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Publisher: Aspyr Media    Genre: Action
Min OS X: 10.2.8    CPU: G4 @ 1000 MHz    RAM: 512 MB    DVD-ROM    Graphics: 64 MB VRAM

Delta Force: Black Hawk Down
July 22, 2004 | Eric Ford

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Toss out those forest camos and wilderness survival kits. Pack some desert fatigues, suntan lotion, and some nice shades: itís time to move out to the desert, soldier! Such is the theme for Novalogicís Delta Force: Black Hawk Down, a realistic (and partially based on truth) retelling of the conflict that took place between 1992 and 1993 in war torn Somalia. Already, Black Hawk Down stands out among other first person shooters for taking place in an era outside of World War II and for portraying one of the most realistic war experiences of modern times. Thatís all well and good, but is it fun? Read on to find out.

Better Than History Class. . .
A quick glance at the instruction booklet and youíll see that Novalogic is serious about informing gamers about the troubled times this game takes place in. There are several pages of explanations detailing the different groups that took part in this operation and the reasons for it existing in the first place. While all of it can be considered purely optional reading, the developers get a big thumbs up for including it in the manual. Their attempt to make Black Hawk Down a memorial Ďtributeí succeeds simply on this fact alone.

To quickly recap the background story, the United Nations has embarked on a series of missions to alleviate the famine and anarchy ensuing in the war torn nation of Somalia. The United States, partaking in the UN missions, sends several of their own special units to the country in order to help bring relief and set up security measures. However, the missions were met with opposition from several factions wishing to take central control of the nation. This is where you come in. Taking the part of squad leader in one of the units, you are responsible for protecting convoys, dispatching those that would interrupt the relief aid, and bringing peace to the country.

There are sixteen missions in all, ranging from providing cover fire for a relief convoy to infiltrating a hotel filled with terrorists and extracting key hostages by helicopter. Suffice to say, there is quite a bit of variety in mission objectives, all of it culminating with the famous mission that has your character rushing to provide backup for the two Black Hawk helicopters that are shot down. Many of the missions (including the one I just mentioned) are based on Ďactual events,í while the rest are fictitious and created by the developer. Of course, there isnít a mission-by-mission list of what is exactly accurate, but rest assured that for the most part, you are reliving history.

So Real I Can Taste The Dirt. . .
Black Hawk Down features a decent graphics engine for powering this romp through the desert. The buildings are realistically created as dilapidated shacks, and the rubble and trash of a ravaged country is accurately portrayed. Unfortunately, compared to several of the newer first person shooters currently out (namely Unreal Tournament 2004 and Call of Duty), Black Hawk Down shows its age. There are several times when the sky or some of the models would turn pixilated, and Iíve had my fair share of slowdown (sometimes from just moving too close to a wall). Considering that this title was reviewed on a Dual 2.0 G5 with an ATI Radeon 9500 (64 MB of video RAM and 1.5 Gigs of regular RAM), its hard to figure out what is the ideal machine to run this game on (but then again, some games arenít mean to run with every thing on high quality).

Another small complaint, and this really isnít Novalogicís fault, is the lack of variety in the various single player missions. You have your fair share of night and day missions, with one or two near rivers and the rest out in the open or in cities. However, one thing every mission has in common is the fact that it all takes place in the desert. Everywhere you look is a sea of orange and yellow, with no sign of relief in sight. Also, when placed in cities, every housing structure looks just like the other. Iím sure this might have been done for authenticity, but regardless, it can detract from the playing experience.

Despite these (relatively minor) complaints, Black Hawk Down isnít an ugly game to look at. There are some nice graphical effects in explosions and night vision. Also, the first time you watch a pack of helicopters traveling low above the ocean kicking up lots of water in their midst is very beautiful indeed.


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