While the graphics are not top-notch, they still do a pretty good job of setting the tone of the environment. The buildings of the villages are nicely aged and dilapidated, as you would expect in a country that is suffering from famine and civil war. There are plenty of civilians milling around, which adds to the challenge (and realism) of determining who is a lawful combatant and who is not. The battlefields are large, which makes for some great visuals of convoys winding their way down dusty roads while riding in the helicopters and manning a chaingun to provide them with covering fire.
Where the Xbox version differs from the original PC version is in multiplayer. The Xbox version offers a split screen offline multiplayer mode for up to four players. In the split screen mode, players can either work cooperatively or against in other in Death Match mode. This is a nice feature for two reasons: there are cheap people like yours truly that won't pay for an Xbox Live connection, and there are also people, again like me, that prefer the co-op mode to the Death Match style of of play. The split screen works pretty well for two players, but more than that and the screens get pretty small. Also, on some of the helicopter rides one of the players may be somewhat bored as the action all happens on one side of the helicopter. Make sure if you're playing co-op with a n00b that you put him on the boring side because if the player on the action side misses a soldier with an RPG, it's game over for both of you.
For those equipped for it, there is also multiplayer available via Xbox Live. While I wasn't able to test it, it certainly sounds intriguing as it reportedly allows for up to 50 online players. The maps are well suited to these kinds of numbers both in size and complexity, although the uncanny accuracy of the sniper rifle and the amazingly large blast radius of the grenades will likely lead to some pretty off-the-wall (and possibly annoying) tactics.
In summary, Black Hawk Down shows its age in both the lack of technical sophistication and the almost forgotten subject matter. Newer games have surpassed the capabilities on display in this title to a very appreciable degree, but there are aspects of it that can be fun if you're looking for a low learning curve and high body count. The offline co-op multiplayer is a big plus in my book, and I'm sure there will be plenty of online opponents to keep the Xbox Live contingent happy. Still, with a street price approaching $50, you may want to shop around a bit before deciding on buying this one.
NovaLogic has released an Xbox version of its 2003 FPS â€œDelta Force: Black Hawk Down.â€ Itâ€™s about what youâ€™d expect when porting a two year old game from the PC to the Xbox, but it does have some redeeming features.
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