Delta Force: Black Hawk Down E3 2005 Impressions

NovaLogic has two different takes on the Battle of Mogadishu.

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NovaLogic is using the occasion of E3 to push Delta Force: Black Hawk Down for the PS2 and Xbox. However, the company is going the unusual route of making separate versions of the game. The Xbox version is essentially a pared down version of the PC game that was released back in 2003. The PS2 version, however, was written specifically for that platform. And while both versions share story material and have similar missions, they aren't mirrors of each other.

Black Hawk Down is based on the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993, when 100 elite American commandos were trapped overnight in a hostile neighborhood, surrounded by thousands of heavily armed militia. By daybreak, 18 Americans and hundreds of Somali were dead. The battle later became the subject of the best-selling book by Mark Bowden, which led to the 2001 Ridley Scott movie.

The PS2 version of the game was developed by Rebellion, and we got to see an early mission that takes place shortly after the first Black Hawk helicopter was shot down over the city, causing the Americans soldiers to spread themselves thin trying to reach and secure the crash scene. As we watched, the person playing the demo fought his way through the narrow streets and alleyways of the city, battling gunmen who appeared on the street, in windows, and on rooftops. Occasionally, he encountered separated American soldiers, who then joined his group. You can give squad commands to your teammates, such as ordering them to heal you, give you ammunition, or go out ahead of you onto the street. The computer-controlled teammates were fairly good about engaging the enemy and watching your flanks, and you want to keep them as healthy as possible, as that will affect your mission score.

As we noted earlier, the PS2 version is different from the Xbox version, and it will come with three extra weapons that aren't featured in the Xbox version of the game, including the G3 and G36 assault rifles, as well as a new sniper rifle. The PS2 version can also support an impressive 32 players online, though if you host a game you'll be limited to a smaller number.

The Xbox version is based on the PC version, which is natural given the close links between the Xbox and PC architectures. We saw the helicopter assault, and watched as Army Rangers boarded Black Hawk helicopters while the main character jumped onto the sideboards of a Little Bird helicopter for the ride into the city. NovaLogic found some way to really max out Xbox Live, and it has blown past the traditional 16-player limit for online play. The Xbox version can support 50 players on Xbox Live, though, once again, the number is smaller if you choose to host a game yourself. Both version of Black Hawk Down are nearing completion, and they'll ship in mid-July.

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