23. Full Spectrum Warrior
Pandemic Studios | THQ | 2004
A realistic Army simulation, adapted from a program actually used by the US military for training purposes. Uniquely, control is command-based, rather than concentrating on one soldier
What made it so great?
The game thrives on realism and the gritty, life-or-death gameplay is highly compelling. You are given two teams of four men to play with, allowing you to strategically plan your approach to each mission. The characters all have names and personalities, so you start to care about them as they talk to you. If one falls in battle, they can be carried back to a medic at a set place on the map, adding even more urgency to the proceedings.
You'd expect this game to work poorly on an Xbox, but smart design decisions make commanding your squad a snap. The computer plays it smart; it'll obey your commands without being suicidal. A quick bash of the "take cover" button may well save your team. FSW's control method has since been incorporated into many standard first-person shooters where team AI is used, which proves what a leap it was. Rainbow Six Vegas probably wouldn't have been quite the same if it wasn't for this game. While FSW can eventually lose its appeal, while it's got you hooked, you won't want to play anything else.
Get ready to play
You'll need to do the training mission at the start or you'll be totally lost in your first battle. Be prepared to move carefully, use covering fire and co-ordinate attacks with two teams at once. And remember, never leave a man behind, soldier.
Been there, done that?
Conflict: Desert Storm is similarly gritty and also gives you control of a four-man team. You'll get more individual control too, so this might prove more up your street if you want to get your hands dirty with the blood of your foes. It's not quite as polished, however, and isn't aging quite as well.