Have You Played… Full Spectrum Warrior?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

I don’t like games like Full Spectrum Warrior.

I like Full Spectrum Warrior.

Another of the licenses picked up and then ignored by Nordic Games after the sad death of THQ, and created by the missed and EA-murdered Pandemic, Full Spectrum Warrior was a real-time tactical shooter that streamlined the genre to a place where even I could enjoy it.

You had two teams of four soldiers, Alpha and Bravo fireteams, and you ordered them about via a really neat system that let you plop circles down behind obstacles in a very satisfying manner. They then carried out the hard work for you, which meant your focus was on movement and positioning, and gosh if it didn’t work rather nicely.

For reasons beyond human understanding, the original game is still £8 on Steam, while the sequel, Ten Hammers, is only a fiver. They’re both $10 on GOG.


  1. Premium User Badge

    Oakreef says:

    I love the game but the audio on the Steam version has always been glitchy as hell for me. People’s voice lines all coming out as whispers only one in every ten gunshots actually producing any noise. Is the GOG version better?

    • w0bbl3r says:

      I don’t know about the GoG version but I had real problems with audio even when the game first released. I had to set the audio quality slider halfway up. If I went higher I would get hitches and blips in the audio constantly.
      In the steam version I have no voice audio, and half the effects audio is missing, and it doesn’t matter where I set the audio quality.
      Also you can’t get a good resolution for modern monitors.
      All these things are a huge shame because this was one of my favourite strategy games of the time, and I would have loved to be able to play it again now.
      Might have to dig through the loft and see if I still have the old retail box up there and try that instead, see if that’s any better

    • Nucas says:

      it appears to have the same problem but there is a workaround hosted on their message board.

      • Premium User Badge

        Oakreef says:

        Oh nice! I’ll have to see if it works on the Steam version.

  2. utzel says:

    I bought this for a friend, just so we could play it together. Only after I installed and started up the game it hit me when I saw the Gamespy logo.

    We didn’t try it yet, but multiplayer should work now when using “Evolve”, according to this: link to steamcommunity.com

  3. Velko says:

    I seem to recall that this was once available for free for some reason. I got it then; it was fun for a while.

    • w0bbl3r says:

      I believe it had some kind of ad system where it would place ads in loading screens or something in the free version.
      A couple of other games did this as well around the same time, but I forget what they were.

      • Ejia says:

        Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy wasn’t one of them, was it? I seem to recall there being a free ad-supported version of it.

    • bill says:

      Still seems to be available, though I haven’t tested it.

      Link via the most useful pcgamingwiki
      link to pcgamingwiki.com

      (which also mentions a few other fixes)

    • TheSplund says:

      I too got that free version but when I upgraded to Windows 7 it justfailed to work – one of the many reasons for my dual-boot system back then. think i may look for that freebie in my archive again…

  4. Philopoemen says:

    When it came out I was working for the Defence Simulations Office – MOUT/FIBUA/OOTW were catchcries of the day, and Post Sept 11, COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) games were the next big thing in training small unit commanders. Wargame companies were now defence contractors/

    FSW was a big budget approach, and was originally to be the pared down version of Full Spectrum Command, which itself was more a (bad) competitor with VBS1 (ARMA for grown ups) than anything that similar to FSW.

    There was a lot of weird design decisions when it came to FSW, and it sort of became apparent that the “warrior” part started to be more “what plays well”. As a training tool it was lacking, and as a recruitment tool (which was it’s secondary – though perhaps primary – aim) it was unsuccessful.

    Not sure how Ten Hammers came to be, in terms of the Army’s support behind the scenes, as I left the industry shortly beforehand. FSC died an unspectacular death as far as I know, and the training sims were militarised, and civilian versions not as frequent.

    • Flatley says:

      I was Marine infantry from 2006-2010 and your mention of VBS1 brings back a great memory of the time our platoon rotated through that particular module. Having played Operation Flashpoint all the way through high school, I ended up giving the instructors quite a bit more than they bargained for.

      As we patrolled down an alleyway in Fallujah, the insurgents managed to ambush and kill the rest of my hapless fireteam (stuck as they were staring alternately at the sky and the ground; mouse-and-keyboard skills take a while to develop), I quickly located the threat, closed with the target building under a volley of my own suppression fire, and paused quickly to reload outside the door. I attempted to put a grenade through the upper-story window but, of course, missed wildly and ended up fragging my squad leader across the way. Necessary casualties. Undeterred, I made entry and engaged a target foolishly lying prone at the top of the staircase – OFP’s wonky engine made it impossible for him to hit me. I rushed up the stairs and crashed into the room from which we’d taken fire; two more insurgents were quickly downed. We had a good laugh about it while the instruction team glared over, upset at having been out-nerded by an infantry kludge.

      The other highlight came at the end of an otherwise boring patrol as the platoon crossed a bridge en route back to the FOB. My team leader, who had switched weapons with me and now carried the SAW, inexplicably turned and began to summarily mow us down as we moved towards him in a staggered column. He got about half of us before someone finally managed to stop his murderous rampage. Hilarious. Again, the instruction team was not amused, and after vague threats of non-judicial-punishment for the turncoat, our day’s “training” ceased.

  5. Pink Gregory says:

    I remember playing this on traitor box and quite enjoying it. Engaging a tank was terrifying.

    I quite like the approach of a tactical game (that controls like this) being viewed from a semi-over-shoulder view; makes me miss the Conflict series as well.

    I also remember attracting ridicule from a military-wannabe bro type schoolmate because it didn’t have a fire button.

  6. thedosbox says:

    I wanted to like this, but playing it brought on some serious motion sickness that I couldn’t shake off. Completed the training sessions and got half way through the first mission before I gave up.

  7. Scissors says:

    Awesome game, hoping for a remake.

  8. Morlock says:

    Yes. I actually helped localize it for the German market.

    In 2004 I was working as an intern for a (terrible) localization agency in Los Angeles. I was asked to go to THQ to check out the German FSW. There was no German VO, just subtitles, and they wanted me to check if every text was displaying properly etc. First I was paying attention to format only, but slowly I realized that the translation often did not make any sense. The translator had obviously never seen the game and also wasn’t very familiar with army (or other) slang. For example, one of the soldiers in your team had this weird character trait in that he talked like from an African American ghetto despite being white (this was supposed to be funny). So during the first firefight he said something like “It’s just like a home where they try to cap your ass all the time.” The German translation involved people throwing beer coasters at each other.

    Since translation was considered “complete”, what the US tester and I ended up doing was submitting translation edits as if they were bugs. We must have had a few hundreds of them and I spent many days first at THQ headquarters (where I caught a glimpse of STALKER which was released in 2007), then at Pandemic Studios’ awesome offices in Santa Monica. I enjoyed that time a lot.

    The French version had a very funny issue. See, FSW has you intervene in a fictional Arabic country to take down a dictator and secure his chemical weapons (remember that this was 2004). Whenever someone spoke Arabic in the game, the English subtitles simply said “Arabic”. In French, they would say “Arab”, a word which stands for the language, but also for a person who is Arabic. So you would peak around a corner, see a person while the word “Arab” appeared on the screen, and shoot him. Thankfully the French colleague of mine was sensitive enough to see how problematic this was!

    At that time I was considering working in the gaming industry. I ended up in academia instead.

    • Eiv says:

      Excellent comment, would love to read a guest article on your experiences in the industry. Really quite interesting.

  9. DoktorV says:

    I played FSW years ago on PC, I think it was the Steam version, and rather liked it right up until the mission where the lieutenant says you have mortar support available. All right, good! Or at least, you’d think so. There’s a point where you’re pinned down by a machinegun emplacement and you’d think mortars would be the answer, except in the game I had to be within 100m of the target to call a mortar strike. Getting close enough to mark the target required advancing across a market square with hostiles on three sides, which obviously never worked out. I believe I actually said out loud, “I can’t just call in a grid square from out of their range and walk the fire in from there?” or something like that. I tried that mission a few times and then gave up.

  10. bill says:

    I enjoyed this back on the xbox.
    The basic tactics were pretty smooth and satisfying, and it was one of the most cinematic games I’d played at the time – which made a good impression.

    Strangely, I had no real desire to play the sequel though.

  11. Troubletcat says:

    I liked it to an extent but I felt like it was enormously repetitive.

    Every single challenge boiled down to “You are at a chokepoint now. Open your map and notice the precisely one way to flank the enemy position. Do the thing we taught you to do in the tutorial and you have now done countless times to flank the enemy position.”

    Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 also suffered from this, but not quite as badly.

    Still good games in both cases, but my goodness…

  12. Laak says:

    Loved this game, but keep forgetting its title.

    Though I would consider Brothers in Arms as more of a spiritual successor

  13. Unruly says:

    I’ve tried to. Does that count?

    I remember buying it years ago on Steam, at the urging of a friend who wanted me to play it, and every time I tried running it I’d just get a black screen. No error message, no actual crash, just a screen that was chock full of nothing. I’ve tried reinstalling multiple times over the years because my friend used to rave about it, but I always got the same result. Eventually I just gave up on it.

  14. drucifer says:

    Now in the Steam sale for a couple of quid for both.