Close Combat: First To Fight

Platform(s): PC, Xbox
Genre: Action
Publisher: Take 2/Global Star
Developer: Destineer

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Xbox/PC Preview - 'Close Combat: First to Fight'

by Paul Reith on Feb. 3, 2005 @ 2:55 a.m. PST

Lead a four-man fireteam of US Marines through the perils of authentic, modern urban combat in a Middle-Eastern urban battleground. This is an action-oriented, first-person 3D shooter that is being developed under the direction of the US Marine Corps as a training simulation for use by the Marine Corps. Close Combat: First to Fight is as close as you can get on a computer or Xbox to being a Marine fireteam leader in modern urban combat!

Genre : Tactical Shooter
Publisher: Take Two/2K Games
Developer: Atomic Games
Release Date: March 8, 2005

Today’s story; 26 February, 1984…

American forces have withdrawn almost all of their troops from the Lebanese capital, Beirut.

About 1,000 US marines left the coast beside the international airport as Shi'ite militiamen arrived in jeeps and armoured vehicles to take over.

Only 100 soldiers have been left in the city to guard American diplomatic personnel at the British Embassy on the western sea front…

Lebanon has been a battleground for decades, but most recent history tells most of the creation of a Jewish state out of the sands of the Middle East, and its occupation of Lebanese territory in 1967. Americans have been there, the French were the colonists, and ever since, the Lebanese have been too much a nuisance to leave alone. In fact, it wasn’t until May 22, 1991 that even the Syrians declared peace with the Lebanese. Finally in the Summer of 2000, the Israelis gave up on occupation of Lebanon. The struggle for control was not near worth the financial cost – or the cost of human life lost.

Lebanon, especially Beirut, is full of people who know only a war-torn existence. Few people speak of a viable economy, as decades of war have destroyed nearly every commercial venture in the last fifty years. Now, just five years after the Israelis stopped threatening occupation, a power struggle has developed leaving the area as tumultuous and confusing as a Saharan sandstorm.

Always first to arrive and last to leave, the U.S. Marines are returning to Beirut, Lebanon for official business the first time in over twenty years. It makes the people back home feel secure, but you’re starting to get a bit nervous. As team leader of a Ready-Team-Fire-Assist squad of four elite Marines, you’ve been tapped to be one of the initial squads to enter Beirut and suppress the opposition.

This is where Close Combat: First to Fight picks up the story. But before you hard-core or ex-mil types get all wound up about another video game making everything seem so easy, know this: Close Combat: First to Fight was created with the advice of the United States Marine Corps. For those of you who know, these men are the most rigidly conditioned members of the Armed Forces, and the most deadly too. Ex-Marines are revered for their integrity, strength and determination in society. Close Combat: First to Fight was designed to simulate the field experiences that give our men and women the resolve that makes them Marines – combat on the front lines.

Close Combat brings exactly what it’s title describes – close combat – into your living room. Forget about first-person shooters where you can run through levels and survive… in Beirut, outsiders don’t survive. Combat is in the blood of the Lebanese – it’s all they’ve known for decades, and desperation is a great motivator for extremists. They’ve been able to recruit hundreds to their cause.

Today, they seem like thousands as you enter the streets with your team, but you do find comfort in knowing your company. It’s good to know your fireteam, and in this case you’ve still got Garcia and LaCroix, with Vaz on your six. Garcia’s solid as a rock, LaCroix is still kinda green, but he really picked up on the enemy’s flanking maneuvers last week – saved our butts for sure. And Vaz… hell, Mike’s been covering for me since I got my first fireteam three years ago. I’ve never met a better SAW Gunner, and he knows it.

Getting into Beirut is easy. No one in their right minds wants to be there, so the door’s wide open. Surviving Beirut is another story. We might have air cover and a couple of sniper teams, but with the narrow streets, dilapidated buildings, and untold civilians hiding again to save their lives, it’s a hot zone no one wants to enter. That’s what we get for being the best – first in, last out…

Close Combat: First to Fight has the potential to be something many tactical FPS games have feigned – realistic. Consultation throughout development with the United States Marine Corps has paid off. Position yourself as the leader of a fireteam and try to lead them through the streets of Beirut while maintaining 360° of self-preservation. Progress is slow, painstakingly slow. Your progress determines whether other Marines will live to secure the city or lose their lives trying because you weren’t good enough to take a crucial position from the enemy. Every minute counts, but if you rush, you die. What do you do?

Our first experience with First to Fight’s multiplayer mode was cooperative. As four players, we tried to move through the streets of Beirut, but at first it looked like three madmen lunging headlong into oblivion. After each of us perished about ten times, making less than two blocks of progress, the team began to calm down and settle in. Even still, Lebanese rebels appeared from nowhere and compromised our team, leading to fatality after fatality.

In cooperative mode, Close Combat: First to Fight was fun; Maybe not in the traditional sense of a fast-paced FPS, but there was a definite vision for success. If only our team were able to think as a team, we could provide the 360° coverage necessary to survive. But, even as each of us tried our best to be part of the team, still we failed. You won’t hear it from the other guys, but the truth is that it took us a considerable amount of time to realize that everyone couldn’t be the lead.

First to Fight’s cooperative multiplayer mode was truly a lesson in patience and teamwork. The deathmatch play showed just how important tactics and precision were to survival. While first aid will give a bit of a boost, there’s no timely health recharge to resurrect you. First to Fight draws on your ability to exercise a tactical advantage quickly and precisely, but it is still easy enough to get into the game as a novice.

The streets of Beirut already look sharp in First to fight, with support for up to 16 players in a multiplayer level, it will be just big enough without being choppy or unmanageable. Although movement seems to be very tactical, the pace picks up quickly as competitors learn the positions of strength. Best of all, First to Fight mimics the reality forward-deployed teams experience first hand: it’s nearly impossible to find a position that is easily defensible. Squatters and sprinters alike will like the pace, protection and vulnerability First to Fight has to offer.

From the screenshots, it’s easy to see how the game looks, and know that movement is smooth and precise to match. Aim/look is also very stable, with the same precision of movement is required to eliminate the enemy, it will be challenging to get that final rogue hiding behind a barricade.

In the next couple weeks, we should get some real hands-on time to give Close Combat: First to Fight a closer look, but the influence of the Marine Corps was evident, and it just may be enough to make this the game to be a star in the emerging genre of Tactical First-Person-Shooters.


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