Full Spectrum Warrior: Ten Hammers Xbox
Published by THQ
Developed by Pandemic Studios
Release Date: Out Now
Full Spectrum Warrior: Ten Hammers, an introduction.
One of the problems with reviewing games software on a regular basis is that you just don't have the time to play games that you don't receive for review. Believe me it's frustrating. Time and time again I've purchased games, played them for about an hour and then cast it aside in order to get on with titles I have to review. For this very reason I never purchased Full Spectrum Warrior, even though from what I had known about the game it interested me greatly. Of course the game was a big success, which is impressive for a game that was initially intended as a U.S. Army training tool. The game's popularity always meant that a sequel was likely and that's exactly what we have here, Full Spectrum Warrior: Ten Hammers.
What's the game about?
Full Spectrum Warrior: Ten Hammers is a modern day urban warfare game where you give orders to small groups of highly trained soldiers. It has little in common with series such as Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six as it's more of a RTS game than a FPS game. You'll give orders to two teams of four soldiers and you can split a team of four into teams of two whenever you want to. Just as in real life the emphasis is on keeping your men as safe as possible at all times. It's absolutely crucial that cover is used whenever possible and also that you suppress and flank your enemies whenever there is a possibility to do so. The single-player missions see you taking on terrorists in the fictional Tien Hamir province of Northern Zekistan against fictional terrorist groups. It may all be fictional but there are similarities with events that are occurring in real life. Online play is available for up to eight players with co-op and adversarial modes available to play.
What's good about the game?
Having not played the original Full Spectrum Warrior I was keen to see why the series was so popular. In fact after only playing the game for around 30 minutes it became obvious why so many gamers have taken a shine to the series. The game is just so immersive. It really does feel like your every decision is vital as any mistakes can be harshly punished. Ten Hammers adds the ability to control mechanised units such as Bradley Tanks and Armoured Humvees, you can now enter interior environments and position snipers, an adversarial mode has been added as a multiplayer option and air strikes can now be called for too. A new Precision Fire feature has been added to allow you to temporarily take charge of a single soldier and select their specific target, which gives you a greater degree of control. The game's twelve single-player missions should last around twelve to fifteen hours and because the game has multiple difficulty levels and an AI that isn't scripted you'll get plenty of replay value out of the game, even if you don't decide to give the multiplayer side of the game a try.
What's not so good about the game?
There's no getting around the fact that as good as FSW: Ten Hammers is, it's not going to be to everyone's taste. In fact it's going to appeal to those looking for a tactical RTS far more than those looking for a modern combat FPS. Even those looking for a militaristic RTS will be disappointed by the occasionally punishing AI. There are times when it also feels as though you have no chance as the AI makes mincemeat out of your troops before you realise what's going on. The game has three difficulty levels but even on the easiest it can be immensely challenging at times. Occasionally you get the opposite behaviour from the AI as your enemies put themselves in positions where they are easy to pick off. In fairness though we haven't see this kind of behaviour too often. Whilst the game is undoubtedly of a high standard it can't really boast an enjoyable story. You'll play the game for the challenge and because (along with the original FSW) there's nothing quite like it on the Xbox but not for its storyline, which is unfortunate.
How does it look?
Although the Xbox has now been superseded by the Xbox 360 there's still plenty of life in the original Xbox and this is clearly shown by Ten Hammers. The various environments look good, if not highly detailed, and the character models all look good and animate smoothly. The frame rate is impressive and hasn't appeared to dip even in the most hectic of action scenes.
How deaf gamer friendly is the game?
Pleasingly Pandemic Studios have done a very good job in making the game accessible for deaf gamers. The game allows you to enable subtitles and for once, a very high percentage of the dialogue in the game (and indeed all of the important dialogue) is subtitled. If you're new to the series you'll begin with the Battle Drills section that contains tutorials on more or less everything you need to know. Thankfully these tutorials are subtitled so you'll be able to fully benefit from them. During the main game all tutorial messages appear in text at the top of the screen. All communications (and as we said earlier all essential dialogue) are shown in text so you'll have no problems at all. The game makes extensive use of icons and other visual indicators which also helps deaf gamers. Some of the comments for the citizens that you'll encounter aren't subtitled though this is hardly a problem. On the screen where you select your chosen mission there is some speech but this is of no importance and therefore doesn't cause any problems. In short then deaf gamers will be able to enjoy Ten Hammers. It's worth noting that the game does contain strong language but that this can be disabled. In place of the profanity you'll have '#' symbols so the average four letter word will look like '####' in the subtitles to denote that such a word has been beeped in the verbal dialogue, which is a nice touch.
As long as you can accept the game is going to require some effort to get to grips with (unless you've played the original Full Spectrum Warrior of course) and that it's not simply a shooter but rather a quite detailed strategy title, you'll be happy with what's on offer in Ten Hammers. At times the difficulty level can be a bit too much and it's a shame the game didn't have a better story but these are disappointments that can easily be overcome. Those who enjoyed the original Full Spectrum Warrior and those who are looking for a more tactical urban warfare game would certainly do well to check out Full Spectrum Warrior: Ten Hammers.
Overall Game Rating: 8.0/10
Deaf Gamers Classification:
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Those looking for an enjoyable follow up to Full Spectrum Warrior will no doubt enjoy what Ten Hammers has to offer. It's definitely more of a strategy game (and a good one at that) than an FPS and it's more challenging than any other war game I've played on the Xbox.