Close Combat: First to Fight Xbox
Published by 2K Games
Developed by Destineer
Release Date: Out Now
Close Combat: First to Fight an introduction.
Many gamers will remember the Close Combat games as being challenging RTS games, the last of which was released several years ago now. It's a rather strange turn of events then that the name should become attached to a tactical FPS game. Right at the start of this review then it's safe to say that the game has little to do with previous Close Combat games. That said though the Close Combat strategy games attempted to be as realistic as possible and Close Combat: First to Fight is definitely more of a simulation than an arcade like action experience. The game was even based on a training tool that was developed for the US Marines so as you can imagine it's not going to be a game where an all guns blazing approach does the trick.
What's the game about?
Whilst the RTS Close Combat games were set in World War II, First to Fight is based in Lebanon in the very near future of 2006. Over the last year or so trouble has been brewing in Beirut and its surrounding areas. Fortunately the Prime Minister has managed to keep the situation under control and everything has remained fairly peaceful until now. However when the Prime Minister takes the opportunity to leave the country to obtain medical care in the US, the peace is shattered and pandemonium breaks out. With the Lebanese Militia, the Atash Radicals and others involved, the situation is a hostile one and one that needs to be bought under control as quickly as possible. You'll play as a Marine that leads a four man team. You'll have to deal with various enemies in an effort to bring about peace. In addition to the single-player game there's support for System Link mode and Xbox Live play.
What's good about the game?
Realism is the name of the game and one of the key features of Close Combat: First to Fight is the AI of your comrades. You're part of a four-man fire team and the behaviour of your AI comrades is crucial to your success. The game claims the AI will behave realistically with 'authentic Marine tactics.' Whilst I couldn't honestly say if this is so, the AI does a good job of providing the '360-degree security' that is claimed on the back of the box. The game has a variety of environments and you'll find yourself both inside buildings, walking down small streets and out in the open. Naturally these different situations pose different kind of threats and the AI appears to handle these varying situations well. It's also great to see a four player co-operative mode included (an obvious inclusion for a game of this type you would think but it's so often missed out).
What's not so good about the game?
As far as we are concerned the biggest disappointment comes from the fact that the game doesn't really cater for deaf gamers. Naturally the Xbox Live element of the game is going to be difficult for deaf gamers because of the Xbox Live system relying on voice communications and having no support for text communication. The single-player game isn't exactly well suited either though and we'll talk about that later in the review. Whilst the control scheme is generally solid there more commands that actual buttons. To get around this problem some buttons will have two functions. Tapping them and pressing them in the normal fashion acts as two separate actions. This is generally OK but there are times when you'll press the button rather than performing a quick tap and this can be a little annoying.
How does it look?
Close Combat: First to Fight isn't the finest looking FPS on the Xbox but it certainly looks good. The Rainbow Six games are probably the closest kind of game to Close Combat: First to Fight and in comparison First to Fight doesn't look as polished, especially with some of the visual effects. That said though both the character models and environments are satisfactory and the look of the game certainly doesn't take anything away from the experience. For the most part the frame rate is acceptable but it does dip a little at time but this doesn't spoil the game at all.
How deaf gamer friendly is the game?
Sadly Close Combat: First to Fight isn't deaf gamer friendly and all but the most enthusiastic of gamers will probably find it too frustrating. There are no subtitles for the introduction and the rest of the games' cutscenes. The tutorials are not subtitled either and this means that deaf gamers will miss out on some vital pieces of information that are given. Whilst objectives are shown in text and an objectives list can be recalled from the pause menu it's still not an ideal situation. You are notified when a checkpoint has been made which is useful for saving your games. Your men actually talk quite a lot during a mission and none of these comments are subtitled. The speech from your enemies (who are located nearby but out of sight) is also not subtitled, which means that you'll be at a disadvantage compared to hearing gamers.
I have to say that Close Combat: First to Fight came as a bit of surprise to me. I was expecting the game to be practically identical to the Rainbow Six games we've played on the Xbox. Whilst in some ways it's a similar experience, in other ways it's sufficiently different to feel fresh. The title has been adorned with the Close Combat name but in truth it's a whole new series that has little in common with those realistic RTS games of yesteryear. The biggest problem is the lack of subtitles and general support for deaf gamers and it's for these reasons alone we would suggest playing a demo (or renting the game first) before purchasing.
Overall Game Rating: 7.0/10
Deaf Gamers Classification
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Close Combat: First to Fight is, quite surprisingly, not bad at all. Fans of the genre will appreciate what the game has to offer. However it's not deaf gamer friendly.