Review By: Gabriel Strange | Posted: 25/03/2004
The Final Word
Like cheese, some games are just too ripe and some are just immature.
As far as expansion packs go, there is little or nothing much they can improve over the original game, usually it use a selection of new missions and a few basic game updates. It seems that that's all that Team Sabre has to offer, though the stories are good there are many more things they could have added, and some things they should not have done.
So to make my review fair and give myself some grounding I decided to play the original game Black Hawk Down right through to the end. But this is not a review of that game, but rather its expansion.
One thing that really struck me at first was that the install procedure of Team Sabre was not the best in the world; it was unclear at times what I had to do, and where things needed to be installed. I even suffered from the online update not installing properly so I had to fix that as well, a few simple instructions and pointers in the right directions, and what order you have to do things in would have been nice. At one point I was asked to select the game executable so that Team Sabre can update it, this would have been easy if there was only one executable and not three. The other worry at this point was that I had already updated the game so would this new update take properly on this update? Well I guess it did as nothing bad happened with the original game.
Anyway beyond the Installer problems everything seemed fine, well as fine as it could be when you have opened the box but not tasted the chocolates.
Basing this on the original game play experience, nothing much has changed the control method is still the same, and it's still as smooth as the original. To be honest there is nothing much they could have done to it to make it better.
One of the big changes over the original BHD, was the suspension of reality, the original made things gritty and realistic, and gave you a feeling that you were actually there. Team Sabre is the Hollywood action movie sequel, really this has no grounds in reality, at one point I was looking at a hillside with over a hundred dead bodies on it all killed by me. I find it hard to believe that any Columbian drug baron has that many people willing to die for him, twenty or thirty at the most. I'm not sure on the population of Columbia, but I'm fairly sure that if this game was real I would have made a sizable dent.
One of the things they have tried to do is make the expansion a little more difficult than the pervious game. But rather than thinking about the situation at hand and making things hard, they have just thrown hundreds of men for you to kill. At one point I was there with about five men having to defend camp from nearly four hundred enemies trying to kill us, not only that I had to last ten minutes. On another mission I was greeted with 'mission over, the pilot was killed.' I was thinking what pilot, I did not even find one, so how the hell can he be killed if I'm not even there. I later found the pilot, but it took me several attempts to get to him, as the enemy just randomly seem to shoot this one mission critical guy. Even if you not there he can be killed, so theirs no skill in that one just plain old luck of the draw.
Pretty much drawing on the sound from the original game, there were some interesting additions though. In the Iran campaign set they added accents for the British troops, and it's quite obvious they have never met a real Brit before. The Brit accents should be scraped, they were comical a first but the BHD series was supposed to be fairly realistic, but this just takes the biscuit.
Bloody hell you deserve that pint now lads
One thing that really gets to me is when a game is so badly programmed and tested that it gets to the end user in an unplayable state. I managed to do most of the Columbian missions with very few hiccups. Graphical errors and random crashes only came in on the last few missions.
In Iran, I was lucky to even finish the first mission, on occasion I would drop out of the helicopter at the start of the mission and then game over. Later on I would hit graphics problems which would cause things to cycle in and out of visibility. Yet after a few attempts I managed to get past the first mission. However I could not even get past the lead in story to the second mission, so this is where I gave up on the game and decided to start writing. I got to one point in the game and it would just lock up, I would have to hit reset (even in win2k I could not recover.) On three occasions I struggled to get my desktop working again, at one point I lost my icons and had to manually start explorer to get them back. The last two times I lost active desktop, which I don't use, so how could I get the active desktop error. So for fear of my PC and windows I stopped playing this game.
When a game has bugs that's one thing but when a game has bugs which are potentially damaging that's another. It's not as though I was running the initial install I made sure the game was running the latest patches and updates. So if this is the standard a great game has been reduced to, then it shows they have no dedication to the fan base they have created.
Admittedly some of these problems could be cause by my PC setup, but I run standard hardware and software, I always keep thing up to date, and make sure any dodgy programs are removed ASAP.
I'm running an Nvidia Workstation graphics card, the Quadra 4 DCC, and a Tyan Tiger Duel CPU board, along with standard Sound blaster 1024 card and everything else is the kind of thing you would get in most high street PC stores. So I would not place the emphasis of these problems on my PC but rather on the lack of testing and bad programming.
The worst thing I can say about this expansion is it should have stayed another six months in development, as it's a poor sequel to the wonderful BHD. If you're after realism this is not the place you will find it.
Some of the maps have strong elements but upping the ante with more enemies in an expansion like this, just destroys any foundation the original game created. All I can say is, come on Novalogic you can do better than this.