Publishing giant THQ had quite a few wargames to display at E3, in addition to their multi-genre, platform-spanning lineup. MyGamer has the scoop on some of the more noteworthy combat titles deploying to consoles this year.
Developer: Relic Entertainment
Release: Fall 2005
What if The A-Team was crossed with Saving Private Ryan? The end result would quite possibly be Relic Entertainment’s The Outfit, a self-proclaimed “fantastical take on WWII” where soldiers with names such as Deuce Williams, command legions of troops on the battlefield against the Third Reich. The movie of in-game footage shown at E3 reinforced this description, as the player’s “Heroes” (two separately controlled characters) ran around decimating Axis forces according to their specialties—either anti-tank reinforcement, machine-gunning, or sniping from a distance. Each Hero is comparable to the traditional classes seen in modern RTS games, with the primary difference being there’s only one of each.
Besides controlling your squads and issuing orders, players can also buy tanks, gun emplacements and reinforcements with “action points.” This in-game currency is earned through combat and defeating enemies, and can be redeemed for supplies and men that are immediately air-dropped onto the battlefield—once again, The Outfit is not striving for absolute realism. Although the game displayed traditional RTS trappings, the team at Relic is fully aware of the next-generation system they are developing for, as highly sophisticated environmental and vehicular damage plays a vital role in gameplay. Tanks and half-tracks can be blown apart in various stages of disrepair, fences and stone walls can be crushed by a well-armored vehicle, and buildings can have specific floors blown out to make for customized sniping positions. Touting the game’s “first next-gen alterable environment,” the Relic employee demonstrating the game emphasized the combustible world’s immersion factor into the whole experience.
Although the graphics looked pretty, there was plenty of room for improvement. Most problematic were strangely behaving shadows that flitted around the character models like bad seams. With the game’s release scheduled near the 360’s launch date, hopefully Relic has enough time to fine-tune the visuals and expand on the already hectic combat infrastructure in place.
Full Spectrum Warrior: Ten Hammers
Developer: Pandemic Studios
Platform: Xbox, PS2, PC
Release: Winter 2005
Building off of the success of the original title, Pandemic returns gamers to the battlefront in Full Spectrum Warrior: Ten Hammers. The critically acclaimed action-RTS will return to Xbox, PS2 and PC at the same time next winter, with a healthy load of upgrades and new features. Internal environments have been added; giving the game’s traditionally outdoor, street-based combat some needed variety. Entirely new environments besides Middle Eastern cities are on the horizon as well, with one Pandemic employee slyly suggesting a level based on a houseboat.
Besides the usual graphic upgrades, including normal mapping (which wasn’t in place in the build demonstrated), Ten Hammers offers tweaks to the core interface and player commands. Players can now command a secondary squad without the need to switch to that team first, enabling quicker order relay and more responsive cooperative maneuvers with one’s strike forces. If the player holds down the A button (on the Xbox version), a new mini-menu pops up onscreen, similar to how Rainbow Six 3’s command system was structured for the console.
Individual members of a player’s squad can now be issued orders for recon, with Scout, Hot, and Tight options available. ‘Scout’ will send the soldier off to a designated point, and upon reaching it he’ll turn back around to share any intelligence gathered. ‘Hot’ preps a soldier off to inspect a possibly hostile area, enabling him to respond quicker to enemies if any are encountered, while ‘Tight’ dispatches a small cluster of troops in close formation to a player-specified point. Critics of the first game’s lack of direct player interaction will rejoice upon hearing the news of a manual sniper mode. Players can now aim themselves via a soldier’s rifle, but the process of shrinking down the targeting reticule takes time and places the soldier at greater risk, introducing an interesting risk versus reward quandary.
Another big change is vehicular combat, with tanks and presumably lighter vehicles at the player’s disposal. The most notable development, however, are the new multiplayer modes. Head to head competitive action is now fully implemented, granting players something that was sorely missing from the first game’s cooperative-only online portion. Players can do battle as either US forces or freedom fighters, each with their own specific advantages and drawbacks. While each side’s specific strengths weren’t divulged at the time of the demonstration, we do know that the head of the Mujahadeen forces can recruit neutral NPCs in the area to increase the size of the insurgent fighting force. These neutral players, when not recruited, fire upon soldiers of both sides, adding an interesting computer-controlled variable to the multiplayer action.
Check back with MyGamer for an in-depth coverage of THQ’s other high-profile war game, the WWII strategy title Company of Heroes.