Full Spectrum Warrior: Ten Hammers Review

The original Full Spectrum Warrior was groundbreaking because it was a tactical war game simulator, which emphasized the command aspects of squad based warfare rather than first person shooter action. Two years later, game developer Pandemic Studios tries to improve upon the idea with the release of Full Spectrum Warrior: Ten Hammers.

In this game, the main idea is to command your squad to do various actions in order to successfully complete mission objectives. The decisions you make, and the timeliness of your actions, will determine how triumphant you will be in the game.

Ten Hammers takes place in the fictional nation of Zekistan. Although the location of this country isn,t disclosed, various indicators such as background music, enemy chatter, and war-torn cities all point to a setting in the Middle East. The plot is driven by the recent events in Iraq. In the game, the leader of Zekistan has been taken down by Western forces and "long suppressed ethnic hostilities erupt into violence. The US and their Coalition allies must once again enter the conflict in an effort to stabilize the country."

Each mission presents a unique challenge to neutralize enemy forces. Some missions are straight forward, while others demand strategic planning. The beginning missions help you to get grounded in squad commands, cursor movements, and menu operations. The game makes the usage of walls, buildings and ground cover a necessity for staying alive. If any of your squad is left out in the open unprotected, they will be mowed down by enemy fire.

The squad is moved by placing an onscreen cursor at the location you want them to go. Once the location is selected, your squad moves to the area. During the game, blue pointers appear to direct you to action objectives. Moving your team with the cursor may take some getting used to as the controls are not especially accurate. It is easy to overshoot your destination, and will take a little practice in becoming more adept. The cursor is moved by the left joystick. You soon learn that it is better to move your men in small increments rather in large moves because of the camera perspective. In the early rounds of playing Ten Hammers, it was common for the soldiers to end up in enemy fire because of poor placement due to camera perspective.

The issuing of commands is accomplished via an onscreen menu system and button presses. These commands allow you to split up the squad into two units, start suppression fire, take over an individual squad member to fire or lob grenades, call for air strikes, launch explosives, and move your troops. The aspect of being in command as opposed to being directly involved in the action will be difficult for some to get used to. Playing this title sometimes gives a strange, removed feeling to all the action as your squad members react to your commands rather than you personally being in the action. There are instances in which you can take on a character in your squad to fire weapons, but many of your squads actions will be automatic. In other parts of the game, you will be able to command armored vehicles and specialized forces such as scouts to infiltrate and disclose enemy locations.

Graphics for the game are a little bit on the grainy side and the frame rate suffers at times. There is nothing really eye catching in the presentation of the artwork of the game. It is rather disappointing when compared to other titles in this genre. An interesting feature of Ten Hammers is the option to turn off swearing and gore. When these options were activated, the sometimes "colorful" dialogue was replaced by bleeps and asterisks. Any depictions of bloody scenes were also eliminated.

Sound is adequate, with the typical explosions and gunfire effects being realistic. However, there is a problem with the voice acting. The spoken dialogue between unit personnel overlaps screen text directions and voice prompts. For instance, your squad is pinned under enemy gunfire: the game screen presents instructions on how to maneuver or access a command. But during this crucial reading, your squad members start to shout out what else you must do, in addition to a narration voice giving helpful advice. The end result is confusing. You will either miss the text, the shouted instructions, the narration, or all three. This unfortunately means some unnecessary replay of certain levels to understand what your objectives are.

Ten Hammers is challenging, but not in the way you,d expect. The levels offer some interesting play, but the ultimate challenge is navigating through the menu system and HUD displays in an efficient manner. The action frequently involves quick decision making and the menus can bog down gameplay and your ability to remember the various commands and features. It will take a while before the full set of instructions is memorized.

One of the most serious flaws in Ten Hammers has nothing to do with gameplay, but with the excruciatingly long load times between levels and reloads when a mission is failed. Typical load times are just under 23 seconds, which is unbearable by today,s standards. The majority of last-gen PS1 games load faster than Ten Hammers. Even the patient among us will find this aspect of the game stretching our limits. The long load times break up the continuity and flow of the game and it is unfortunate that a problem like was not addressed. The coding definitely needs to be tighter in this game.

Full Spectrum Warrior: Ten Hammers, offers a unique experience for any war game strategy fan. Instead of being a typical first person shooter, the game takes you through the tasks of being the commanding soldier in charge of his squad. The game has some interesting levels and will be enjoyed by gamers who like the aspect of tactical missions as opposed to pure shooters. However, while there are moments of good in the game, there are some issues that detract from Ten Hammers: long load times, weak controller interface, difficult menu navigation, and average graphics add up to a game that is less than what it could have been.

However, fans of the genre will appreciate the added commands and improved AI of the game. Whether these improvements are enough to purchase the second title in the Full Spectrum Warrior series will most likely be decided by a game rental first.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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