands such as bounding? build off of this.
The interface itself, however, is something of a mixed bag. Instead of the God view? you often get in this type of game, the camera is more-or-less mounted to the shoulder of your active man. For me this gave the game a much more realistic perspective and literally puts you in the thick of battle. Another feature I was a real fan of was the method of issuing commands to your troops. Once you input a command, the team leader must receive the message over the radio and relay the order to the team before you watch the command get executed. This adds a great amount of realism and also makes for some tense moments in the heat of battle. Unfortunately, with the good comes the bad. While the command delay adds realism, it can also make for some aggravatingly ridiculous moments. For example, maneuvering from the side of a car to behind the car should not take fifteen seconds to execute. As far as controls go, the only real problem lies in trying to position your movement marker. There were several of times I got my little twirling marker stuck alongside a tree or I just couldn't get the darn thing to go around a car or a corner. All in all, it's not a bad system, but it could definitely use some work.
Fighting is fun and often challenging, but not necessarily in the way it should be. More often than not I felt like I was trying to beat the system instead of the guy shooting at me. If your enemy is protected from your fire, you will know via a shield icon above their head. The same goes for your men. However, once an enemy finds suitable cover, he will just sit there and unload endless amounts of ammo at you. If you wouldn't eventually run out of ammo, you could literally leave your PS2 on over the weekend and the battle would still be raging when you got back. Making the enemy AI even less impressive is their reactions to other events. Throwing grenades is particularly enjoyable due to the fact that your target will see the grenade land, stand there and scream, and then wonder what would be the appropriate course of action. For some reason they always choose wrong?
Graphically, this game is nothing to write home about. The urban environments vary throughout the course of the game and are detailed enough to get the job done, but I grew tired of seeing the same textureless, box-shaped car over and over again. Character models are a little better with more detail and decent animations. But despite writers' efforts to make each of your team members unique through personality and an unfortunately irrelevant background, it is very tough to tell who is who.
Despite its shocking mediocrity in the graphical department, I loved what I heard coming out of my speakers. Explosions and gunfire sound excellent. This includes the distant fighting you hear in the background. The voice acting is also fantastic. It really helps you get into the game when you can sense some true emotion in your commander's voice. As I said before, the creators tried to give each of your team members their own personality and make you think of them as more than just bots. Unfortunately, you rarely get any input from your team except for when they decide to chirp in with some random, usually profane, comment. I like the effort to generate authentic? battle dialogue, and there were many times it sounded like your troops were genuinely angry, but there were also times when the profanity seemed forced and out of place. One odd thing I did find was that whenever you receive a command from base over the radio, the camera needs to be fairly close to the team leader in order to hear what is being said. On top of this, your fellow gunmen seem to find this the perfect time to spit out some totally unrelated piece of verbiage. There were several times I found myself actually yelling at my TV, telling my men to shut the hell up.
Full Spectrum Warrior is a very good game, but it has several drawbacks that keep it from being a great game. The clunky maneuvering of the movement marker will irritate you at times, and the poor enemy AI will sometimes disappoint, but occasionally entertain. Also, the lack of any objectives other than complete the mission? gives this one a fairly low replay value. If you aren't a fan of the genre, don't expect this game to do much for you. But if you are a fan of military strategy games this one would make an excellent weekend time waster.