Delta Force: Land Warrior Preview

Our exclusive preview of Land Warrior features info on the characters and weapons, as well as brand new shots and an interview with the producer.

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When NovaLogic released Delta Force in the fall of 1998, the game was lauded for successfully delivering great counterterrorist gameplay in its single-player mode, as well as a frenzied, yet lag-free multiplayer experience. It was a refreshing break from that year's countless entries of me-too first-person shooters (Half-Life excluded, of course) that offered the same, tired formula of fetching keys and collecting health. And yet, one of Delta Force's major drawbacks was the use of a voxel terrain engine, a technology that's been a NovaLogic staple since Comanche. While the voxel-based engine provided for expansive outdoor environments with an extremely far viewing distance, the technology didn't support any 3D acceleration whatsoever, which lead to substandard performance on even the fastest PCs. NovaLogic attempted to remedy this performance problem by integrating a limited amount of 3D acceleration in Delta Force 2, but the game still chugged along at a choppy pace.

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Larger images in gallery

It seems that the third time's a charm for the Delta Force series, as Land Warrior, the latest chapter in NovaLogic's tactical first-person shooters, will finally have the much-anticipated full 3D acceleration support. Combined with the signature Delta Force gameplay style, Land Warrior should undoubtedly yield the game that fans of the series have been wanting all along. The game was first announced from the show floor of this year's E3, and excitement within the first-person shooter and tactical-combat communities flared instantly. Since then, however, NovaLogic has given the game only a limited amount of coverage - even the official Delta Force: Land Warrior web site is still under construction.

We recently had the chance to play Delta Force: Land Warrior, and we were impressed to find that the performance problems that plagued the first two games had been completely resolved at no expense to the gameplay. This preview will provide you with new information, screenshots, and art based on our hands-on experience with Land Warrior. Additionally, we interviewed the producer of the game, Wes Eckhart, to find out more details that weren't covered during our playtime. We're also kicking off the first in our five-part character feature, where we profile Land Warrior's five main protagonists in detail. We'll be updating this feature every Friday. And last, as an added bonus, GameSpot is premiering NovaLogic's Delta Force: Land Warrior demo, which you can download by clicking on the image to the right. This demo features one of the five characters, Cole "Gas Can" Harris, as well as the first level from the final game.

Let's take a look at some of Land Warrior's details.

Overview

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At its core, Land Warrior plays exactly like Delta Force and its sequel. You set out on counterterrorist missions across a number of exotic locales, where you fight countless bad guys and go up against seemingly insurmountable odds. And yet, like the first two games, Land Warrior is not a mindless shooter. Stealth plays an important role in nearly all the missions, since jumping into the middle of a firefight will almost always get you killed. After all, Land Warrior is a realistic game that attempts to re-create the dangers of being part of an elite special forces group. These dangers include a very unforgiving health system that doesn't give you any indication of your remaining life/health - one shot from an enemy soldier is usually all it takes to kill you. Thankfully, the same holds true for the enemy as well, and a single shot will almost always fell a target. The majority of Land Warrior, including its interface, controls, single-player campaign, and multiplayer options will seem instantly familiar to anyone who's played either of the first two Delta Force games.

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Larger images in gallery.

That's not to say that Land Warrior is without any improvements. The most apparent change in the game is the enhanced graphics engine. As previously mentioned, Land Warrior now supports full 3D acceleration, which not only greatly speeds up performance but also improves the visual quality of the game. Whereas the first two Delta Force games had terrain that was blocky and pixilated, Land Warrior's environments are smooth and sharp - gone is the "fuzzy" look of all the outdoor areas. Physical objects have also been given a facelift, courtesy of a higher polygon count and crisper textures. One of the levels took place around the ancient ruins of Cairo, and structures like the sphinx were rendered in great detail. This new engine also allows for more detailed indoor areas. In that same mission, we eventually ended up inside one of the pyramids, and we were treated to visuals of large hieroglyphic murals and intimidating limestone statues. The game doesn't bog down when you explore enclosed areas such as this one, either, which is another testament to the improved graphics engine.

The other big change in Land Warrior from the previous Delta Force games is the addition of characters. The older games let you play only as a faceless, nameless soldier. But NovaLogic appreciates the personal attachment that players form with a character who has some level of personality, and to that end, the company will be adding five unique soldiers to Land Warrior. Upon starting a game, you'll have the choice to play as one of these five characters, each of which specializes in a certain field, like demolitions or aquatics. We have a detailed profile of one of these characters on the last page of this preview.

The Arsenal

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After selecting a character, you'll be taken to a loadout screen, where you'll be able to outfit your soldier from a number of weapons and items. Land Warrior has 27 weapons in all, the majority of which are brand new to the Delta Force series. Unlike other first-person shooters, ammunition for these weapons is scarce. You won't be able to pick up additional ammo on the field either, so you'll have to use your guns sparingly. However, NovaLogic says that in the final game, you'll be able to pick up weapons that enemy soldiers drop.

Land Warrior's weapons are broken up into nine categories. We've compiled the entire list of the game's arsenal below. Weapons new to the series are denoted with "new."

Sniper rifles:

  • Barrett Light .50
  • H&K PSG-1 (new)

Machine guns:

  • M249 SAW machine gun
  • FN MAG machine gun (new)

Assault rifles:

  • M4 Masterkey
  • OICW (objective individual combat weapon) (new)
  • AK-47 (new)
  • H&K G11 assault rifle (new)
  • Steyr AUG with grenade launcher (new)

Submachine guns:

  • H&K MP5SD submachine gun
  • Calico submachine gun (new)
  • H&K UMP submachine gun (new)

Pistols:

  • Glock 18 machine pistol (new)
  • SOCOM .45 pistol
  • SOCOM-SD .45 pistol (suppressed)

Exotic weapons:

  • MM-1 grenade launcher (new)
  • P11 underwater pistol
  • UAW underwater rifle
  • Pancor Jackhammer automatic shotgun (new)

Explosives:

  • Satchel charge
  • Claymore mine

Grenades:

  • Fragmentation
  • Delayed fragmentation

Melee weapons:

  • Combat knife

Fixed weapons emplacements:

  • .50 heavy machine hun
  • MK19 automatic grenade launcher

More Details

To find out more about Land Warrior, we turned to the game's producer, Wes Eckhart, who's been involved in the Delta Force series since its inception.

GameSpot: Are you billing Land Warrior as the official sequel to Delta Force 2 or more as an offshoot of the series?

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Wes Eckhart: Delta Force: Land Warrior is the next chapter in the Delta Force series. It incorporates most of the gameplay aspects that Delta Force fans have come to love, such as the long viewing distances, the real-world weapons, and fast, furious single-player and multiplayer combat. But we're also taking DFLW to the next level, thanks to the new graphics engine: Now, in addition to the expansive outdoor environments, players will also get to take some of the battles indoors into highly detailed, complex interior environments.

GS: What kinds of improvements have been made to Land Warrior since Delta Force 2?

WE: We have incorporated a new 3D-required graphics engine into Delta Force: Land Warrior, which is probably the biggest improvement players will see. The new engine gives us the ability to generate smoother, better-looking terrain and create larger, more complex indoor environments. We get the best of both worlds - indoors and outdoors - while maintaining the expansive terrain and long-range outdoor engagements of the first two games.

We're also incorporating five main characters with distinct personalities and special abilities, which should add a new dimension to the game - especially to the multiplayer component, since their special abilities will be active in that arena as well as in single-player.

GS: Does this mean that voxels have been eliminated from Land Warrior altogether? Will the game have full support for 3D acceleration?

WE: What we have now is a hybrid engine that uses a 3D accelerator to draw both the terrain and 3D objects like buildings, soldiers, and vehicles. This is the latest step in the evolution of the engines we've used in the series. The first Delta Force game used no 3D acceleration, Delta Force 2 used 3D cards to draw everything but the voxel terrain, and Delta Force: Land Warrior actually requires 3D hardware, because it uses the accelerator card to draw everything you see. The game is designed to perform best with a 32MB AGP card, but it will work with all the latest 3D cards (including 3dfx cards).

GS: This game is obviously based on the US Army's Land Warrior program, which outfits soldiers with high-tech equipment. What kind of gadgetry will players have at their disposal in this game?

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WE: The high-tech equipment associated with the US Army's Land Warrior program is designed to enhance a soldier's lethality and survivability by increasing his situational awareness on the battlefield. The real Land Warrior system uses things like a personal radio headset, the global positioning system, a portable computer, and a head-mounted LCD screen to give soldiers more information about their surroundings and improve communication with other members of their unit. Incorporating these elements into the game means that you'll have a much better feel for your surroundings and that you'll be able to communicate more effectively with your commander and teammates.

In terms of high-tech gadgetry, we've got a new weapon called the OICW, which stands for objective individual combat weapon. It combines a 5.56mm rifle, a 20mm grenade launcher, a laser range finder, and a video scope with night vision into a single weapon that weighs about 14 pounds. It's a very futuristic- looking weapon, but it's in development right now to replace the M-16 and M-4.

GS: The US Army actually used Delta Force 2 to train some of its soldiers. What was involved in that? Did the Army turn around and provide any input for Delta Force: Land Warrior?

WE: Actually, the Army is using a modified version of Delta Force 2 to test the feasibility of using a computer program to supplement Land Warrior soldiers' training. Our subsidiary, NovaLogic Systems, has been handling this project by bringing elements of Land Warrior into the Delta Force 2 engine.

The Army hasn't actively provided input for Delta Force: Land Warrior, but the NovaLogic Systems connection has given us some contacts we wouldn't otherwise have. We got to see the current Land Warrior system in person at Fort Benning, and we've been given the opportunity to speak to top military personnel in the program. This has helped us understand the goals and mechanisms of the Land Warrior system better. We've brought some of what we learned into the game - but of course our first goal is to make it fun to play.

GS: Delta Force: Land Warrior includes real characters and not just nameless soldiers. How do these characters interact with each other? Will players control them one at a time, mission by mission, or will they all be part of a single squad?

WE: At the beginning of the campaign, players will pick their favorite character and play as that one throughout the single-player game.

In some single-player missions, some of the other characters will show up to help out with their specific talents. For example, while you're trying to accomplish your mission aboard an oil rig, the underwater demolition expert might show up and rig some explosives to help distract the enemy. In multiplayer games, you'll choose any character you like and reap the benefits of that character's special abilities - the heavy gunner will be better with the SAW, the sniper will be best at long-range engagements, etc.

GS: The Delta Force series has always focused on providing players with vast outdoor areas for ranged combat. Will Land Warrior have any close-quarters battles?

WE: Definitely. Since the new engine lets us create large, detailed indoor environments, players will find a lot more uses for close-quarters weapons like the suppressed MP5 submachine gun and the silenced SOCOM .45. So this will add a whole new dimension to single-player and multiplayer action.

Players can look forward to some cool missions, which take place inside vast pyramids with tunnels and secret passageways, inside the bowels of oil rigs, and within the rooms of Japanese buildings, to name a few examples.

GS: How many weapons will be available in total? What other items will be included in the game?

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WE: Players will be able to choose from approximately 27 weapons, with at least ten new ones in the mix. And you can now trade weapons with the enemy - as long as you kill him first. If you'd rather not enter a building and do close-quarters battle with the .50 cal Barrett you started with, you can drop it and pick up an AK-47.

Snipers have always loved the Delta Force series - now they can have more fun with a new sniper rifle, the silenced Heckler & Koch PSG-1. They can also jump into the fray with the MM-1, a semiautomatic 40mm grenade launcher; Pancor's Jackhammer automatic shotgun; a 100-round 9mm Calico submachine gun; and the FN Mag 7, a light machine gun that gives the heavy gunners a slightly more powerful weapon than the SAW. We'll also be replacing the LAW antitank rocket with an AT-4.

GS: Will military vehicles play any role in Land Warrior?

WE: There will be helicopters dropping in, as well as light armored vehicles.

GS: And how many missions are available in the single-player campaign? Where are the hotspots?

WE: There are 20 missions in the campaign, and there will be around ten additional quick missions. Players will carry out missions in hotspots around the world, including some very familiar areas, such as Egypt.

GS: What's your favorite mission so far?

WE: I'm having a lot of fun with the missions that incorporate both the huge outdoors and the new indoor environments. It's the best of both worlds. In Egypt, for example, you get to fight outdoors in the desert with vast viewing distances then creep around inside the pyramids and the Sphinx and clear out the bad guys. We've got oil-rig missions and missions that take place in South America, in and around Mayan temples - they're all a lot of fun.

GS: What about multiplayer? Are there any new modes of play included in the game?

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WE: We're always working on new elements to introduce to the multiplayer component of our games. One new development revolves around our five main characters. In multiplayer games, players can choose to be one of the five main characters based on which specialized skill they want to focus on. If you love blowing stuff up, you'll want to choose the grenadier or the underwater demolitionist; if you prefer a more personal battle, then you'll want to be the CQB expert; and of course, long-distance killers will want to choose the sniper. The mix of roles in multiplayer should make things very interesting - especially in team games.

GS: What's the maximum number of players you're allowing? Are you still supporting voice-over-IP?

WE: As many as 50 players will be able to duke it out in multiplayer games hosted via NovaWorld, and of course we're supporting voice-over-Net to let them speak to each other online.

GS: When will Delta Force: Land Warrior be released?

WE: It's set for a November release in North America, Germany, and the Nordic countries. The game will be launched in the UK and the rest of Europe early in 2001.

GS: Thanks, Wes.

Delta Force: Land Warrior will hit store shelves in the US this November. Judging from the experience we've had with the game, Land Warrior is sure to please fans of the series and attract new players to the world of Delta Force as well. Unless anything dramatic happens between now and the time the game releases, it's safe to assume that Land Warrior will be the best game in the Delta Force lineup yet. Be sure to find out more about the game by reading the first in our five-part character series on the next page.

Land Warrior Character Feature: Part One

Sergeant Cole
Sergeant Cole "Gas Can" Harris

This is the first in our weekly features in which we take a look at each of the five characters in NovaLogic's upcoming first-person shooter, Delta Force: Land Warrior. Each week, we'll profile one of the characters from the game, discuss their backgrounds and special abilities, and publish high-res artwork of that character as well. Be sure to check the Delta Force: Land Warrior gamespace every Friday for a new character profile.

This week, we start off with Sergeant Cole Harris, the brash demolitions expert in Land Warrior. Harris, aka Gas Can, is the default character in the demo, and while his proficiency is in the field of explosives, he's quite capable of handling all forms of weaponry, from a combat knife to a Barrett .50-caliber sniper rifle. Most of the information below has been compiled from documentation, which was supplied to us by NovaLogic.

Character: Sergeant Cole Harris
Call sign: Gas Can
Specialty: Demolitions/grenadier
Age: 32
Height: 5 feet, 10 inches
Weight: 195lbs.
Ethnicity: Caucasian
Birthplace: Tyler, Texas

Distinguishing marks: Harris has several visible third-degree burns along his arms and chest, which he undoubtedly suffered from demolitions-related mishaps. He also bears a tattoo of a fiery devil on his right arm, and he is missing his left index finger - a victim of another explosive accident.

Background: With a southern drawl and a blue-collar worker mentality, this stocky soldier is one of the finest field demolition experts in the Special Forces and easily the character best adept at handling explosives in Delta Force: Land Warrior. Before joining the military, Harris worked for a leading Texan fertilizer exporter, where he developed an interest for explosives during his time off.

Harris began his military career at Fort Leonardwood in Missouri, where he exhibited a natural talent for handling explosives and easily earned his grenadier expert badge after a rigorous series of tests. He was promoted to Private First Class after only six weeks of basic training, and after completing his phase one training, he moved on to advanced training. There, Harris learned the fundamentals of combat engineering with an emphasis on demolitions and caught the eye of the Delta Force recruiters when he finished at the top of his class. After accepting their offer to undergo special operations training, he was immediately awarded the rank of corporal and was transferred to Fort Benning for Airborne School.

At Fort Benning, Harris received his jump wings and sergeant's stripes. Soon thereafter, he received orders to undergo Advanced Demolitions Training (ADT) at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. There, Harris expanded upon the fundamentals he had learned earlier but trained with a focus on small-unit tactics. Harris finished in the top three percent of his class and moved on to regular duty with Delta Force.

Some soldiers have a hard time dealing with Harris' excessively belligerent attitude, but no one ever disputes him on facts about explosives. With one look at a building, Harris can determine 20 different ways of bringing it down.

Next Character Profile: "Pit Bull"

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