Combat Elite: WWII Paratroopers First Look

We get a peek at Acclaim and BattleBorne's upcoming third-person action game set during WWII.

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Combat Elite: WWII Paratroopers is the recently announced action game from Acclaim for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. The game is the first project out of BattleBorne, a newly formed studio based in Nevada. While the studio may be new, its members are hardly new to the industry. The developer's roster includes industry vets from Interplay and Ubisoft. While the game is still quite a ways off--it's slated to ship this June--we got to check out a work-in-progress version of the PlayStation 2 game, and it was already looking good.

Combat Elite: WWII Paratroopers' name sets up its premise quite accurately. You'll be cast in the role of a paratrooper during World War II. The game begins on D-day, during the Allied invasion of France, when paratroopers were dropped behind enemy lines during and after the assault on the beaches of Normandy. The troopers' mission is simple: Support the Allied forces who are pushing toward Germany to prevent the Germans from completing the atomic bomb. The game will break down into more than 40 missions set throughout Europe. While you can choose which trooper to control--each has its own specialties--you'll find yourself being supported by up to three other AI characters that will be assigned to you depending on the nature of your mission.

The gameplay is simple but accessible, thanks to BattleBorne's use of the Snowblind engine, which was first seen powering the original Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance and has since powered other, more-recent titles. Combat Elite makes use of the most recent iteration of the engine, which also powers the upcoming Champions of Norrath. As a result, the core game mechanics are very similar to that type of action adventure game, only with a historical twist. You'll play the game from a third-person perspective with a three-quarters view. You'll be able to adjust the camera slightly, but for the most part, your view is set. Your character will only be able to carry up to three weapons and one additional item, such as grenades, which means you'll have to give some thought to how you arm yourself. The arsenal in the game is taken directly from the history books and provides you with the best weapons available during that time period. While the various paratroopers will have their own specialties, you'll find that you can buff them up to a degree as you progress through the game. You'll earn points as you clear levels, which you can use to increase their attributes and also to increase your character's rank. You'll eventually be able to leave the ranks of the enlisted and become an officer if you choose to. The trade-off is that once you become an officer you won't be able to increase your character stats with the points you earn, but the upside is that you'll be able to use the points you earn to beef up the other three members of your team. In addition to the single-player mode, there's a multiplayer mode that lets you play cooperatively with a friend.

The graphics in the game are already looking sharp, thanks to the powerful Snowblind engine, which pumps out a varied selection of environments. The real-world locations benefit greatly from the high level of detail it is capable of. We got a peek at a few, very different environments, ranging from spacious outdoor areas set in the countryside, to the much more cramped quarters of a house interior. Despite its early state, the game was already moving fairly smoothly.

While the version of Combat Elite: WWII Paratroopers was early, the game appears to be headed in a promising direction. The graphics are looking good, and the gameplay is accessible. Combat Elite: WWII Paratroopers is currently slated to ship this June for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. Look for more on it in the coming months.

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