Delta Force: Black Hawk Down

Review

posted 8/25/2005 by Dave Gamble
other articles by Dave Gamble
One Page Platforms: Xbox
In the early 1990's, civil war erupted in the East African nation of Somalia after long-time dictator Siad Barre was removed from power. The resulting infighting amongst various clans and factions led to anarchy, famine, and general mayhem for the Somalian civilians. In the first year alone over 300,000 Somalians died of starvation. The United Nations attempted to provide relief with humanitarian aid, but the violence of the ongoing power struggle proved too much for them. Food convoys were routinely hijacked and aid workers assaulted. The UN requested international military support to assist in the protection and distribution of the food and medical supplies so desperately needed by the Somalian population. In response to that request, President George H. W. Bush dispatched 25,000 US troops to Somalia to provide a secure environment for the delivery of food and supplies to the starving population.

As these things usually go, the mission was soon expanded from providing security for food and aid delivery to an attempt to restore peace throughout the entire country. Part of this operation hinged on removing some of the new warlords from power. One of the primary targets for removal was General Aidid, leader of the Somali National Movement party. Aidid was considered a primary target after his involvement in the ambush and massacre of 24 Pakistani soldiers. In early October, 1993, a mission was launched with the goal of capturing General Aidid. The mission was a dismal failure resulting in the loss of 18 U.S. soldiers. The story of this mission is told in the book "Black Hawk Down."

Ten years later, NovaLogic released "Delta Force: Black Hawk Down" for the PC to mediocre reviews. After an inexplicable two year wait, an Xbox version has been released. One would think that those two years would have been used to beef up the game prior to its second release, but that does not appear to be the case. The PC version suffered from weak AI on both sides of the battle line, fairly dull campaign missions that don't really tie together to provide a consistent storeline, and dated graphics. The Xbox version faithfully ports all of these weaknesses from the PC to the console.

That said, the game is not entirely bereft of entertainment value. While some players may disagree, I found the segments that involved using the mini-gun located on the waist of the helicopters and the .50 cals mounted on HUMVEEs to be a great deal of fun. It's quite challenging to pick off an RPG bearing enemy soldier while the chopper is maneuvering around, and it's also quite fun to blast apart technicals as they attempt to attack convoys. It would be far more difficult; of course, if you had to worry about real world issues like running out of ammo or overheating the gun, but those are just nitpicks. There's just something about blasting away at gangs of malevolent enemies with a six barrel Gatling gun hung from the side of a helicopter to get your juices flowing.

Ground based combat is a different story. Your AI squadmates, while not completely useless, are not the elite soldiers you would expect or hope for them to be. Fortunately, the AI enemies are no better. If you're after awesome body counts and don't care much about squad tactics or other complexities, this will be fun for you. At times, it really comes down to simple target shooting, and with the ultra precise sniper rifle, even that isn't much of a challenge. At other times, you'll wonder where that shot came from that killed you and frustratingly sent you back to the beginning of the mission. And be aware - it only takes one or two hits to snuff you. Oh well, that's why they included save slots. Eventually you'll find the one guy that was clever enough to remain hidden and finish him off, and it's on to the next mission.
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