Delta Force: Black Hawk Down Hands-On Preview

We take a hands-on look at Novalogic's next Delta Force game.

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The next game in Novalogic's Delta Force tactical shooter series will take place in Somalia during the same 1993 US military operation that inspired the popular book and motion picture Black Hawk Down. We recently had a chance to play an early version of Black Hawk Down, and it allowed us to get a sense of the game's pacing, weapons, and mission structure, as well as its graphics engine. It's safe to say that Black Hawk Down will easily be the best-looking Delta Force game yet.

This UN convoy needs your protection.
This UN convoy needs your protection.

Though Novalogic had previously used voxel-based graphics for its games, the developer switched over to full 3D graphics with Delta Force: Land Warrior, and it has continued to improve on the series' appearance since then. Black Hawk Down will feature detailed 3D models for its soldiers and vehicles, as well as extensive particle effects for fire, smoke, and explosions--and you'll see a lot of these in the ruined streets of Mogadishu. The game will also feature the same enhanced shimmering water effect that Novalogic first used in its helicopter combat game Comanche 4.

Black Hawk Down will have 20 single-player levels that can also be used for multiplayer play. Each of the levels is large, if not huge, and consists of multiple objectives that you'll be informed of via radio chatter from your commanding officer; as soon as you finish your current objective, you'll be briefed on your next one. As in other games in the series, in Black Hawk Down, you'll have a minimap at the bottom corner of your screen that will show your position relative to your next objective. At the beginning of the game, you'll have simple objectives, like making a rendezvous with an allied squadron at a certain location or securing an area occupied by a few enemies, but later in the game, you'll be given more-complex objectives like infiltration and escort missions.

Equip yourself before each mission.
Equip yourself before each mission.

At the beginning of each level, you'll be able to choose your own weapon loadout. Black Hawk Down will let you equip three main weapons: a primary, a secondary, and a backup. Primary weapons include assault and sniper rifles, while secondary weapons include side arms and shotguns, and backup weapons can include miscellaneous items like rocket launchers. Several of these feature zoom lenses to help you line up a good shot. Though Black Hawk Down's weapons are modeled after their real-life counterparts with respect to ammo clip sizes and relative weight, they're not especially temperamental, so you don't have to worry about an automatic weapon pitching upward while firing continuously, or excessive kickback on a rifle.

In Black Hawk Down, you'll also have access to various mounted weapons on armored vehicles like humvees and Little Bird helicopters by pressing the "use" key to hop aboard. In these missions, you'll be whisked away along a predetermined path while you man a mounted weapon against enemy incursions. Most of your enemies in the early levels of the game will consist of Somalian militia--poorly armed soldiers who fight with fanatical zeal. Then again, a few of your enemies will be carrying rocket-powered grenade launchers, which can pose a real threat if you're on a personnel carrier or in a Black Hawk helicopter. But in many cases, you'll find that enemy troops have a tendency to swarm toward you when you've hitched a ride on a vehicle, and they'll even pull up in their own trucks and technicals. Fortunately, if your aim is true, you'll be able to shoot out their engine blocks and blast them sky-high.

Your teammates can help you out in tough fights.
Your teammates can help you out in tough fights.

On foot, your enemies will take cover behind any nearby scenery and fire at you mercilessly. Fortunately, your squadmates will follow you into battle and provide covering fire. Your teammates in Black Hawk Down are equipped with "node-based AI," which lets them react to specific situations, such as taking enemy fire, with specific behaviors. If you're under fire, they'll close in and pick off faraway enemies, and if you're chasing a specific enemy over a balcony, they'll cover each other until the last teammate has a chance to hop off the edge and continue the pursuit.

Delta Force: Black Hawk Down is shaping up to be a solid shooter, and since the game will have 20 expansive levels that can be played through in both single-player and multiplayer play, it should last prospective Army Rangers a good long while when it's released later this year.

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