This sequel to one of the more involving war games of recent times didn’t get a dedicated news article on these hallowed pages when it was announced: instead we bundled it in with details of EA’s SSX on Tour. If we had to go back in time and give it its very own article, we’d use the crafty headline ‘Warhammer’. Ok, it’s not that amusing, but it’s still a darned sight better than ‘Everyone loves a sequel’.
Just to recap, the original Full Spectrum Warrior was based on a US army training tool, and mixed third person commanding with an RTS-style interface. It took a while to get used to – the tutorial alone lasted over an hour – but it had more than a few tricks up its camouflaged sleeve.
This time around buildings can be entered, vehicles – including tanks and humvees – clambered into, and there’s the ability to position snipers. Even those considering themselves masters of the original will have to pay attention during the new tutorial – which involves taking a TV camera man around on a patrol – such is the game’s complexity. Alarmingly, every button on the joypad has around two functions – even the rarely-used L3 and R3 buttons.
The presentation has taken a turn for the worse, with PSone-quality CGI cut-scenes and dull menus, but at least the constant chatter during combat isn’t mindless, with a few movie quotes slipped in amidst all the swearing and chaos.
It’s as tactical as console war games go, incorporating wall hugging, stealth attacks, flanking and peering around plenty of corners. For the most part you’re in charge of a squad of four – which can be broken down into two – with each solider having their own skill set. On some missions you’ll meet up with other squads and have even more men to keep an eye on, although with more firepower at your disposal. If an ally gets shot then they’ll squirm on the floor crying out for a medic, but if too many hit the dirt then it’s game over.
It’s certainly a proficient effort, but there’s often too much going on at once. For instance, you can use a first person view, but to do so your solider has to stand up and is thus open to incoming fire. What’s more, while you’re lining up his shot from the first person, your other men have to try their best without your guidance. And their best sadly isn’t always good enough. The poor mites.
Can you keep an eye on eight blokes in a war zone?