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Posted on Aug 4, 2006 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

ALFA: Antiterror – Recon (PC)

By Thomas Martin

So you always wanted to be in the special forces? You’ve tried the SWAT team, Delta, Seals, SAS and other outfits? Time to up the stakes and go where the real men are. Russia ‘s elite, the Alfa group, is now waiting for you.

You may already now that a significant portion of software games are actually developed in Russia and then repackaged for European and US consumers. Along comes a new title ALFA Antiterror developed mostly for the Russian market but a demo is now available in English with a release soon to follow.

So who are these Alfa dudes? Initially a small special force instated during soviet times to deal with “special situations” they are best taught of as a mixture of “SWAT” and commandoes. They usually operate with great discretion so not much is known about them. The 2 most recent occasions where they were in the eye of the mediatic storm were a massive hostage taking in a Moscow theater (about 50 heavily armed terrorists including suicide bombers taking about 800 people hostage) in 2002 and in a school in Beslan (about 30 terrorists and over 1000 hostages) in 2004. Both situations unfortunately resulted in heavy civilian casualties. Other than that Alfa has been extensively operating in Chechnya where there has been a mix of insurgency and terror warfare since 1996. And this pretty much sets the background for the game.


As I was loading the game, I was expecting a Rainbow 6 clone. In fact Alfa plays like a mix of Rainbow 6 and Combat Mission.

Build your team from a bunch of masked dudes identified only by a Greek letter. Each has a specific set of abilities and can be assigned one of 3 roles. Note the sober graphics/color scheme, you’re (almost) in the army now.. My man Beta here, who’s awful at camouflaging himself, has been given a “Pecheneg” machine gun. Sounds evil enough. Just to be on the safe side he also packs a handgun, assorted grenades and an anti tank rocket launcher. That should take care of traffic jams.

You start off by assigning individuals from a pool of soldiers. You then equip them with the best that Mother Russia has to offer. This is actually a nice opportunity to get better acquainted with Russian light weaponry. Note that each item has a “cost” and you have a limited overall budget for each mission (damn bureaucratic bean counters at work again).

Once your team is fully equipped, the mission starts. Soldiers are positioned on a 3D map. The game system allows you to give orders to each individual soldier. These orders are then executed during a “resolution phase” during which you have no control. At that point you’ll see your soldiers moving, firing, taking fire for about 20 nail-biting seconds and you’ll find yourself shouting advice or cursing aloud (“get down,” “shoot this bastard… no not that one, the other one,” “ahh what is this guy doing !!!” etc…) In other words this ain’t a “first person shooter” type game folks (a pity, I was so looking forward to shooting that Pecheneg thingy)

As we all know, the world is flat and when your dudes reach the end of the world, they obviously cant go any further, can they ? Your dudes have been trained by Rintintin and can all sit, stand, lay down and play dead of course (note the orders tab lower left). Cars, buses etc.. are purely decorative and cannot be used in any way.
Well the action is underway and bad guy #6 (center screen) is out to give ya a hard time. Note the relative position of the good and bad guys indicated by icons and also on the minimap (bottom right). The urban scenery has been built on actual photos of Grozny (the capital of Chechnya ), one more place you do not want to spend your vacation in.

Overall the gaming experience provided by Alfa is enjoyable although not unforgettable. I experienced some interface issues and slow reaction even though my machine is on steroids (2 GB of memory and more Ghz than I care to count). Graphics are nice but not extraordinary. Overall it is really the subject (the Alfa team and its weaponry) that is original and can spike one’s interest in the game. Sound is decent. We have not seen the documentation as this a demo. Assuming it is up to par the game is probably worth a 75%+ rating.