Players: 1+ Player Game | Release Date: 03/23/03 | Genre: Shooter
While many may be confused by the title as having some relation to the movie or book, the game has nothing to do with the movie. Novalogic has created a game, which is centered on operations carried out by the 10th mountain division (light infantry) and members of Task Force Ranger (US Army Rangers and Delta Force). The peacekeeping mission was known as Operation Restore Hope. In the early 90's the horn of Africa was enraged by a bloody civil war and a famine, which had already killed 300,000 people. In response the United Nations sent peacekeepers to bring aid and stability to the country of Somalia. The United States had a separate mandate after peacekeeping, which was to capture a powerful warlord named Mohammed Farrah Aidid who used starvation to gain support among the Somali citizens. How does the game fair?
Black Hawk Down's single player is spread across sixteen missions, some real and some fictional. Novalogic has gone through great pains in order to get this game right. They recruited former Delta Force Operator Lee Van Arsdale who actually saw action in Mogadishu to be a technical advisor on the game, along with several other ex-Army Rangers. At the beginning of the game you play as a member of the 10th mountain division, then an Army Ranger and then you take on the more dangerous missions as a Delta Force Operative. The game doesn't really have a storyline. It's more of mission briefings and less emphasis is focused on why you have to do a mission. The action in DF: BHD is exciting, rich, innovative, and fast paced. You probably won't find an instance where you'll be able to breathe because the gameplay is so intense. Each mission does feel similar to one another as you typically go and shoot the militiamen without using stealth. This may seem repetitive, but it isn't as Novalogic did an excellent job on varying the missions. There are also accessible vehicles such Humvees and MH-60 Black Hawk Helicopters. You can also ride into some of your missions in a little bird, which is extremely cool. There is also a really big challenge, which is the addition of civilians, which allow the militiamen to blend in with the population easily. It's hard to spot out the bad guys because they wear the same clothes as the civilians do and too many civilian deaths results in mission failure. It doesn't help when the civilians yell at you and throw rocks at you. The Irene Missions (mission seen in the movie) will probably the favorite mission of everybody. In fact the mission is so big, it was split up into five levels. Some important things did seem to get left out here and there, but the team at Novalogic did an excellent job of recreating the battle of Mogadishu.
I am not the first to say this, but the AI is terrible in DF: BHD. Your teammates can't shoot that well at all and sometimes their stupidity gets them killed. Sometimes your teammates will shoot at an enemy after he has already been killed for no apparent reason and other times they will shoot at the wall. The same can be said for the enemy AI. At times you can be right next to the enemies and they sometimes won't realize you are shooting at them or they will duck behind nothing, which makes the way for easy kills. There have been some new things thrown into the mix with your squad mates though which include a new system of commands and a room clearing technique. The only problem is that your own guys have difficulty shooting enemies who are a few feet away at times, so the room clearing doesn't do much. One other problem I had with BHD in the single player was the lack of a storyline. The game is set up so that you can select three missions at a time, which is really awkward. You can play a mission that happened on May 5, 1993, and then play a mission that occurred during March of 1993 and not see the transition or learn how the UN involvement became more important.
The best part of Black Hawk Down is definitely the multiplayer component. Multiplayer has always been an important part of the Delta Force franchise. The multiplayer has seen numerous changes such as the addition of vehicles such as humvees and helicopters, fixed machine guns, Progressive Spawn Point (PSP's) and more urban combat. The game also has a new class system in which you can choose to be a sniper, gunner or medic and stick with that position constantly being able to change it by accessing your team's armory in the multiplayer level. The multiplayer is a blast to play and is enough of a reason to pick this game up. The only two complaints I have is that there isn't any cooperative mode and no controllable vehicles in the multiplayer modes as well.
DF: BHD uses the Comanche 4 engine for graphics and the game visually looks incredible. The character models look solid, environments look worn down, water looks realistic and the gun models look solid. There really aren't any graphical glitches that are noticeable or that hurt the gameplay experience. The voice acting is good for the most part, but does sound corny at times. The music is a mix between rock, techno and tribal music. The tribal music is excellent and fits in very well as the moods change in the game. The game could have done without the techno or rock music, but what are you going to do?
Even though the game was delayed for about six months, it was definitely worth the wait as Novalogic delivered an awesome game. It should be noted though that the multiplayer is on the short side. It only took me three days to beat the game sixteen missions, but they are fun to play through a few more times. The multiplayer is where the game shines and don't blame yourself if you can't put the game down, because it's just that good.