The easiest way to describe a game is to simply compare it to another title, which offers a similar experience. Unfortunately, Full Spectrum Warrior is perhaps one of the most original games released on Xbox this year. As labeled on the rear side of the game case, Full Spectrum Warrior is located within the strategic squad-based combat genre. The two other games that come in mind when reading this are Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six. Both arguably suffering from frequent rehashing without any considerable changes to the games themselves. Going back to the topic, Full Spectrum Warrior truly does offer something original in terms of gameplay, which is a much-needed revival of the rather repetitive genre.
You are thrown into an environment which seems to resemble Iraq, controlling squads Alpha and Bravo, and occasionally a Charlie team, depending on the mission objectives. The majority of the time though, you'll only be controlling the two squads, each consisting of 4 soldiers. Surprisingly, you are not actually assigned to play the role of one of these characters. Instead, you strategically manage all soldiers at once, switching through characters as their equipment is needed. The 4 soldiers in each squad each have an individual weapon/role assigned to them. First you have the Team Leader, who issues the orders, next is the Autorifleman who is best at taking out enemies at close range, third is the Grenadier who obviously blows the hell out of things and finally, the Rifleman who shoots enemies at long range. The most original aspect of the gameplay is the way in which you order your squads to perform tasks. You do not simply choose a soldier and walk him around as you pull your gun trigger at anything that moves. What happens is; you move a curser-like arrow around the environment, which changes depending on what objects are located near the curser.
For example, Alpha team is standing in the middle of the street and suddenly starts receiving fire from an enemy, you move the curser behind the nearest object which will provide suitable cover and press the action button. The squad will quickly move to that position and take cover behind the object. If the team is safe from fire, a small shield icon will be displayed above their heads. From here, you will most likely send a little lead back towards the enemy. To do this, you simply press the fire sector button, which results in an oval-like line appearing on the screen. You move this line around the area that you wish your squad to fire upon and then press the action button. The squad will keep firing until the enemy is killed, you cancel the task or worst off one of your own is killed. Moving back a little, an alternative to just allowing Alpha team waste half of their ammunition on a cunning enemy hiding behind a bunker is using Bravo team to flank him for a far more efficient kill.
The most important element in Full Spectrum Warrior's gameplay, no doubt, is tactics. Although it can be frustrating at times, it is a hell of a lot more rewarding when you plan out and execute an advanced strategy to bring down a group of enemies and maybe even a tank. Using the full potential of all your squads and their soldiers is an important part in completing the mission objectives. Bursting out into the open and attempting to 'run and gun' every enemy you see will get you no where in this game. It is all about tactics and carefully planning your attacks. A well thought out attack may need to include one of the grenades located in your inventory. You have both FRAG and Smoke grenades at your disposal, which are both extremely effective, given the right situation. A FRAG is a great way to flush out an enemy hiding behind an unbreakable object. The Smoke grenades are the perfect way to set up a flank on a difficult enemy. Throwing one to block the enemies line of sight between you and a side alleyway may give you the opportunity to sneak up behind them and get the cheap shot in the back.
The realism of the game is quite incredible. One feature that outlines this is the 'solider view'. Pressing the soldier view button will amazingly grey-out the blind spots of your soldiers in the environment. In a little more detail, if all your soldiers are facing north, obviously everything in the southern direction will be grayed out when you hit this button. What it means is that if an enemy jumps you in one of these greyed out areas, your team is extremely vulnerable. It is important to make sure each area which could contain an enemy is being watched to ensure all your soldiers survive. The multiplayer aspect to Full Spectrum Warrior is limited to Xbox Live. It is only possible to play with one other person cooperatively. Given the style of gameplay which is offered, this is acceptable. Although it was rather disappointing to find the lack of a System Link mode. One complaint towards the gameplay is the fact that all levels are out-door street-like environments. You are always on the ground and never get the opportunity to explore inside buildings, or gain a sniping position on a rooftop.
Visually, Full Spectrum Warrior is not anything spectacular, yet, you certainly will not receive sore eyes playing the game. It's pretty much what you would expect from a game in this genre. To give you a bit of an idea, it is similar to what was shown in the Conflict Desert Storm games, with the texture quality ramped up a little. One particular thing that needs commenting on is the small details that you may not pick up on, but increase the realism of the game without you actually noticing. For example, as one of your squads are taking cover from enemy fire behind an abandoned vehicle in the middle of the street, the car body will slowly decay as the bullets spray all over the metal. Of course, when an explosive such as a grenade or missile hits a car, this process is sped up considerably, resulting in a rather large bang leaving an unrecognisable piece of scrap metal. The soldiers themselves look great, each having their own unique looks and are easily distinguishable from one another. Their animation is excellent, they move fluently which creates the illusion that you are just watching 8 life-like animated soldiers taking things into their own hands. The game contains several videos to prepare you for the mission you are about to be thrown into. Unlike many games where the inclusion of a skip cut-scene button is a godsend, these videos are actually quite entertaining to watch and may offer the occasional laugh.
In the sound department, once again, it is what you'd expect. Gunfire sounds realistic, explosions make you duck for cover and the music suits the style of the game perfectly. One feature, which is increasingly becoming more popular in games, is Dolby Digital encoded audio, and yes, Full Spectrum Warrior will put your 5.1 surround sound system to good use. Not only does it boost the realism of the game, listening to the directions of the sound is a great way to mentally keep track of where you are in a gun fight. The yelling from your allies is a good example of this, as knowing exactly where they are and what they are doing without actually switching squads is perhaps a crucial technique required to stay alive. On the topic of voices, if you are offended by obscene language, quickly locate the mute button on your sound system before booting this game, as it is not for those strong religious types. The voice acting is great. Your allies explain exactly what they are doing (in army terms of course) and not only sound cool, they help keep you on top of what they are doing.
The single-player campaign of Full Spectrum Warrior can be completed in approximately 10 hours if you really rush things along. On the other hand, if you sit back and just enjoy the game, and think about your tactics it could last up to 15 hours. Choosing the harder difficulty mode will up the challenge considerably, and may offer you a little more entertainment if you donâ€™t mind running through the entire solo campaign again. There is plenty of fun to be had with the co-op mode on Live, but lack of game modes lets it down in the end. Although there is still room for improvement, overall, Full Spectrum Warrior is an incredibly solid game.