PS2 REVIEW: FULL SPECTRUM WARRIOR: TEN HAMMERS

This sequel teases us by allowing the player to fire the various team members' weapons but it's not satisfying enough for action junkies. by Cole Smith

April 7, 2006 - As Ten Hammers would suggest, the Full Spectrum Warrior series has still not found its niche. The genre is real-time strategy but the gameplay suggests shooter. The strategy aspects are very similar to the original but made all the more complex for the sake of a few new features. That can be disconcerting for those that expect this sequel to take the series to the next level.

The original game gave players a good introduction to the genre of squad-based tactics. The game was used by the US military as a sim training tool for infantry soldiers to become familiar with such tactics. While it may have been a good tool for the army, most gamers found that the experience lacked depth, not to mention that it was hampered by the controls. Some improvements can be found in Ten Hammers but it's still far from perfect. The missions can be very demanding, often only allowing you one or two ways to complete them. There is a lot of trail and error. It's very easy to get killed and a lot of time it's not your fault. There are delays in commands such as retreats that will see you stand around and get killed. Other times the enemy will charge you and your team will miss them even though they are at shooting at point blank range.

Zekistan is an imaginary country but it's a composite of Afghanistan and the troublesome Middle Eastern countries. The environments comprise desert, rocky foothills, swampland and urban areas. By commanding two units your basic goal is to kill all of the insurgents through a limited number of tactics. One of the most popular tactics is to have one team flank the enemy while the other engages them in fire. Through the use of the precision fire mode you will be able to take control of your teams' weapons. Using the automatic rifleman you can spray machinegun fire to try to keep the bastards at bay or you can attempt to pick off the enemy one by one much like a sniper by using the team leader's rifle. The grenadier can launch grenades into open windows and take out more than one enemy at a time.

Other than the ability to shoot your team members' weapons, you don't actually control the characters' movements. This is accomplished by issuing orders or by pointing and clicking to a place on the map. It's in your best interest to move your unit to a place where they will be safe. There are several walls, buildings and burnt out vehicles to use for cover. Moving your men is a dangerous proposition, especially when you are in more open territory. You have to make sure that you are in a position of suppressing the enemy before you move or they are not in the immediate area. Even then you have to be wary of snipers in the windows and at the top of buildings.

The ability to take charge of up to four teams, Alpha, Bravo, Charlie and Delta will allow you to have one team cover the other during such moves. You also have the ability to split your four-man team in half. This gives you more flexibility but it's only appropriate in delicate situations that don't require a lot of firepower. Keep in mind that there is always strength in numbers.

Another team that you can employ is the indigenous scouts. This is a unit made up of inhabitants of the region that basically perform spy/recon missions for you. They are able to move about the territory with virtual impunity and give you reports on the enemy's whereabouts without giving away your position. Another good addition is the Bradley tank which lets you blast some heavy 25mm rounds into the enemy's nest. The tanks add some depth to the gameplay but they are not very resistant to rocket propelled grenade attacks.

In this game you can actually enter buildings and climb stairs to gain a higher vantage point. This is something that was sorely missing in the first game. It can be easier to defend your position and better assess your strategic moves based on the layout of the streets that you can see more easily.

Online includes a four-player Verses mode as well as a two-player co-op mode. The Verses mode included maps from the single-player mode which you'll be familiar with. The factions are somewhat matched but they have different advantages. The Americans have better weapons while the insurgents have numbers on their side. The co-op mode is the shining star in this game. It features eight new levels and is by far my favorite mode. You can bring all of the features that are available in the single-player mode to these online modes.

There's a lot of swearing in this game, and it does lend some authenticity to the content as it replicates the tension, confusion, fear and anger that comes with being in such a dangerous situation. It's too bad the cutscenes are so corny. The acting and the dialog are just awful. It's as though the developers wanted to turn this into a B-movie instead of portraying a slice of real life.

The strategy elements and the point-and-click system bog the action down in this game. I can see how it can be used to teach a soldier to think before he acts, considering that he's putting his life on the line and can't respawn, but those looking for an action-packed game with a focus on fun had better look elsewhere.

Features:

  • Intense Squad Based Combat Suppress and disband insurgent forces with the latest arsenal of weapons and equipment - all based on real-world military weaponry including the ability to control mechanized units, such as Bradley Tanks and Armored Humvees.
  • True Military Gaming Experience - Use real-world combat tactics to command infantry squads, ranging from US Light Infantry and US Ranger Forces to Multi-National UN Coalition Forces - taking on a variety of combat missions through war torn environments.
  • Innovative Genre-blending Game Play Experience Delivering the most genuine infantry combat experience ever, combining squad-based combat and real-time tactical action.
  • Enhanced Strategy - New features include the ability to enter interior environments and position sniper teams, save and protect hostages and control additional fire teams, Charlie and Delta.
  • Command Responsibility The lives of the squad members lie in the players every movement and decision. An in-game replay video system, allows players to evaluate their squad's combat effectiveness and learn from mistakes.
  • Friend or Foe Online Game Play Take the action online for a variety of multiplayer modes. Play through the game in Co-Op mode, go head-to-head with other players or team up for objective based missions.
  • Developed by Pandemic Studios (Star Wars: Battlefront, Mercenaries and Destroy All Humans!)

By Cole Smith
CCC Senior Writer

Rating out of 5
Full Spectrum Warrior: Ten Hammers (PS2)
4.2
Graphics
Improved from the original version. The framerate will go a little wonky at times.
4.0
Control
As long as you take your time you'll find the control system will work for you. There are other times when things are just out of your control.
3.5
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Bad voiceacting during the cutscenes. Lots of swearing. The ambient sounds of war are realistic.
3.5
Play Value
The four-player online mode will give you a good deal of replay value but the two-player co-op is the most fun.
3.8
Overall Rating - Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
System: PS2 (shown), X, X360
Dev: Pandemic
Pub: THQ
Release: Mar 2006
Players: 1 - 4
Review by Cole

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best