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Full Spectrum Warrior

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 2, Xbox
Genre: Action
Publisher: THQ


PC Preview - 'Full Spectrum Warrior'

by Thomas Wilde on Sept. 19, 2004 @ 2:49 a.m. PDT

Genre : Action
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Pandemic Studios
Release Date: September 27, 2004


It takes a little while to get used to playing Full Spectrum Warrior, because it’s not what you might expect it to be.

Most of the serious military games out there are big fans of a realistic approach to action under fire, but Full Spectrum Warrior is more like a chess game than anything else.

You (and a friend) control two fire teams, Alpha and Bravo, and your job is to get on the ground and go on a series of missions throughout the Middle Eastern country of Zekistan. By dispatching groups of state-sponsored terrorists in a series of urban warzones, you’ll do your part to help stop the ethnic cleansing of the Zeki tribe.

Playing Full Spectrum Warrior is about finding cover, digging in, and playing intelligently. Your reflexes aren’t as important as your ability to think calmly and tactically under fire. Using tactics derived from those used in the military’s Urban Combat Training simulators, you’ll need to run reconaissance, pick your opportunities carefully, and coordinate the activities of both your squads. It’s not enough to simply get the job done; it’s just as important to get all your men home alive.

The chess similarity comes into play when you maneuver your units. It’s easy for one team to get pinned down by a tango in the area, so when that happens, you simply call in the other fire team to move in and neutralize the target. One team instigates; the other cleans up. It’s a synergetic process that requires a lot more brainpower than you’d think it would.

Of course, if you’re one of the few hundred thousand people who played and loved the Xbox version of the game, this isn’t actually news to you. If your first experience with the game is the upcoming PC version, though, you’re in for a treat.

Obviously, the graphics are better. They weren’t bad on the Xbox, but the PC version’s much clearer and crisper, losing the fuzzy textures and muddy colors of the Xbox rev in favor of a nearly photorealistic look. I’m not a PC gaming expert like some guys on staff; I can’t tell you specs. All I know is that Full Spectrum Warrior looks much better on PC.

It also controls better. The gameplay largely revolves around cursor positioning, which simply works better with a mouse than with a control stick. What was an intuitive process on console is second nature on a computer, and before long, you’ll be skating through each level with practiced ease.

Of course, multiplayer mode’s made the jump to PC intact, along with two bonus levels. Full Spectrum Warrior’s co-op mode is the real reason to buy the game; singleplayer’s nice and all, but it’s kind of an afterthought in the face of co-op. Controlling both teams yourself can feel a bit repetitive after a while, but having another person in the field with you – with all the capacities for surprises and mistakes that entails – is what the game’s really about.

Full Spectrum Warrior was an impressive game on Xbox, but it feels and looks like it was always intended for PC. It’s kind of like a real-time strategy game dressing up in a third-person shooter’s clothes. Once you get used to that, it’s surprisingly addictive.

The minimum requirements on Full Spectrum Warrior are Windows XP, a 800 MHZ processor (although a1.4 GBZ processor’s recommended), 128 MB of RAM, 1.5 free GB of HD space, a 4X CD-ROM drive, a DirectX 8-compatible graphics card, a DirectX 9 sound card, and a broadband connection for multiplayer.

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