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Interview: Close Combat: First to Fight

Destineer reveals all on its ultra-realistic PC and Xbox military sim

Realism. It's a necessary component of every military sim. THQ's Full Spectrum Warrior has it in abundance, but it wasn't a first-person shooter. Ubisoft's Brothers in Arms has it too, but it's set in the yesteryear of 1944 D-Day.

No, for your real-life take on the horrors of modern-day warfare, it appears only one first-person shooter is ready to sate your needs - Take-Two and Destineer's squad-based epic Close Combat: First to Fight.

Set in the very near future of a fictional Middle Eastern conflict, the game, which is also intended for use as a military training aid, has been made with the co-operation of more than 40 battle-weary US Marines.

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Authentic tactics, convincing psychology models and heart-dropping scenarios are just some of the elements being touted by its developer Destineer.

We caught up with the company's PR/community manager Steven Charbonneau to find out all about the project...

How much involvement did the US Marines have in the project and what kind of advice did they give? Can you also tell us a bit about the Marine Corp involved in the project?

More than 40 active-duty Marines have been involved since January 2003. They have provided us with thousands of pages of doctrine, listened to scores of sound samples, taken us to shoot-houses during take-down exercises and helped our development team implement their exact combat tactics into the game.

Most importantly, they have demonstrated the Marine Corps values of honour, courage and commitment can (and must) be included in the game to make it credible.

Most of the Marines involved are from the First Marine Division based in Camp Pendleton. Additionally, we've had help from Twenty-Nine Palms, Camp LeJeune and Quantico. Nearly all of the Marines helping us out were involved in many hostile actions in Iraq and Afghanistan and have clarified to us what words like "respect" and "sacrifice" mean.

How key were their experiences of warfare to the game?

These combat-experienced Marines have affected every part of the game from what it sounds like to get shot at to the tactics their enemies employ.

Their most valuable contribution is probably the "Ready-Team-Fire-Assist" tactics. This is the system of formations, movement and tactics that makes a Marine fire team truly lethal, and gives them 360-degree security in intersections, stairways, etc.

It is implemented in First to Fight the same way Marines are doing it, right now, in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Would you say that conveying 'gritty realism' has been one of the chief aims of the development team? And just how realistic would you say the game is?

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In some games, 'realism' seems to refer only to the uniforms and weapons models. In First to Fight, we wanted to create the kind of realism that could only be offered because of the involvement of these combat-experienced Marines.

So (besides accurate uniforms and weapons, of course), we focused on implementing realistic fire team tactics and giving players access to the air and ground assets beyond the Marine fire team.

We also looked at basing the behaviours of all friendly and enemy characters on a psychology model. We don't believe any game can call itself realistic unless it factors the most basic component of warfare into the game - the fact that war is, by nature, a battle of human wills.

Military tactics should be all about imposing your will against your enemy. But, you can't do this unless you have a psychology model governing AI behaviours in the game.

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