Delta Force Xtreme 2
Back in the day, the Delta Force games were the hot thing for PC. Featuring large scale multiplayer battles on impressively rendered maps, the series broke ground with its voxel graphics technology, networking, and attention to bullet physics. Unfortunately, the series fell by the wayside when intricate polygons and shiny textures became the norm; the series scored a moderate success with Delta Force: Black Hawk Down, a game that propelled the series into more modern territory. That was six years ago, though. Delta Force Xtreme, and now Delta Force Xtreme 2, are based on Black Hawk’s dated 3D engine. Still, Xtreme 2 is a budget title selling for a third of the price of its contemporaries. Does the series still hold enough magic to warrant another plunge into combat?
Xtreme 2 offers two single-player campaigns and a multiplayer suite. The campaigns take place on large, open maps with lots of wiggle room for variety - players are never forced to sneak around or go in guns blazing. Unfortunately, the presentation is a little too bland, and things like jumping out of helicopters or riding dirt bikes under fire are a lot less exciting than they should be. Chalk it up to the ugly graphics and bare minimum of animation, music, and acting; the gameplay is solid, but it really feels like a foundation for something bigger. Still, the two campaigns will most likely satiate long-running fans of the series; just don’t expect anything in the way of plot or excitement. Considering the Xtreme moniker, the game is fairly dry.
The multiplayer is the real meat of this title, however. Delta Force is famous for its large player caps, and Xtreme 2 is no different. On a good day, dozens and dozens of people will populate certain servers, and the overall experience of playing in one of these large groups is lots of fun. The gameplay has been wound down a tad from the old days, though. No longer are the bullet physics as realistic as they come. Xtreme 2 opts for a wilder style of match filled with vehicles and players wielding whatever large weapon they choose. The shift away from realism will annoy some, but it doesn’t detract from the fact that, on a good server, Xtreme 2 can be a barrel of laughs.
The main thing Xtreme 2 has going for it is size. Whether it be multiplayer or singleplayer, the maps are absolutely massive, and as mentioned before, can be approached from virtually any angle imaginable. In online skirmishes, this can be quite exciting; with two teams vying for control over the center of a map, there’s room for any strategy you like, and given the number of people who can play at any given time, things can get extremely unpredictable. Gung-ho soldiers will have to be on the lookout for snipers. Snipers will need to be wary of sneaky commandos with sharp knives. Commandos will have to check every step twice, in case an explosives expert has set a trap for them; and naturally, those players should hope that there aren’t any well-armed soldiers coming up behind them while they’re busy laying booby traps. There is no rigid class structure in Xtreme 2 - again, something that will annoy purists - but players can choose their gear before they spawn, which lends a little more freedom to the whole process.
One thing that doesn’t work so well with the size of each map is the presence of vehicles. The balance of power is entirely broken when all players have access to nearly-invincible buggies, jeeps, and motorcycles on practically every map. Vehicles are a fine addition to any shooter; however, they need to be done right, and in Xtreme 2, they’re a giant pain for people inside and outside of them. Getting rid of a player in a vehicle is a tough operation when each one zips around at a million miles an hour or so. Hopping on a bike and rushing to the enemy base to kill a few spawning players is far too easy. At least, it is if the path to the base is a straight line. Controlling these speed demons is a difficult task, as the physics engine is planted firmly in 2003 or so. Steering and maneuvering in general while driving is next to impossible. It’s bad enough for a feature to be broken for one side in a multiplayer game, but having it be broken for both sides? That’s a tragedy. There are other little niggles, like the fact that soldiers on both teams are exactly the same model. That’s just asking for friendly fire.
This title may have a hard time finding a niche, though. The less-realistic gameplay may turn off series veterans, and the presentation is too archaic to draw in many newcomers. Those who play Delta Force Xtreme 2 and accept it for what it is will have a wonderful time. For outsiders, it may be a difficult pill to swallow. While the core mechanics of the game are solid, it isn’t enough to distract from the outdated visuals and presentation. Xtreme 2 succeeds as a budget game - it just doesn’t cater to any audience in particular. A lack of focus is the overarching problem with this decent budget title.
Five out of ten