Close Combat: First to Fight

2005 is the year of many things. It's the year to drop the debt. It's the Chinese year of the rooster. It's the year slouch boots make a fabulous comeback. It's the year between 2004 and 2006. It's also, if SWAT 4, Brothers In Arms, Battlefield 2 and, now, Close Combat: First To Fight is any indication, the year that tactical ultra-realism makes a sweeping comeback into the world of initial self-firing games.

In case you're in a hurry (and in this busy modern world of half-caf espresso lattes, instant food burger patties and colonic irrigation in your lunch hour, who amongst us can honestly say they aren't?) I'll condense this preview into a handy bite-size chunk that can easily be digested and flushed out quickly: Full Spectrum Warrior's attitude transferred into a first-person shooter mechanic. Simple, n'est-ce pas?


It's Just A Little Tube
Look how quickly that passed through. Well, let's go deeper then. The basic concept is that First To Fight is very closely based around an actual training tool used by the US Marine Corps, giving you some indication of its realistic ambitions. Adhering strictly to the Ready-Team-Fire-Assist mantra practised by the elite American fighting force (four-man squads, each with a unique role, each complementing each other in the field), you control your squad as you perform various missions in a near-future Beirut invasion scenario.

Your role is to lead the team, while the game's advanced AI routines get on with making sure your squad-mates keep things real. Hence move orders come complete with covering fire, and take natural terrain cover into account. Fire solutions cover all the angles and make best use of your team's various weapons. Even the enemy reacts realistically, thanks to a psychological profile that takes into account how scared they're becoming in the face of your force's overwhelming superiority.

Go To War
If it all sounds rather jingoistic and like some kind of soldier recruitment tool in sheep's clothing, well, Destineer Studios is keen to stress that it's simply a realistic portrayal of life as a Marine. Any contextual interpretations of the game's content is up to you...

It's certainly hectic, something that makes it feel authentic enough, but it's also a little linear and simplistic in its treatment of the 'enemy' in places. But there's still time for the rougher edges to be smoothed over, which is what you'd certainly hope for if this truly is being used to train real-life soldiers.