The guys at Novalogic put their Voxel engine to good use.
If there’s one thing you’ll notice in Delta Force, it’s the endless real-estate at your disposal. Say what you will of NovaLogic, but their patented Voxel engine is quite capable of offering a virtually limitless playing field, with literally countless square miles stretching as far as the eye can see.
Gameplay is half military simulator, half arcade shoot ’em up, whereby your special forces persona gets tossed into very large combat zones and has to do battle with limited weaponry and hitpoints. Campaigns go about through several hot-spots in Asia, Africa, Indonesia, South America and a few other places, with missions encompassing clear-and-destroy, demolition, convoy takedowns or data retrieval jobs. All of these assignments of course take place in outdoor areas, depicting natural landscapes with respectable detail. Lines of sight are realistic and the impact to system performance is reasonable.
Gameplay and mission design tries as much to simulate real combat, but this is altogether quite a conventional first-person action game with a few ‘sim’ trappings. For one thing, you can only carry one of several semi-realistic small arms – such as an M4 assault rifle with an attached M203, a suppressed MP5 for stealth operations, an M249 heavy support weapon or a couple of sniper rifles that differ in caliber size. Because of the nature of the engine, those weapons that let you scope targets from afar will always have the upper hand, rendering such weapons as the M249 or MP5 quite useless.
The stealth-oriented MP5, which could have made for some exciting midnight raids against unwary terrorists, is pointless to use because of the AI’s tendency to spot you from miles away, be it day or night. The M4 is the all-purpose assault rifle that fits every bill – its scope lets you shoot targets from afar while a burst feature makes it deadly in tight spots as well, and the grenade launcher can literally bring the house down. Other specialized equipment includes an M72 LAW launcher, perfect against armored threats, frag grenades and remote-detonated satchel charges.
Beside the weapons, there are a few other things grounding this shooter in reality, but only barely. There’s a thinly veiled team element to gameplay, but it’s one that isn’t half as solid as it could have been. Instead of accompanying you into combat zones under your direct command (as in Rainbow Six), team members are scrambled around an objective and handed pre-designated waypoints during an assault. So as you attack from the south, another lone guy might attack from the east, and another from the west. Probably not how the military handles this stuff in real life.
But given their haphazard AI, you might not want your pals to be anywhere near you when bullets start whizzing by. Hardened and specially trained as they are, AI team mates don’t have the common sense to hit the ground and return fire when they’re getting shot, and instead opt to blindly follow waypoints no matter what. Their AI is so limited that one can’t help feel sympathetic to level designers hiding the help as far away as possible. They would just get in the way otherwise.
Whether you’ll enjoy Delta Force is a tough call. It’s an awkward stew of one or two neat ideas mixed with an atrocious AI and somewhat limited prospects. Instead of being a hardcore military simulation, it’s more like any typical FPS with a Special Forces bent. It tells us nothing of how the real guys do their job, but damn if it isn’t fun in its own quirky way.
System Requirements: Pentium 166 Mhz, 32 MB RAM, 120 MB HDD, Win95
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