Full Spectrum Warrior Ten Hammers Review
|Genre:||Tactical/3rd Person Shooter|
|Release Date:||June 23, 2006 (UK)|
|Reviewer:||Fred Drewitt (Fred)|
|Buy now at Amazon.co.uk|
War, what is it good for? I might suggest a whole host of PC games. Over the years there have been many games based on war, from the near perfect Operation Flashpoint, to the brain numbingly rubbish Pearl Harbour: defend the fleet, to the great ocean of mediocrity that seem to inhabit the FPS genre.
And so we come to Full Spectrum Warrior: Ten Hammers, the second in the series following up from the successful Full Spectrum Warrior of course. The first game was a modified US Army simulator for FIBUA, namely fighting in built up areas. As a result it was rather realistic, with death an everyday occurrence and life expectancy about equal to that of a Russian in a bond movie.
Ten Hammers is once again set in Zekistan, a fictional place with an odd resemblance to another Middle Eastern country currently experiencing military operations. The main plot revolves around a young Officer leading his troop into the northern province of Khardiman, where US forces have come under attack. And so it falls on you to ride in like the cavalry and save the day. As expected with a new game, the environments look realistic, with all manner of burnt out cars, cinder blocks and ox carts strewn around in an odd, tactically advantageous way. The characters in the game are generally animated well, with few clipping errors, and a very respectable frame rate.
The extra effort made with the plot also spills over into your squad, Pandemic are clearly hoping you will make a bond with the soldiers you are controlling, and efforts have been made to make them seem more human. In combat this works quite well, with the soldiers swearing with language that would make a sailor blush, making it clear when they are under ****in fire or when they score a good kill. Occasionally there are some humorous snippets, such as a squad member complaining that the soldier on his back has had a few too many burgers. While it is a fair effort, the game is mostly concerned with death, and is therefore isn't funny as such.
The game retains the hybrid RTS / Action control system of the original, which if you have ever played the Ground Control series, will be quite familiar. The system usually works by controlling two squads, Alpha and Bravo, with additions such as Bradley fighting vehicles occasionally appearing for good measure, of which you can now also control unlike its predecessor. Although you can also split your squads of 4 into 2, two man teams, this is usually not required and is overcomplicated to make effective use of. Pandemic have also spiced things up by allowing some inter building combat, by issuing the breach command your forces will move inside and you can clear a building in a similar manner, giving a tactical advantage out of windows.
Shooting is taken care of by fire zones allocated to each squad, whereby they will engage all targets inside it, either as a pair or all guns blazing. However, they will not target outside their zone of fire often, sometimes allowing the enemy to run past and shoot you in the back if quick action is not taken, hindered by the interface that does not easily allow for decisive actions.
Most missions are a standard affair, with either "search and rescue" or "destroy" as the main orders of the day, with the occasional bit of defence thrown in to mix things up. The game will also change your objectives mid mission from time to time, which can throw a spanner in the works. Although Ten Hammers has aspirations of being a commandos type game requiring tactical logic and lateral thinking to overcome the enemy, with the tutorial suggesting you will find cover, suppress the enemy and carefully flank them with your other units. In reality, you call in an air strike while quickly running away to avoid the inevitable friendly fire, at which point the remaining insurgents will try to shoot you in the back. This repetitive formula might possibly have been broken up by a more reactive AI, unfortunately the enemy starting positions are scripted so the only variation in tactics is your choice of fiery destruction you wish to impose upon the enemy - be it automatic gunfire, grenade or the newly added "first person" sniper shot.
This new feature deserves a mention, as you have a fairly limited time to make a kill, making it a neat feature that is unlikely to be overused in either the single or multi player modes. When activated by your Team Leader, a scope is brought up on screen, just like any FPS and you have to target an enemy not under cover. This does give you an efficient way to take out a single insurgent by using your leaders superior skill instead of having to throw fire at them for hours until they die of boredom.
Ten Hammers is not helped by the interface, which is about as smooth as the average broken shopping trolley. It uses a system of pointers, and although it does the job you can tell it was designed for the console that spawned it and not the flowing controls we are used to on PC. The interface also does not easily allow for split second decisions, and often you are forced to watch as your carefully laid plan goes awry by that insurgent you missed, and could not tell your team to shoot quick enough, resulting in the slow motion death of your beloved team mate. Fortunately, the game is just addictive enough for you to want to keep trying the levels until you get through, and the checkpoint save system actually works very well for this purpose, being placed very fairly across a map.
Of final mention is the sound, an often overlooked feature of games. With surround, the game is very immersive with bullets cracking around and distant gunfire evident, the effects really help to pull you in. And I am pleased to say the musical score of Ten Hammers is spot on, from the gloomy beats as you cautiously advance to the fast paced action and the dramatic music to accompany it. And yes, those unable to tell if they are being shot at can still use the music to judge that.
Overall, the game has a definite feel of "been there, done that" if you have played the original, although they have attempted to introduce new features by the addition of building interiors, first person shots and fire teams. If you have some patience, and don't mind a challenge here and there, Ten Hammers is an engrossing encounter and will give a small taste of what war is really like. But if you were put off by the original, don't expect any surprises here.
- Immersive and tense game play
- Feels great when you get a winning tactic
Not so good stuff
- Repetitive trial and error
- Limited replay value
- Interface can be confusing