E3 2002Delta Force: Black Hawk Down impressions

NovaLogic's action game based on Operation Restore Hope is on the show floor of E3.

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At its appointment-only show space, NovaLogic is showing off Delta Force: Black Hawk Down, a new entry in its tactical shooter series, which looks to continue the high quality of the previous games in the series while at the same time establishing itself firmly in relatively recent historical events.

To clarify: Despite the game's title, it is not a licensed property and isn't directly related to either the novel by Mark Bowden or the recent film directed by Ridley Scott. When we asked about this, it was pointed out that "Black Hawk Down" is a commonly used military term, and of course, this game does depict some of the same events as the book and movie of the same name. DF: BHD takes place during the 12 months of Operation Restore Hope, where American troops were sent into Somalia. The game will feature much more than either the book or the movie, as those only showcased a small portion of the entire campaign. We were told that this was a major reason why the company didn't pursue an official license--having one would have restricted it to the same events as the previous versions. Regardless, what we were shown will no doubt seem familiar to anyone familiar with those incarnations.

The game, like the previous Delta Force titles before it, takes place in a first-person perspective and is essentially a tactical, squad-based shooter. This game is powered by the same technology as NovaLogic¹s Comanche 4, and the end result is a gameworld that is simply enormous, with some very impressive terrain, and this has given the designers the ability to depict an entire town, where every building can be entered, and snipers can lurk around any corner.

The engine features some nice enhancements, like sun spotting, where glancing at the sun will temporarily impair your vision. This may sound like mere eye candy, but it's actually quite a nice strategic element for multiplayer if used properly, allowing a sniper to hide with his back to the sun making it extremely difficult to track him down.

The demo we were given began with our character running to join his squad on a helicopter as it took off toward a town in Mogadishu. Once seated, the chopper took to the sky, and without cutting away, the player was transported across the sprawling landscape. Once the team left, the game kicked in, depicting a rough battle against entrenched enemies hidden throughout a decimated town. No Delta Force game would be complete without objectives, and here the goal was to take out the enemies while escorting any civilians to safe territory.

One key feature of the Mogadishu conflict, and what made the real-life combat so challenging, is that in many cases, the soldiers were up against regular civilians who picked up weapons, not necessarily terrorists. In DF: BHD, that's the case as well, and so you really have to keep on your toes to make sure you attack the right people. Every NPC has its own accuracy rating, so of course, a normal civilian won't be as challenging to an opponent as an experienced terrorist, but ultimately anyone with a gun stands the same chance of taking out you or a member of your team.

The version of the game we were shown was roughly 40 percent complete, but we were told that the game is on track for a release this fall. The final version will contain both night and day missions, along with the usual multiplayer modes Delta Force fans have come to expect.

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