When the original Full Spectrum Warrior was released in 2004, it was billed as a realistic military simulator developed for the US Army to teach squad tactics. As a commercial game, it had its own charm with its unique control systems and nice presentation, but ultimately the gameplay felt a little shallow and the control scheme overly restrictive. The sequel, Full Spectrum Warrior: Ten Hammers, offers some minor tweaks to the design as well as a new adversarial multiplayer mode. In spite of these changes, Ten Hammers, for better or for worse, feels like very familiar territory.
The country of Zekistan once again needs your help to quell civil unrest.
Ten Hammers once again puts you in control of infantry fireteams trying to restore order in the fictional country of Zekistan. From the environments in the game, which range from dusty towns to docks in a swampy area, it's pretty safe to assume that Zekistan represents a stereotypical, war-torn state in Central Asia or the Middle East. These environments offer good detail, with numerous buildings, wrecked cars, and other bits of debris strewn about also serve as useful cover. Certain portions of the environment (like oxcarts, cars, and boxes) are destructible, which also factors into the gameplay. The character models also animate smoothly when they run, move into and out of cover, and open fire. Overall though, the texturing is noticeably muddy and the character detail somewhat compromised in the PS2 version of the game compared to the other versions, and there are also occasional bouts of frame rate choppiness to deal with. Ten Hammers' 12-mission campaign is split up into four chapters, each of which has a lengthy cutscene to tell the game's story as you switch back and forth between a British and American unit. Unfortunately, the writing and voice acting in these chapters is pretty cheesy.
You'll control more than just infantry in Ten Hammers--many missions will let you take control of an armored vehicle or specialized infantry, like an indigenous scout, as a third unit. In the case of the armored vehicle, you'll have many of the same movement and precision fire options as you do with a regular fireteam. These Bradley vehicles are great for eliminating infantry with small arms, but they're very vulnerable to RPG fire. The indigenous scout can be useful as an extra set of eyes, as he can spot enemies from far off without arousing suspicion.
As in the original game, you don't directly move any characters in Ten Hammers. Instead, you issue orders to (usually) a pair of four-man fireteams using a context-sensitive cursor. You point and click the cursor at a spot on the ground. A delay ensues, which simulates the time delay for the sergeant to order his fireteam, at which point they'll run to the spot you designated. The trick is to always move your teams from one piece of cover to another, while the other team covers them. The cursor will snap to any piece of nearby cover, like low walls and corners, which makes it easy and convenient to set your teams up in ideal places. You'll still set up fire sectors by pointing your troops in a general direction. Ten Hammers offers a new interface feature that lets you designate a move point for one team from the perspective of a different fireteam. This feature makes it even easier to execute the bounding overwatch maneuvers that are so key to keeping your men safe from enemy fire while moving. There's another new feature that lets you easily split your four-man teams up into pairs, so you can perform more-complicated maneuvers. However, it's not always to your advantage to split up your teams. Since the volume of fire you can pour on an entrenched enemy determines their level of suppression (and thus, their ability to accurately shoot back at you), splitting your teams into pairs can be disadvantageous at times. The flexibility is nice, though.
The other main difference in control between Ten Hammers and the original game is precision fire mode. In the first Full Spectrum Warrior, there was no way to take control of individual soldiers and fire their guns. The only weapons you could aim manually were smoke and frag grenades, and M203 rounds, which is still the case in Ten Hammers. However, in this game, you can take individual control of one of your fireteam members to aim and shoot at entrenched enemies. Doing so with different members of your fireteam yields different results. The team leader and rifleman can shoot at and eliminate an enemy when he pops his head up from under cover, much like a sniper. The automatic rifleman can lay down a withering hail of suppressive fire with his machine gun to keep an enemy pinned down--this drains his ammo very quickly, however. The grenadier fires his underslung grenade launcher, which is great for eliminating two or more nearby enemies, or for getting at targets inside a window. This isn't much different from calling for a grenade launcher strike in the first game, but this time your grenadier doesn't have to step out from behind cover to shoot. Unfortunately, there are many cases where firing from behind a wall that's too high, or firing from a window, will result in the grenadier blowing himself and the rest of the team up, which can be very annoying. It's worth mentioning though, that precision fire mode isn't the same as aiming the crosshair and shooting the gun yourself. What you're doing is holding the cursor over an enemy, and after second or so, a red dot will pop up that indicates you're ready to fire. Hit the button, and a split second later, your man will shoot. If the enemy isn't completely out of sight, he'll die. It's effective enough, but it feels like a strange compromise between the first game, and just giving you the ability to shoot the gun yourself. It's almost as if the designers still wanted to keep a thin layer of abstraction there to maintain the idea that this is a tactical game, not a shooter.