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Publisher: MacSoft    Genre: Action
Min OS X: Any Version    CPU: G4 @ 867 MHz    RAM: 256 MB    Hard Disk: 3000 MB    Graphics: 32 MB VRAM

Close Combat: First to Fight
May 4, 2005 | Michael Phillips

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I really admire soldiers in combat. It's absolutely incredible that they run headlong into a situation in which other people are fervently trying to kill them, yet they go because it's their duty. I can only imagine what it was like on the beaches of Normandy, a strange mixture of abject fear and exhilaration spurred by the will to live. Today's modern warfare is just as deadly, albeit more high tech. Part of me finds the thought of picking up a Marine-issue M-16 A4 assault rifle and jumping into the fray to be exciting, but another, much louder part of me ardently wishes not to be shot in the face. Thus, for that and other more obvious reasons, I'll never be a U.S. Marine. Unless, of course, being a digital soldier counts.

Thanks to the development crew at Atomic Games and the publishing corps at MacSoft, anyone with a decent Power Mac G4 running Mac OS X can experience the thrill of leading a U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) fire team into intensely tactical urban combat without the need of Kevlar body armor. That's right, Close Combat: First to Fight (FtF) has arrived. Based on an entirely original 3D engine, First to Fight is a first-person tactical shooter unlike any other. This game was designed with the help of actual Marines who have seen actual combat, adding entirely new levels of realism. The USMC plans to use First to Fight as a training simulation for urban combat soldiers. However, does such realism equate to fun in a game? Is First to Fight too real for the average FPS junkie? Well, soldier, form up, move out, and read on, as I illuminate the key targets in Close Combat: First to Fight!

Gameplay: I Got Your MAGTF Right Here
In any war, the U.S. Marines are the first on the ground manning the front lines. Within 96 hours, a Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) can be inserted and operational nearly anywhere in the world. The Marines are the military's first responders. They are the epitome of efficient killers. Close Combat: First to Fight captures this quite nicely.

In FtF, players take on the role of leader of a four-man fire team, dropping terrorists in the restless city of Beirut. Beirut's leader is taken from the country for an emergency medical procedure, giving terrorist groups the perfect opportunity to use the uncertain situation to their advantage. Thus, under the guidance of NATO, the U.S. Marines are called in to take control of an already violent situation. Using a real-world Marine tactic known as Ready-Team-Fire-Assist (RTFA), players must sweep Beirut's streets and buildings clean of the enemy. So, what is RTFA? Basically, it is a way in which a team of four Marines can safely and efficiently secure an area without leaving themselves open to enemy fire. Each fire team member provides cover for the others, allowing them to kill effectively even if outnumbered. After all, urban warfare is a battle of angles and position. For instance, at a street intersection, a team will split into two columns, covering both columns safely. RTFA tactics are built into the team's A.I., thus as fire team leader, the player need not micro-manage things to stay alive. As the team leader, the player is on point, out in front to take out anyone in the way. That's the player's main concern, as the rest of team can appropriately run itself. Players shouldn't expect team members to rush ahead and take out targets, because it's understood that the leader has that task covered. It's the team's job to cover other vulnerable positions.

Of course, the team leader can definitely issue orders to the team. Orders in First to Fight are issued via hotkeys and a unique radial menu. For example, by aiming the gun crosshair at a certain area and pressing the designated hotkey, the player can tell team members to move to the desired position. If more than one team member is given a move order, they will automatically provide cover for one another. The radial menu works a bit differently. First, the radial menu definitely benefits from a 2-button mouse. In a nutshell, the radial menu is broken into 4 quadrants, each with a different order for the fire team or special MAGTF assets. For example, aiming the gun crosshair at a closed door and holding down the right mouse button will bring up 4 possible orders, one of which being Take Down, the player then drags toward the desired order. One can also use a keyboard hotkey to activate the radial menu. If a Take Down is ordered, the fire team will stack at the door and then quickly storm the room, swiftly eliminating targets and securing the area. Players also have access to powerful MAGTF assets via the radial menu. If one comes upon a heavily fortified bunker, they can radio for Cobra Gunships to fly in and knock the baddies out of their hidey hole. Players also have access to Mortar Teams and Marine Corps Sniper Teams among others. However, not all MAGTF assets are available for every mission. MAGTF assets really add an interesting level of immersion to the typical tactical first-person shooter formula, as they help to affirm that the player is part of a team. Further adding to the game's level of immersion, First to Fight's A.I. engine also calculates the Human Will into the action. What does this mean exactly? Well, let's say one executes a room Take Down, quickly dispatching 3 out of 4 guards within seconds. After watching his terrorist buddies get ganked with devastating efficiency, the lone enemy might lose his Will to fight and drop his AK-47. Players are rewarded for efficient tactics.


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