Delta Force - Black Hawk Down: Team Sabre First Impressions
NovaLogic and Rebellion are teaming up again to deliver a new chapter in the Black Hawk Down series to the PlayStation 2.
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SOCOM and those Navy Seals may rule on the PlayStation 2 when it comes to military-themed shooters, but NovaLogic and developer Rebellion would like to reintroduce you to Delta Force. Or, more accurately, Delta Force - Black Hawk Down: Team Sabre, a follow-up to last year's Black Hawk Down that will once again let you take control of the Army's elite commando unit.
Team Sabre is loosely based on the PC expansion of the same name, but make no mistake--this is a complete stand-alone game for the PlayStaion 2 that will feature a full-length single-player campaign and an extensive multiplayer suite. The campaign's not really tied into the events around Black Hawk Down, though it will feature some of the characters introduced in that game. This time, though, you've got to go to Iran to battle a rogue general who is jacking up oil prices around the world, as well as Colombia, where you must take on some drug lords. That means that the 11-mission single-player campaign will let you fight in both jungle and desert, for a nice change of pace.
Based on feedback from Black Hawk Down, Novalogic has made a number of gameplay tweaks that should please fans of the first game. Weapon accuracy has been remodeled, so now the game will take into account your stance. If you're running around, you're going to be less accurate than if you're crouching or lying prone on the ground. Moreover, you'll have a bit of character customization, as you can earn points that you can use to upgrade your character's abilities. Higher accuracy means that it's easier to hit targets, for instance, and you can also boost your endurance and dexterity. These improvements will also carry over to your teammates, who will be smarter in Team Sabre than before. There's always a tricky balance whenever you deal with computer-controlled teammates. If they're too good, they'll prevent you from having all the fun, but if they're too stupid, they're a burden. Now, teammates do a smarter job of keeping up with you and supporting you.
Teammates are also handy for a couple of other reasons. If you're running low on ammo or health, you can request them to patch you up or hand you more bullets. Each teammate can do this only once, though, so you can't use it as a crutch forever, and if a teammate dies, you lose his healing and supplies abilities. And if you need to feel like a team leader, you can command your team to move to certain points, flank the enemy, or regroup on your position.
Of course, you'll have a huge arsenal of weapons and equipment at your disposal, all drawn from real-world arsenals. You have a variety of assault rifles, grenades, binoculars and assault vision, antitank rockets, and more. It doesn't look like you can recover enemy weapons from the ground, but you can come across various armories in a mission that not only refill your ammo load but also let you adjust your weapon loadout.
Multiplayer will have the meat of the gameplay, though, as online battles are incredibly popular and highly replayable. Novalogic's servers will support up to 32 players in a match, an impressive number for a PS2 game, though if you host a server yourself, you'll be limited to eight players. The slew of multiplayer modes include deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture the flag, team king of the hill, renegade and team renegade (hold a flag for a certain amount of time), and sabotage, which requires your team to transport and explode a bomb in the other team's base. On top of that, a cooperative mode will let you battle alongside another player in a six-mission campaign. These maps will be tougher than the single-player version, which makes sense.
It's a bit surprising that Team Sabre is so far along in development. Though the two companies announced the game this week, plans are to ship it in the first week of November. That'll be good news for shooter fans on the PS2, and it just goes to show that Delta Force doesn't waste any time.