Reviewed by Cameron Bourne | May 20th 2005

The U.S. Military has given us a few good games already, from Full Spectrum Warrior on our own Xbox, to America 's Army, the free P.C. online based shooter. Now they have Close Combat: First to Fight, the question is; is there anything new for it to bring to the genre?

The Game
Close Combat First to fight is a tactical team based First Person Shooter, similar to the Ghost Recon Series or Brothers in Arms. This game however is based off an army simulation so you would expect it to be ultra realistic. The thing that may surprise you is that the game actually gives you plenty of opportunities to make up for your mistakes. Unlike Brothers in Arms both you and your teammates can take quite a substantial number of hits before you go down, same goes for the enemies. That leads the game into more kill anything you see territory rather than tactically eliminate or capture enemies. It's a little disappointing because I was hoping to do quite a bit more strategic thinking than I actually did. However if you take the time to really learn the controls the game can be a bit different experience. Testing your memory of the Xbox controller the game uses pretty much every button for something, which is weird because even with all the complication the game just felt too bare bones. The linear levels, identical enemies, not much variety in weapons, overall there just isn't anything that sets First to Fight apart from other games like it. That isn't saying it's a bad game, it just isn't innovative or exciting. Even the story ends up being pretty predictable, you're sent into Beirut Lebanon to stop a group of rebel militants, it makes for some could-be interesting urban street fights, however killing each enemy doesn't feel like much more than a chore, as apposed to fun.

What First to Fight does have going for it is the value. The game has 22 levels overall and about 15-20 hours of gameplay and supports both split screen, co-op for up to 4 players, and a full online component. The multiplayer isn't really anything to write home about though; it's pretty much just a team deathmatch pitting 2 teams of 4 against each other. Thankfully Xbox Live support does help to make the multiplayer a little bit more interesting, and the fact that you can have 4 players in co-op is a nice addition that game developers just don't do enough.

Graphics & Sound
The graphics in First to Fight are both a pleasant surprise and yet they can also be fairly ugly at the same time. The textures and the gun look quite good, and the urban environments may even surprise you with how good they look, but the characters and the visual effects are plain and boring. It's interesting to see the difference in graphics because I'm sure the game could have been much more in the graphics department.

The sound, well wait, was there sound? The game is almost completely silent during gameplay, which is what you will hear 95% of the time. When you do hear sound though it is pretty good, the voiceovers work quite well and the sounds of effects such as explosions are pretty decent. The sound could of used some work in the end, but in the end it isn't all bad.

What can be said, the game really doesn't innovate. The gameplay is pretty simple and you can tell that they borrow quite a bit from other squad based shooters, and the multiplayer doesn't feature anything innovative. Although it does some things, such as 4 player co-op, that we don't get to see very much none of it is really new. I probably shouldn't look for a U.S. army based shooter to innovate, but hey Full Spectrum Warrior was able to do very well.

First to Fight has a bit of mojo in the street fights aspect, it's pretty cool to fight in urban environments and actually feel like your part of a military team. However the game doesn't offer up all too much excitement in the combat itself. It isn't good to get bored of shooting the enemies, but it seems to happen quite a bit here.

So the game doesn't innovate, its story isn't anything special, the graphics are only average and it isn't the most exciting game around but does that mean it's bad? Not really, you aren't going to be in pain playing it, but you're also not going to get sucked in like the game should do. It's just another average first person shooter, not too much to complain about, and not too much to rave about.

Gameplay: 7, Graphics/Sound: 7, Innovation: 5, Mojo: 6. Final: 6.5

  • Cutting-edge graphics engine delivers amazingly realistic graphics, facial animations, volumetric real-time shadows, dynamic lighting and more
  • In-game psychology model makes AIs behave as though they were humans with wills of their own
  • Developed in conjunction with the US Marine Corps
  • Use authentic Marine urban military doctrine (Ready-Team-Fire-Assist): governs how marines maneuver through urban environments
  • Use the Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) to destroy enemies: call for fire and support from Cobra helicopters, mortar, other fireteams, tanks, AAVs
  • Use true military tactics to defeat enemies: lay suppressing fire, flank enemies, separate leaders from enemies, etc.

Close Combat:
First to Fight

2K Games
April 2005