PS2 REVIEW: FULL SPECTRUM WARRIOR

Had enough of the Terry Schiavo case? The reenactment of the Michael Jackson trial is not doing it for you? Let's face it, you were lost when the War in Iraq was over. Now there's nothing good to watch on TV. Well, just grab a copy of Full Spectrum Warrior and fire up the PS2 to relive those glory days once again from the comfort of your own TV set.

Iraqi Insurgents and Taliban loyalists have fled to the neighboring country of Zekistan where they are led by the evil mastermind, Mohammad Jabbour Al Afad. As a US Army Infantry squad leader you will lead two fire teams, Alpha and Bravo into deadly urban combat to teach these terrorists not to mess with Uncle Sam. This game was originally designed as a training exercise for US soldiers, to give them some virtual experience in what they might be up against during their actual tour of duty.

As a training exercise the game is great; as a game it's just good. Before you get sent into the field you should take the training exercise. It's about an hour long and it's pretty dry but it will give you the lowdown on all of the strategies that you might need to consider in addition to the variety of commands and what you can expect from them. If I had skipped this tutorial I would have been lost. I didn't remember half of it but at least it got me started.

Full Spectrum Warrior blends RTS and real-time shooting for an interesting game of hide and seek. You move around alleys, streets and parking lots in an effort to flush out the enemy that could be hiding anywhere. There's a lot of tension but unfortunately some of that tension is due to the having your men follow the waypoints - or not follow them as the case may be.

Waypoints are paths that you want your teammates to follow while you're busy doing other things. You set waypoints with a list of commands and hope they follow things to the letter. The movement marker makes it difficult to get around things and often your team will get hung up on the simplest of obstructions such as a small fence or garbage bin. This is likely to do with the fact that taking cover is a very important survival technique that is constantly stressed. It may be that the CPU mistakenly interprets these items as safe locations and clings to them. Unfortunately they are not safe havens as your men end up being exposed and vulnerable in some of the most inappropriate places.

You can switch between the two teams to flank the enemy once you know where they are. You'll also have to do a little babysitting to make sure your boys aren't stuck somewhere. Other than that they do a good job of protecting one another. You can also switch among the team members to find the right guy for the job. The story is thin as you are only really interesting in completing the objectives of each mission - and trying to stay alive in the process. We are given names and backgrounds of each of the infantry members but we never get a chance to bond with them so subsequently they all fade back to faceless and nameless characters as they become overshadowed by the gameplay.

Full Spectrum Warrior will keep your mind busy as you continually access your situation, process the information and take action based on your decisions and the available commands. The interface is relatively easy to use once you know what the commands are capable of.

For added replay value you can play through the mission in co-op mode. I strongly advise that your friend knows as much as you in regards to the game otherwise it will be more work than just playing it yourself. It would have been great if the two-player mode had some new maps or different missions.

If you've seen this game displayed on the Xbox or the PC you're in for a letdown. The graphics and character models are blocky and muddy. The fog of war is thick and adds to the already claustrophobic ambience. The sounds are great though and if you've got Dolby Pro Logic II you'll be able to pinpoint where the enemy is firing from.

If you have the option I would strongly suggest getting either the Xbox or the PC version. This game was designed for a more powerful system and while the PS2 certainly tries its best, Full Spectrum Warrior isn't all that it can be.

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System: PS2
Dev: Mass Media / Pandemic
Pub: THQ
Released: March 2005
Players: 1 - 2
Review by Dean
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
3.5
GRAPHICS
3.0
CONTROL
3.5
MUSIC/FX
4.0
VALUE
2.0