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Posted on Nov 9, 2007 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

Delta Force (Mobile) Review

By Ryan Stepalavich

normal_Delta_Force_splash.jpgTitle: Delta Force
Developer: Damoni
Publisher: Vivendi Games Mobile
Platform: Java-Based Mobile (AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, T-Mobile)

Passed Inspection: Simple, fun gameplay. Tactical choices keep the gameplay flowing. Colorful graphics.

Failed Basic: Dialogue and mission briefings are too long and have a migraine-inducing font size. A little too easy for seasoned tactical strategy veterans. “Ducks-in-a-barrel” AI.

When most gaming vets hear the name Delta Force, they think of NovaLogic’s award-winning franchise that defined the concept of wide-expanse military tactical shooters. Each time, the elite commando unit is put against yet another faceless terrorist threat, and you, as both soldier and commander, must dispatch your own brand of 9MM justice against the evildoers. It’s simple, it’s fun, and shooter fans loved it.

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Delta Force for Java-based mobile devices is a different matter, however. No longer is the game shown through the eyes of a soldier, but in a top-down view reminiscent of a tactics-based strategy game. The player is in command of three units; an engineer, adept at defusing mines and calling in airstrikes; a rifleman, able to shoot an infinite distance, depending on line of sight; and the infantryman, whose M-16 not only has a decent range and firing rate, but the ability to change to his grenade launcher. Losing any of these units ends in an instant mission failure, so keeping them alive is imperative.

The player is led through about ten missions, with various objectives, though for the most part these end up in the extermination of the opposing force. Players are required to keep everyone alive, so what’s the plan? Run in gunning away with the infantryman? Perhaps get close enough to call in airstrikes to take out large groups? Or would the player choose the sneaky path, keeping a distance while putting a bullet in the head of every terrorist that comes within sight? There’s a great variation in gameplay modes as well, ranging from simple on-foot shootouts, to rolling through a city gunning down bad guys, to going into a first-person mode and shooting it out through the eyes of the gunner. The modes are refreshing, but can be grating, based on what’s going on. For example, there are “sniper modes” in which the player is expected to gun down every enemy on the map within a particular time. This results in a frantic “Where’s Waldo” mode, and detracts from the experience of a lean, mean tactical real-time strategy game.

Similarly detracting is the enemy AI. These guys are dumb. Firing a Durganov SVD to pick off one man in a group of five should at least faze the other four. Instead, the enemy stands there, as if waiting for the player to take out the next. Enemies that patrol use a simple looping path, without deviation. Should the player miss, they’d need only to be patient and wait for the enemy to return to their sights and try again. There’s no need to worry, the opposing force is brave in the face of death… or stupidity.

The graphics in Delta Force are sharp and colorful, harkening back to the yesteryear of 2D strategy games and RPGs. There are environmental effects based on mission and location including thunder and rain. It’s fun to try and time rifle shots with lightning bolts, in an effort to maintain stealth. However, this isn’t without flaws. The main issue resides in the dialogue and briefings. The font size is so small that it forces the player to strain to be able to figure out what’s going on. There is an option to skip, however that ruins the experience, as the gamer will have no direction to go other than to fire blindly at anyone with an AK-47.

The sound effects are good, considering the player is interacting with a cell phone. Thunder is low and rumbling, gunfire has that esoteric zing to it, and explosions are sharp and clear. Sometimes one sound will be canceled out by another, which is a limitation of the platform that Delta Force is running on. However, it all adds to the experience, and does little to fudge it. The music isn’t great, but it’s good enough to not want to shut it off.

It’s hard to be tough on Delta Force here. It is a cell phone game, so it’s not meant to be much more than a distraction during the commute to work. In this regard, it’s certainly a success. This isn’t supposed to be the next-generation of tactical shooters and strategy games. It’s a fun romp, with just the right amount of strategy and tactics without making it frustrating. Delta Force doesn’t win any awards today, but it’s well worth the few dollars that your cellular service provider is asking for.

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