Close Combat: First to Fight

Format: Xbox
2K Games

5 026555 241441
Age Restrictions: 16+
29 April 2005

You are the first to fight - a marine on the front lines of urban combat in Beirut. Lead a 4-man fire team that execute authentic Marine tactics. Move aggressively, knowing your team gives you 360-degree security and devastate your enemies with precise air and mortal attacks. Experience a first-person shooter so realistic, the Marines use it as a training tool...

The above blurb for Close Combat: First to Kill comes from the back of the box. This isn't the first time a game has made a claim to being the training tool for real battle-ready soldiers. Full Spectrum Warrior is based on a light infantry-training simulator designed by Pandemic Studios for the U.S. Army as a tool to reinforce army doctrine and squad tactics amongst troops. However, while I can believe that Full Spectrum Warrior is based on a simulator - I have my doubts about how authentic First to Fight's claim is (more of that later).

The first sticking point with this game was the fact that the tutorial is a "watch and learn" affair. A video is played, with voice-over, explaining some of the simple commands at your disposal. I had several problems with this. Firstly it is so much easier to go through a demo where you have to practice the actions. And secondly, while this explained how to heal your squad, it didn't point out how you heal yourself. I had to read the instruction manual for that - something no one should have to do (Who reads those things anyway?) Joking aside, this isn't really a huge problem because the first level is where you really start to learn the controls.

When the main game started I was presently surprised. It looked as though this game was going to be a cross between a first person shooter (FPS) and the tactical affair that was offered us in Full Spectrum Warrior. And it is... only not as fantastic as it could have been.

Remember that blurb: "Experience a first-person shooter so realistic, the Marines use it as a training tool." Really? That may very well explain the spate of friendly fire during the recent war in Iraq. The AI of your team, and the enemy for that matter, ranges from sh*t hot, to sh*t.

Your team range from wiping out every enemy in the area before you even get a chance to line one of them up in your sites, to walking straight past a baddie and totally ignoring it - unless it shoots at them, and then your boys start to act all confused. Throw a grenade and watch your boys run for cover... towards the grenade!

Your squad can also, for some reason walk through doors and walls and should you call your team back they will suddenly appear in a split second even if they were a good 30 seconds walks away.

The enemy are no better. They'll either deliver a shot from 100 metres away and shoot the hair off the back of your neck, or they'll stand there looking at you without firing a shot. Only when you move a little closer do they start firing at you.

If you want to be lazy you can simply send your squad ahead of you and watch as they let the enemy have it. And if any of your boys start to loose their health rapidly, simply recall that fighter and patch him up.

But, taking all of the above into account, there is something about this title that is damn addictive. It's certainly a game that you will come back to time and time again. It's just a shame that a little more effort wasn't put into polishing the finished product before it was released. A little tweaking and this could have been the best military game on the market. As it is, First to Fight is an above average game which suffers from poor presentation.

Pete Boomer

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