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Tycho / on Mon, Jun 7 2004 at 4:30 am

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Powerful New Techniques

The charge that the gameplay in Full Spectrum Warrior doesn’t change much is fair in my opinion, but why that’s not relevant to me is something we can discuss in a second.  The notion that Army brass would wait to reveal the infantry’s ultimate techniques amused us though, and we went with it.

I really do think there must be something weird about how I play videogames.

I can recall reading the lamentations on some board somewhere about the hidden “treasure” in Return To Castle Wolfenstein, his concern being that there was no real impetus to obtain these baubles.  I couldn’t help thinking to myself, it’s treasure.  That’s why you obtain it.  Treasure is inherently desirable.  It is only when you have abstracted the entire experience that you conclude that a pile of gold bars does not merit further investigation.

The argument against Full Spectrum Warrior goes something like this:  once you have completed the nearly hour long tutorial, you have seen all the game has to offer gameplay wise.  You can’t really argue with that, it’s true.  The tutorial is designed to cover all of the commands you can issue to your squad, and let you see them played out in a simulation course.  In genre terms, it would be called Real-Time Strategy, though they’ve locked the camera right down with the individual units.  Think about it like Tetris, or some other puzzle game, because the comparison is instructive.  You are aware from the outset regarding the shape and function of all the pieces in your repertoire.  You know where they go and can plan accordingly. 

The game itself, then, tasks you with utilizing those techniques in new terrain and under heavy fire.  We’ve played almost exclusively in co-op, you can go through the main campaign that way, so like in any cooperative game communicating strategies and providing point and suppression fire are as much a part of the game as anything else.  Yes, you do move from cover to cover.  Yes, you provide fire support to Alpha or Bravo team, respectively.  There is no point at which hideous mutant monkeys emerge, which is by now so deeply entrenched that when we do not see these monkeys we think that something must be wrong. 

So, when Gabriel and I are merely moving through a hostile foreign country and merely suppressing enemy positions as we hop from cement wall to parked car to stone fountain and merely calling in an AH-64 Apache gunship to wreck a piece of enemy armor, I should be disappointed with that?  That’s something I can’t explain to you.  I don’t go out of my way to see through the simulation, to reduce every game element to an array of distinct significants which can then be individually quantified.  I like big words, but while I don’t mind playing the intellectual about games I try to avoid intellectualizing play itself.  I’m not trying to “beat” the game by removing the component parts of the experience, looking at them out of context, and then congratulating myself for being so fucking smart.

If you do give it a shot, through some combination of rentals and purchases obtain two copies, complete your training, and just start it out in co-op mode.  If you had the means to do so, I don’t know why you’d play it any other way. 

(CW)TB out.

helped her make a great meal

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