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Review by: Jim Richmond
Published: May 21, 2003
The UN mission in Somalia during 1993 marked some dark days in the annals of American history. Even though our time there didn’t turn out how anyone expected, American soldiers fought bravely in ugly battles trying to bring order to a fractured nation during Operations Restore Hope and Continue Hope. These hard fought conflicts are the subject of the newest chapter in Novalogic’s Delta Force series – Delta Force: Black Hawk Down.
It’s an understandable knee-jerk reaction to look at the game’s title and assume Black Hawk Down is a tie-in to Ridley Scott’s well-marketed film, but it’s not. It uses the same source material, but shares none of the story line. Black Hawk Down puts you in the role of a nameless soldier embroiled in the UN-sponsored conflict in the African nation of Somalia. As you weave through 16 single-player missions, you’ll engage in campaigns based on both real and fictional events during the struggle. You usually act as point man in sorties that range from hitting strategic targets to capturing enemy lieutenants to rescuing soldiers who have had their Black Hawk helicopter shot down.
The first foray into battle sees you defending a convoy of UN vehicles from behind a .50 caliber mounted mobile machine gun, and later from a helicopter’s side-mounted mini-gun. The area map is huge, and the battle rages all over. Enemy militia come from everywhere on foot and in modified pickup trucks equipped with mounted machine gun turrets. The action is intense, invigorating and just doesn’t stop. When the convoy safely arrives at its destination, you’ll feel like you’ve accomplished something big.
The intensity never lets up as you’re dipped into ever more vicious battles. Being that the intention of Black Hawk Down is to get your adrenaline pumping, there isn’t a linear story per se, but each new mission does build upon the last in a loose chronological order. Really, the lack of a detailed story path in this case is okay. If it were too true to military life, then after mopping the floor with militia, you’d have to follow your character back to base camp to figure out if being eligible for a VA loan was worth getting shot at.
Black Hawk Down is first and foremost an action game, and it doesn’t pretend to be anything else. There’s no leveling up, no psychic abilities, no implants and no planning before the mission. It’s just you, your guns and your wits. One immediately noticeable difference from recent titles of the same breed is the inability to pick up the guns or spare ammo from fallen enemies. In place of these are medical packs and ammo boxes, peppered across the map for that quick pick-me-up. In addition, ammo dumps exist on some levels. You can use these stations to switch out your weapon with another type or just refill your ammo store.
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