Full Spectrum Warrior: Ten Hammers, the new iteration of the thinking man's shooter (read: the one where you don't really do any of the shooting yourself), outranks its predecessor in every way: better variety, better interface, better story, and better multiplayer. But it's all for naught because someone got the bright idea that Ten Hammers shouldn't be fun but instead be as hard as boot camp in Full Metal Jacket.
For those who haven't played the original, FSW is, at its heart, a training tool originally created for the U.S. Army. It was later converted into a (terrific) retail game that incorporated the Army's core training mechanics: moving from corner to corner in outdoor urban environments, using tactics and proper movements with a pair of four-man squads in order to outflank and ultimately defeat your opponent. It's not about having the fastest trigger finger. In fact, it's not about shooting at all - it's about strategy.
The sequel, again set in a fictional version of the Middle East, improves on the original's cerebral take on military games, most notably by incorporating key command upgrades, like being able to order either team with the other (instead of having to constantly switch back and forth) and split your four-man groups into two-man "buddy teams." It also weaves a more interesting narrative, chronicling the lives of your eight primary soldiers through the accounts of a TV reporter doing a story on the squads. Profanity is put to excellent use, spicing up your virtual octet with a more rough-hewn, very human element. After all, most real guys use four-letter words liberally, too.
For all of these reasons, Ten Hammers should be a can't-miss game. Unfortunately, an unholy level of difficulty squelches the fun, and bullets will frequently find your grunts unless they're behind the most fortress-like of cover. Death comes frequently and from every angle - often from an unseen foe - forcing you to revert back to a previous checkpoint (of which there aren't many) and try again.
Perhaps the thought was to try and realistically recreate the intense moral danger our serving soldiers live with every day, but it comes at the cost of fun, and ultimately, aren't you are paying $50 for this videogame to entertain you?