Spare some change for an old vet?
Mimicking the British Special Air Service (S.A.S.) in 1979, the US decided to form their own elite special forces unit, dubbed Delta Force. Made up of an amalgam of various other military squads (Army Rangers, 82nd Airborne and Green Berets), this new unit was to serve as an overseas Commando and Counter-Terrorist team specializing in hostage rescue in the nation's most sensitive military operations.
Delta Force: Land Warrior is the third installment of Delta Force madness from Novalogic, the people that brought us the space flight game, Tachyon. As a typical first-person Shooter, Land Warrior will send players off on 30 missions to eliminate dozens of enemy soldiers. Unfortunately, this new DF cuisine turns out a flavor that is bland and ubiquitous to a fault. I guess someone forgot to throw in the spice.
The DF games have always had somewhat of a cult following. Although they are really fun (mostly in the multiplayer games), the DF series has never commanded the kind of acclaim or attention that other military based titles like Rainbow Six have seen. This has been due to the limited degree of technology used in the DF games. The word, young readers, is "voxels."
So what, pray tell, are voxels? Voxels are pixels that appear 3D in a three-dimensional space. This is what allows the DF games to have an open-ended playing field. In any area in any DF game, virtual soldiers can travel forever in any direction. While this is an impressive feather in the Delta Force hat, the hat is old and outdated, as are the graphics in DF: Land Warrior.
In Land Warrior, Novalogic decided to change things up a bit. The voxel backgrounds and vegetation make a return, but a new 3D engine is thrown into the mix. This engine is a hybrid of polygons and the long-range vista voxels. The result is a much-improved visual experience.
The cost is hefty loading times. The loading time in the previous DF games was negligible, but now on my 700MHz, GeForce 2 equipped Imhotep gaming rig, the loading drags on much longer than it should for a PC game on a decent rig.
Like all the previous versions of DF, Land Warrior features both single-player missions and campaigns as well as a burly multiplayer mode. The missions are very typical for military games of this style. Whether they are alone or in a small unit, Delta Force operatives will find themselves rescuing hostages, seeking, destroying, and extracting classified documents and performing the occasional Solid Snake-style black-op. Just grab a few weapons from the long, geeky list of military firepower (the G11 is particularly cool) and "prepare for insertion."
Even though they sound exciting, I found these missions to be mildly entertaining at best, due largely to the AI. The artificial intelligence is something other than intelligent. Enemies will try to shoot you through solid metal walls. The game does allow various gun types to penetrate wood and other soft materials, but in programming this, it seems now the opponents try to shoot through all objects. Whoops!
There is a toggle to raise the enemy AI, but it doesn't help much. Turn the AI up and now some of the villains won't make this same inane attempt. Whatever happened to flanking and attacking from all sides? Often, it's just my lone character out there mowing down dozens of stupid enemy soldiers that don't seek cover and couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with a Range Rover, much less hit a moving target with a wee little bullet.
The world is somewhat persistent. Enemy armories can be looted for a quick weapon change and the birds that fly around overhead can be targeted and executed. This adds greatly to the realism.
But what detracts from such are the empty, unfurnished indoor environments. In any given room you may find a crate, a desk, maybe a bunk-bed and one lone soldier fully armed laying on the ground poised for battle.
The fast, fun multiplayer is what has kept the DF series alive. By logging into Novalogic, up to 50 soldiers can participate in Cooperative, Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, King of the Hill, and Attack & Defend games as well as a few others.
So far, the maps that are offered tend to be too large for the relatively small number of players. In Delta Force 2, 50 players was more than enough, but now these maps are just too spacious. You'll find yourself travelling for what appears to be miles without spotting a single soldier to shoot. This is lame, but there is a notice from Novaworld (Novalogic's game server) stating that full Novaworld service for DF: Land Warrior will be up at a later date. Hopefully this means new, more confined maps.
At any rate, DF military savants may find this version too tempting to pass up. The true-to-life weaponry and all the esoteric military jargon could pull in many wannabe soldiers. But frankly, Novalogic's familiar temptress in a new dress isn't as eye-catching as some of the more sophisticated and popular companions available to gamers today (ie: Rainbow Six, Counter Strike or the upcoming Team Fortress 2). The hardcore FPS players who value depth and pretty graphics won't want to drop their anchors and become Land Warriors.