Delta Force : Black Hawk Down Review

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RThoughts.'s review of Delta Force : Black Hawk Down

★★★★☆

“Novalogic is a game company that specializes in...”

Written on: 25/06/2003 by RThoughts. (1 review written)

Good Points
A blast to play and the included level editor offers quite a bit of replay value; good graphics and great use of sound effect; provides the feel of the "you are there" aspect well.

Bad Points
Too short; instances of poor framerates; aggravatingly difficult at times; AI.

General Comments
Novalogic is a game company that specializes in military shooters. They've created a few fighter jet titles and a handful of Delta Force sequels. But getting back on subject, the Delta Force games were never much of a stand-out, they were the definition of "lose one cent, gain another." For example, the graphics were average at best but the sound effects were great and the melding of realism and action was more than competent. The repetitive nature of the game (which would usually span well over thirty missions) brought it down, however, and it soon lost its fun factor. The sequels to Delta Force only got worse as they lost the fun of the original and were thrown about in the shuffle with the release of many other tactical title and graphically superior games. Novalogic attempted to change that with the recent release of Black Hawk Down. With the missions being moderately based on the great film of the same name you can expect authenticity and a good amount of action to go along with the realism. Have Novalogic finally succeeded?



It seems that military shooters are attempting to ground themselves in the form of realism. No more Rambo heroics and Medal Of Honor one-man-army games seem to be set on release. Instead, they have opted to illustrate the horrors of war and the wide-scale assaults that the brave soldiers who were deployed to Somalia on that horrible day in October 1993 had to face. Don't expect to rush rooms and eliminate enemy forces without taking any damage here. It's either a pro or a con depending on how you look at this aspect of gameplay. I tend to look at it as an enhancement to the title as the over-the-top action has been eliminated. It's great to finally see a first person shooter that can both pump the adrenaline and force the player to think at the same time.



With this said, it also brings me to my next point. This title has advertised on the back of the box that you will "Experience The Intensity Of Modern Warfare." That statement can be easily summed up as being true; one the first mission begins its life or death decisions in a hostile environment. To say that I got the feeling of being in the middle of battle is quite the understatement. Peeking around corners and firing a few shots into the enemy only to see a rocket fly right past my head is a frightening experience. It may only be a game, but the sheer number of enemies and they're varying accuracy creates the illusion of being in a real war. Don't expect to jump out of a corner, run down what appears to be an empty alley, and then shoot soldiers in windows with every one of their shots missing you. I tried this tactic numerous times and I wouldn't even be close to lying if I stated that it never worked. The authenticity and the intense, unrelenting feel should convey the horrific nature of war to the player well.



Don't confuse that for lacking the aspect of fun, however. The assorted objectives and missions force you to find cover, dodge shots, snipe, use instinct, and think clearly to complete the objectives. It's this level of realism that makes the game a joy to play. Although it may be my own personal opinion talking, you're here to read my opinion on this title and that's exactly what I'm giving you. The experiencing of a focusing a shot on a target while hiding in tall grass is one that won't easily be matched. The randomness and the events that unfold craft the feel of being in the middle of a grandiose-scale battle. Of course it can be exceedingly difficult, the use of tactics and not just run-and-gun gameplay techniques provides the variety needed for the game pace itself well and not bore the game. I can honestly say that no matter how challenging the objectives were, the pure mastery of atmosphere and the sense of urgency I felt while playing kept me enthused and gave me the ability to press onward. Only on a few occasions can I honestly say that a game challenged me and gave me this level of fun at the same time. I commend you Novalogic.



As I stated in the "Prologue" of sorts, the Delta Force series has never been known for having great visuals. I also stated that Novalogic set out to change that and if the screenshots are any indication, I'll say that they've succeeded.



The Delta Force series was known, however, for having a wide array of terrain to cover as both linear mission objectives and non-linear exploring. You can still zoom in with a scope and view the expansive terrain the hot, dry desert in all of its entirety. It's in no way been limited, but you can no longer explore it to the lengths of Novalogic's previous efforts. I will say that it looks much better and supports a look that provides the bone dry look well. I couldn't help but to get the sensation of a muggy heat constantly. When a game can actually convince the player that it's over 90 degrees outside, the designers have done something right. It doesn't stop there though; gusts of sand and dust are spread through the air from blades on helicopters and bullets hitting ground surfaces. It slowly drifts through the air and gives the gamer the sense of being in that particular environment well.



The architectural design is Black Hawk Down's best feature by far. The look of varying sizes of buildings lying crumbled on the surface textures, sporting cracks and holes and accompanied by stripped paint to expose bricks is masterful. The look of a war-torn city is magnificent and the effect of fallen buildings, destroyed sections missing, and dark, misty visuals add to the overall look. To say that this is beautiful is to not give the graphical achievements enough credit. It's all done in superb 32-bit animation, crafting the dusty, dirty, gritty look well and portraying the wide array of color and varying texture designs to the maximum effect. The use of jagged surfaces for geometric damage and a great use of curved surfaces for unscathed building sections works extremely well. The war-ravaged city is utilized to classic effect here and provides the gamer with a feel of being fully immersed.



Character design does slightly falter but that doesn't effect the sheer graphical achievement found in the texturing and architectural designs used to animate the city of Mogadishu. Texturing is decent when found on enemies but is more richly detailed, vibrant, and of a higher texture quality when found on fellow Delta Force soldiers or Rangers. The skins utilized are above average and can sometimes range well into being good. Although it's fully understandable that the color and variety of the militia had to be lowered due to the greatness of the surrounding environment, character design and coloring isn't a site that blinds. This is considerably good when giving thought to what the games' engine had to create in terms of visuals. Colors may be drab and redundant at times and the variety may not be in top-notch form, but it's excusable with above average to good skinning being present and great, hi-res texture face animation being present.



The graphics aren't of the highest quality but are still fairly good. You won't find anything mind-bogglingly great here but you also won't find anything repulsively ugly either. The graphical design can still be considered good when remembering it's based on an engine at least a year old.



The audio is a mixed bad, however. The sound effects are convincing and place you right in the middle of the battle. Being accompanied by the graphics, the assorted usage of sound effects from gunshots, to enemy war cries, to radio chatter recreates the battle on a less than epic but still impressive scale. The quality of the sound effects is good and they never tend to sound washed-out or distanced. This is great in terms of immersion and only further enhances it. Although it may be nothing special when noting titles such as Medal Of Honor: Allied Assault and Ghost Recon, based on they're own merits Black Hawk Down features some amazing sound effects and the accurate depictions of the weapons utilized. You can't ask for much more in a military shooter.



Of course there are downfalls to be found. The voice-overs that the character you control feels necessary to say are of the typical war film paradigm and fall into corny territory. The hokey feel of the dialogue does moderately detract but at the least the main character keeps his mouth shut long enough for the great usage of radio announcements to be heard. This slightly redeems the laughable dialogue but is made worse by the inclusion of the musical score. The soundtrack of sorts is grating and nerve-racking, although barely noticeable. It does little to try and fit in with the gameplay at hand and is comprised of annoying sound effects and instrumentation. But with the better, more immersive aspects of the game, it's easily overlooked.



You won't have any trouble controlling the game which is always a welcome aspect. The combination of the keyboard and the mouse provide a control scheme that no console could adapt to. The default configuration is flawless and easy to maneuver, accompanied by top-notch mouse sensitivity and fluid movement. Aiming and shooting positions are right next to one another which only makes it all the much easier. You won't have any problem jumping right into this game right out of the box. It would take me an undisclosed amount of time to find a better default set-up for a first person shooter.



One glaring disappointment found in Black Hawk Down is the poor AI. You won't see any advanced tactics utilized throughout the duration of the game, any unique attributes associated with particular NPC's, usage of the environment, or even the basics of flanking or ducking for cover. This takes away from the feel of the game largely on occasion but can be overlooked based on the sheer fun factor this title contains. Your squad can be semi-helpful as a few of their shots fired will hit one of the enemy soldiers but they too suffer from the same problems the enemy NPC's do. This means that a large number of the difficult is based on you going at it relatively alone even WITH supposed help.



It may not necessarily be a minor factor but I've always been a game that can overlook sub-par and even poor AI. Artificial Intelligence doesn't necessarily affect the fun factor as Black Hawk Down proves on many occasions.



It may come as a surprise that a diehard PC gamer such as myself isn't a big fan of multiplayer aspects of games. I find more enjoyment in the single player portion more so than I do when playing it online. Although the Delta Force series is known for having great multiplayer support, I'm wholly unaware of it as my one time only excursion into online gameplay was an unpleasant one. The number of skilled players easily ruined the enjoyment for me numerous times. I simply found no enjoyment from playing this game online.



All minor problems aside, you would be hard-pressed to find a game of this genre to combine furious action with reality-based military aspects in one great game. Although the singe player portion is relatively short (6-7 hours, depending on difficulty), it's still a great 6-7 hours; the sheer fun factor is astounding. With the atmosphere being coupled with immersive visuals and audio, it crafts a one-of-a-kind gaming experience unlike many other Novalogic titles. I'll end this review by simply stating this: if you're looking for a good military shooter, this will certainly be one that won't disappoint you.

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