Delta Force (video game)
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|Genre(s)||Tactical first-person shooter|
|Mode(s)||Single player, multiplayer|
Delta Force is a tactical first-person shooter computer game by developer and publisher NovaLogic. It was released for Microsoft Windows in 1998. Delta Force was designed to be a military simulation loosely based on the United States' Delta Force.
The player assumes the role of a Delta Force operative who takes part in military operations in various theatres: Peru, Indonesia, Chad, Uzbekistan and Novaya Zemlya. Objectives typically involve the elimination of a hostile presence in a region, assassinating a high-profile target, destroying military equipment or escorting POWs or civilians to an extraction point. Depending on the mission the player also needs to make it to an extraction point himself after fulfilling all other objectives. All five campaigns are available from the get-go and additional missions are unlocked as previous ones are completed. Sometimes multiple missions are unlocked at once and it is up to the player in which order to play them in. The game features 40 missions in total.
The game distinguishes itself from other shooters of its time through a comparably high level of realism and was, like NovaLogic's earlier games, widely considered more of a simulator than an action game at the time and is, along with Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six, one of the earliest entries in the tactical shooter genre. All missions in Delta Force take place in vast outdoor environments with the occasional minor structure that can be entered. Fire fights usually occur at distances of up to several hundred meters. A basic simulation of ballistics makes projectiles drop over time and needs to be taken into account when targeting distant targets. Notably human characters die very quickly, with enemies always going down from a single hit and the player character also being able to only withstand several shots, often dying from a single hit himself. Another uncommon feature was the ability for human characters to not only crouch but also go prone. Several options allow to further customize the level of realism and difficulty. The player can regulate the aggressiveness of enemies, whether enemies are visible on the map, whether first aid kits and ammo boxes can be found and picked up, whether a health bar is drawn and if bullet tracers are visible.
Enemies in Delta Force are almost exclusively human characters. Some patrol along predefined paths, with their starting location often being randomised, while others stand guard in fixed spots. Their perception is limited and enemies can be flanked and stealthy weapons such as a knife or silenced pistol can be used to eliminate individual enemies without alerting others in their vicinity. Once alerted some enemies will actively assault the player or other friendly characters while others will stay in position and only open fire. When enemies lose sight of a target they assume that the target is in where it was last seen and will continue to approach that point or continue firing in its direction. In some missions vehicles following predefined paths are present. Vehicles themselves do not attack but enemy soldiers can be riding the backs of pickup trucks. Helicopters do also appear in several missions, hunting the player down unless shot down.
On most missions other Delta Force operatives are present. The player is not able to issue commands or otherwise interact with them. Instead, they follow orders defined by the mission design, typically waiting in position until the player approaches an important location which causes them to perform their next move and launch an assault simultaneously with the player. Friendly AI behaviour is identical with enemy behaviour and it is highly up to chance how friendlies will fare in combat. In one instance a large band of government troops supports the player while escorting a convoy. On many missions also friendly Blackhawk helicopters are present. Usually they only approach extraction points before the mission ends but they can also engage enemies.
Before each mission the player is able to choose his equipment. Default loadouts differ from mission to mission but the player can exchange it without any restrictions. The inventory is based on three slots: one for the main weapon, one for extra equipment and one for a sidearm.
The main weapons are a scoped M4 with attached M203 grenade launcher, an M249 SAW light machine gun, a Heckler & Koch MP5SD and two sniper rifles, the M40A1 and Barrett .50 cal. The sidearms are a Heckler & Koch Mark 23 and a .22 pistol with integrated silencer. The extra equipment can be two LAW launchers, extra ammunition for the main weapon, remotely detonated satchel charges and Claymore mines. Regardless of the loadout the player character is always also equipped with a combat knife, hand grenades, binoculars and a laser designator (although the latter only works in a single mission). During night missions night vision goggles are permanently turned on. The player is not able to exchange equipment during missions and unless ammo boxes are activated in the difficulty settings the player needs to finish the entire mission with his initial loadout. Enemies do not drop ammo or weapons. Notably Delta Force allows not only to use scopes but also features multiple firing modes for most primary weapons, including burst fire and a grenade launcher in case of the M4.
Delta Force also features LAN and online multiplayer for up to 32 players. All missions from the singleplayer campaign can be played cooperatively with additional players replacing the AI-controlled Delta Force operatives. Additionally deathmatch, king of the hill and capture the flag are available, along with team variations.
Delta Force uses NovaLogic's own proprietary Voxel Space engine, known from their earlier games such as the Comanche series, which uses voxels to visualise terrain while polygons are used for rendering characters, vehicles, buildings and other details. This method allowed for draw distances and terrain detail unseen in first person shooters at the time and supported the game's attempt to simulate realistic outdoor combat at distances of up to several hundred meters. A limitation of the engine was that it did not support any form of 3D acceleration.
The game received "favorable" reviews according to video game review aggregator GameRankings. GameSpot's Michael E. awarded the game 9.1 out of 10, calling it "a very impressive game overall", particularly praising the game's mission and sound design, albeit pointing out its outdated visuals. He also drew comparisons to Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six, released earlier the same year, but noted Delta Force's limited preparation options compared to the latter. He also praised the multiplayer mode but noted that technical problems made it hard to play. PC Gamer Online's Todd Vaughn awarded the game 89%, also drawing comparisons to Rainbow Six but noting Delta Force's focus on long-distance fights and lower level of realism. He concluded: "Overall, Delta Force is a surprising and welcome addition to the genre that uses just the right mix [of] action and tactics to set itself apart from the crowd."
The game was successful enough to receive a direct sequel, Delta Force 2, the following year and spawn a long-running series. The latest game in the series is Delta Force: Xtreme 2, released in 2009. Another game titled Delta Force: Angel Falls was announced but remains unfinished.
Inspired by the popularity of Ridley Scott's war film Black Hawk Down, chronicling the Battle of Mogadishu, NovaLogic developed a Delta Force game with the same theme titled Delta Force: Black Hawk Down, which was released in 2003. Due to the rise in popularity of military-themed multiplayer shooters with vehicular combat, most notably DICE's Battlefield series, NovaLogic also developed a multiplayer focused spin-off of the Delta Force series titled Joint Operations: Typhoon Rising, released in 2004.
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- "PC Review: Delta Force". PC Zone. 1999.
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