Right from the get-go, Novalogic?s new shooter, Delta Force Xtreme faced an uphill battle. Note to developers?putting incremental numbers behind a game’s title or inventing some sort of story-related subtitle is a much better idea than putting the word “Xtreme” in the title. We almost expected to be fighting global terror on a skateboard or BMX bike. Funny thing is, that’s not too far off the mark.
The very first mission of the first campaign (of three included) drops you into the driver?s seat of a buggy armed with a machine gun (controlled by your AI team-mates). The vehicle controls are awkward, allowing you to turn with the strafe keys or by pointing the mouse in the direction you want to go, a la Halo. It would have sufficed to have one or the other, but having both means your vehicle will appear to have perpetual alignment problems. A better idea would have been to use the mouse to look around while driving, since you can’t look up or down, forcing the camera into useless positions when driving up or down hills.
Driving a buggy might not be too many people?s idea of “xtreme”, but soon afterwards we ran across a dirt bike, something so oddly out of place that we nearly laughed to see it. We hopped aboard, feeling like the game had transformed into a ATV Offroad Fury spin-off. Can the player perform a Can-Can or a Superman in Delta Forxe Xtreme, all while fighting off the forces of evil?! Turns out that you can?t, and that riding a bike while toting guns feels downright silly. At first.
“At first” is the key, because once you get used to what the developers did, it starts to seem less and less ridiculous and more just a part of their vision. In the course of the game?s three campaigns, each comprising five to ten different missions, Delta Force Xtreme walks a delicate line between realism and arcade game play. What?s really strange is the fact that about halfway through the first campaign, we actually began to enjoy it.
Game play is uneven. For example, one well-placed shot can kill you– that’s fairly realistic. However, the enemies typically can’t hit anything unless the target is at point blank range. This display of laughable, Storm-Trooper-grade marksmanship is mixed with occasional sniper savants who can pick you off cleanly from 500 meters (maybe it was beginner’s luck? yeah, right). When you do eventually die, you are given two options, to just continue (start a new life, mission in progress) and give up whatever experience points you’ve earned or restart the entire mission. Experience points aren’t nearly as useful as you might think, by the way. They serve as more a generic score and are not, unfortunately, used to improve attributes or anything else.
The game?s use of unlimited continues gives it a real arcade feel, but we are sorry to report that using a continue doesn?t restart the mission right where you left off– the player must go back to the insertion point at the beginning of the map or start at the last completed objective. This translates into a great deal of hiking to get back to the battle. This can be really troublesome if you had to protect someone or your team is getting mauled– whatever’s happening may be long done by the time you hoof it back to the fray. Plus, some of the missions are so tricky or just plain long that you won’t want to restart.
Thankfully there’s really only one dreaded escort mission in the game, filled with the usual morons who run right into the line of fire ahead of the player. We were forced to restart that mission several times in order to complete it to our satisfaction.
Weapon selection features four machine guns: the M4 w/scope, M16 with M203 RPG over/under config, M249 SAW and the HK MP5 SD. In addition, there are two sniper rifles, the standard bolt-action, and the .50 M82 Barrett, a sidearm, and other goodies like grenades (frag, flash, and smoke), anti-armor rockets, sachel charges, and Claymore mines. Most of the time you can pick whatever guns you want, but some missions inexplicably limit the selection to only one or two specific weapons. It?s frustrating having to shoot through open sights on the M16 over long distances when the Barrett would have done the job better.
Sniping with any weapon is fairly forgiving, and you get extra points for a headshot. While your stupid teammates rush headlong into a leadstorm, the best bet for players is to get a perch and pick off bad guys from a distance.
This brings us to one of the game?s glaring faults: poor squad control. Your team-mates, to put it bluntly, do whatever the hell that they want, whenever they want, and sometimes don’t join the fray when you’d really appreciate a little help. The ability to set waypoints and/or assign roles or actions to the support characters would have been a welcome addition. Setting up cross-fires and choke points, then luring bad guys into a massacre would have been really fun, but unfortunately for most of the game you?re pretty much on your own.
Despite these failings, Delta Forxe Xtreme still manages to be fairly immersive. For example, there was a point where this reviewer went prone underneath an armored personnel carrier to avoid enemy fire. Bullets ricocheted off the metal body realistically. The sonic assault alone inspired a sense of near panic and the desire to quickly silence the suppressive fire.
Online play is spotty. There is no LAN functionality, which is a pretty big letdown, but internet play is possible via NovaWorld. Pirates be on notice: the game registers your CD key when you log on, so don?t get any foolish ideas about playing form a copied or downloaded disc. The up side of the registration process is that you don’t need the CD in the drive to play, which we liked.
In the end, for $20, Delta Forxe Xtreme is a surprisingly decent game. You get three campaigns right out of the box, all set in massive environments populated by enemies that have equal moments of utter idiocy and frightening cleverness (remember to look behind doors when you enter a room). It’s no Ghost Recon, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s got enough personality to stand on its own.
Gameplay- 7 The controls are a little clunky at first, and walking through doorways sometimes causes you to get stuck. The shooting action, however, is solid. Minimal and frustrating squad control and no LAN ability does hurts this score, however.
Graphics- 8: It’s a far cry from Far Cry, but, if you don’t stare too hard at anything, you can suspend disbelief long enough to enjoy the levels, shoot a few dozen bad guys, and blow some stuff up. What more do you need?
Sound- 9: No complaints here. Bullets hit the dirt or surroundings with unique impact effects, firing your weapons will rattle speakers and scare the neighbors, and radio chatter manages to be informative without sounding dorky.
Value- 9: At a street price of $20 ($15 on amazon.com), Delta Forxe Xtreme is a good value for military shooter fans who don’t mind a little arcade action mixed into their sim. The game auto-updates patches, so no upkeep is required after installation.
Curve- 7: MyGamer had a lot of fun with Delta Forxe Xtreme after we got used to the game?s quirks and clunks, earning a spot in our “after-work stress relief” game queue. Shooting down a chopper with a rocket or launching a RPG right into a guy’s chest just never gets old.