Close Combat: First to Fight

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Squad-based, first-person shooters tend to be a bit unwieldy. There’s too much information to keep track of: you have to maintain situational awareness of not only yourself but also your team—all while working with a cumbersome, complicated interface. And frankly, I just don’t feel that connected to the action. So while I’ve played plenty of these games over the years, they’re not usually the ones I return to again and again. But Destineer is changing this with Close Combat: First to Fight, a new FPS that lets players focus on smart, realistic combat action rather than complex menus. Better yet, it’s coming out simultaneously for Mac, Windows, and Xbox consoles.

First to Fight shows you what it’s like to be a United States marine fighting a close-quarters urban war in the Middle East. Set in Beirut, Lebanon, in the near future, you and your team must protect yourselves as you complete missions to help quell an insurgency. The game is bound to hit close to home for those who are sensitive to what’s been happening in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The developers of First to Fight worked with the military and veterans returning from Gulf War combat to bring a sense of realism to the game’s action. When searching out enemies, for example, you and your team will use Ready Team Fire Assist (RTFA)—a tactic that the Marines use in close-quarters environments to give their teams 360-degree coverage and target any enemy that comes into range. If you get into real trouble, you can call for the appropriate backup—close air support from Cobra gunships, mortar strikes, tank shelling, specialized sniper teams, and more.

But the game’s realism isn’t limited to military action. First to Fight actually uses psychological modeling for both your team members and your enemies. If your rifleman feels fatigue and fear, he may lose his focus and let his efficiency suffer. (By the way, it’s a very good idea not to shoot a teammate by accident, as that will definitely have a negative effect on his mental state.)

First to Fight’s level design is very linear, which only makes sense under the circumstances: this is street-to-street (sometimes room-to-room) urban fighting. You typically have a start point and an end point, and it doesn’t make much sense to double back on yourself. Despite that, the game’s level design is very creative and often very challenging.

First to Fight forgoes the traditional jumble of keyboard commands that makes other game interfaces so unwieldy. Instead, you simply press your second mouse button to access an easy-to-use radial menu. (I presume you replaced your Apple mouse a while ago if Mac gaming means anything to you at all.) This radial menu is contextual, so it changes depending on the circumstances—you can use it for everything from healing wounded team members to preparing your team for an enemy takedown. It’s a very cleverly implemented and intuitive system that takes little or no time to learn, so game play is fluid and fast-paced.

Thanks to an entirely original gaming engine, First to Fight looks great regardless of the platform you’re playing on. This means you won’t suffer the usual performance penalties that result when games have been converted from other platforms. MacSoft expects to ship the game in March.

The Bottom Line

Close Combat: First to Fight is an evolutionary jump in squad-based first-person shooters. It hits all the right notes. Even if this genre hasn’t appealed to you before, First to Fight is worth a look.

Beta Tested - Close Combat: First to Fight

Pros: Simultaneous release on the Mac, PC, and Xbox; psychological modeling; easy-to-use menu system.
Cons: None significant.
Price: $40
Company: MacSoft

In Close Combat: First to Fight, you’ll need to be preparted for any combat situation—even in the laundry room.
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