While the tactical shooting series has had its ups and downs over the years, the original Delta Force, released way back in 1998, was arguably one of the best tactical first-person shooters of its era. Jumping on the recent trend of taking classic games and remaking them with modern technology, NovaLogic has recently released Delta Force Xtreme, a budget-priced director's cut of sorts of the very first Delta Force. While we'd normally tell you to run screaming from any game with the word "Xtreme" in its title, Delta Force Xtreme holds up surprisingly well for a game released when Clinton was still in the White House. In fact, when you toss in its 32-player multiplayer modes and modern graphics, Delta Force feels perfectly suitable for a budget title.
So, to answer your first question right off the bat...yeah, Delta Force Xtreme feels a little barren for a modern shooter. In 1998, "tactical shooter" meant you got to have computer-controlled teammates, and occasionally they shot at the bad guys. Nowadays, there are all sorts of crazy cover-fire mechanics and unit commands and what have you to take into account, so anyone expecting a tactical shooter by today's standards isn't going to find it here. Essentially, the premise of the game is that you're a nameless soldier in the Delta Force. There's really not any plot to speak of, save for little bits of mission briefings that occur before and after each individual mission. There are three campaigns and about 20 missions total in the single-player, which is actually less than what was in the original game, which featured five campaigns and roughly 40 missions (though a few missions have been added to the included campaigns to pad out the length a bit). While that might initially seem disappointing, the focus of the game really isn't the single-player gameplay, and after spending some time with it, it will become abundantly clear why.
We're not saying the single-player is terrible by any means, but there really isn't much to it. You pretty much run from waypoint to waypoint on the map, shoot all the guys in the vicinity, and occasionally stop to blow up a helicopter, some weapons caches, and other bric-a-brac. However, even though you're just running around blasting away at large groupings of enemies, it's still fairly enjoyable. The enemy artificial intelligence, while not exceptional, is reasonably challenging. And because you're fighting against sizable groups, many of which are hidden within small buildings and other covered areas, you'll have to be mindful of where enemy fire is coming from, so you can't just run into an area with guns blazing. The AI for your teammates isn't nearly as good, but it doesn't really need to be. You only have two, and in some cases, four teammates, and they're scattered throughout the map, so you'll have to meet up with them at specific waypoints. Unlike in the original game, they won't get stuck in certain sections of the map. However, they still only occasionally take down enemies and you still have to hit specific trigger points on the map to actually get them to move with you. The game also contains a limited array of weapons and drivable vehicles, though the weapons are fun to shoot and the vehicles are fun to drive/pilot despite the lack of variety.
The whole of Delta Force Xtreme's single-player experience won't last for more than a few hours, but where you'll really end up having your fun is with the multiplayer, anyway. When you're playing competitively, Delta Force Xtreme can be quite a chaotic, but fun experience. Up to 32 players can play online, and whether you're playing team deathmatch, capture the flag, or king of the kill, the action is always frantic and full of people getting shot in the face. It's especially enjoyable in the maps where an abundance of vehicles can be found, as it is quite fun to climb aboard a helicopter, or into the mounted gun position of a jeep, and roll around blasting guys. There are also a number of cooperative missions in the game, where you and some player-controlled teammates essentially do the exact same thing as in the single-player, which is running from waypoint to waypoint, clearing out terrorists. Though not quite as engaging as the competitive aspects of the game, the co-op certainly has its moments.
With all of that said, the one question probably still nagging at you is, "Exactly how much better does the game look?" Even in 1998, Delta Force wasn't exactly a looker. By today's standards, Xtreme is on roughly the same level--it looks good, but not exceptional in any way. The soldier models all look pretty generic, but move reasonably well, and if nothing else, they die convincingly. The environments are typically quite large and spacious, though sparsely decorated. The areas occupied by enemies tend to have some buildings, exploding barrels, and so on. But anywhere else, you're usually just wandering around open desert or jungle for long stretches without seeing much of anything beyond some decent ground and vegetation textures. The audio is similarly repetitive, but with a few more problems. While the basic sound effects are generally OK, some of them tend to repeat rather blatantly, to the point where you can tell they're on a very specific looping track. Like when you're driving a motorcycle, for example, the sound of the engine revving up as you change gears just goes on over and over again, even if you've reached top gear. There's really no voice work or music to speak of, save for a few minor instances, and none of it is really impressive.
Actually, nothing about Delta Force Xtreme really sticks out in any meaningful capacity. The PC is packed from front to back with quality shooters, so while Delta Force Xtreme is perfectly capable, with so much competition available, it's tough to really get excited about anything it does. But, with that said, for a $20 game, you could do a hell of a lot worse. So if you're a shooter fan on a budget, Delta Force Xtreme isn't a bad way to go.