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Wednesday, January 12, 2005

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MWSF: MacSoft/Destineer Chat
2:55 PM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

We sat down with Al Schilling and Peter Tamte of MacSoft and Destineer to discuss current and future events. Armed with a Powerbook G4, the main focus of the discussion centered on Close Combat: First to Fight. A game built from the ground up, with its own original engine, First to Fight looks quite impressive, and contains a few pleasant surprises that should please Mac gamers.

As discussed yesterday, FtF is a first-person squad-based shooter. Featuring input from 40 active-duty Marines, the game is aiming simulate the combat seen by Marine fireteams as closely as possible. Many of the Marines consulted are fireteam leaders, some of them fresh from Iraq, and are also featured as characters in the game itself.

One of the points stressed by Tamte was the intangible known as the "will to fight." The Marines pointed out that the flow of combat often hinges on how to break this, causing disorganization in the enemy ranks. To take this into account, characters in the game, including enemies and friends, are given both morale and discipline scores. External factors will influence these scores, which in turn determine the behavior of any character at a given time.

Another factor being introduced is that, according to Marine fireteam leaders, actual orders are issued about 10-15% of the time during combat, and care was taken to simulate this in game. Rather than micromanaging your team every step of the way, your team members know their roles, moving in proper formations and taking up key positions depending on the situation. Watching the game unfold in an early level, we watched as Tamte led his fireteam through darkened backalleys, taking out enemies by allowing his team to take up proper positions while making forward progress without firing a single shot from his own rifle.

In the event that an order has to be given, basic instructions can be given to individuals or to the whole squad. The suppress command causes a teammate to lay down fire in a concentrated area, keeping any nearby enemies pinned down so the rest of the team can advance. Other orders include giving cover and holding a given position.

FtF isn't short in the graphics department either. The game boasts a variety of graphic goodies, including volumetric shadows, normal maps, and per-pixel specularity. The animation on the character models is quite detailed, and the backgrounds have a very definite presence. The view we were getting was made doubly impressive by the fact that it was running on a Powerbook G4, speced at around 1.4 Ghz with a Radeon 9700 Mobile, at a fairly steady 30fps with all the aforementioned graphic goodness turned on. Gamers with stronger graphics cards and/or processors should be able to expect even greater performance with this title.

Though we didn't get a chance to see multiplayer, Tamte assures us that there are a variety of modes, including both cooperative and competitive play. Both LAN and internet play are available, with cross-networking between PCs and Macs being good to go. Cooperative play will allow up to four players to take up various positions on a fireteam, while competitive play will feature a number of games featuring team vs. team combat situations.

This title continues to look very promising, and a simultaneous Mac/PC/Xbox release is currently planned to happen in March 2005.

Atomic Games
Close Combat: First to Fight
Buy Close Combat: First to Fight

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Mac Games News for Tuesday, January 11, 2005

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