A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a first-person shooter with some intense and violent action but no real gore. Players will shoot thousands of enemy militiamen in realistic settings, but blood is rarely depicted; the gritty war atmosphere also includes some light swearing. Parents should be aware that the game supports online multiplayer matches. Players probably will learn some history about the U.S. military involvement in Somalia (with a pro-intervention slant).
- Parents say
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What's it about?
DELTA FORCE: BLACK HAWK DOWN casts gamers in the role of a U.S. soldier in Operation Restore Hope, which brought U.S. special operations forces to Somalia to restore order and deliver famine aid to the civil-war-torn country. The operation is infamous for an episode in which Somali militiamen shot down two U.S. Black Hawk helicopters.
The single-player game comprises 16 missions, but only the last few deal with the downing of the U.S. helicopters. The bulk of the game consists of other tasks, such as escorting United Nations food convoys and destroying militia weapons caches or radio towers used to broadcast anti U.N./U.S. propaganda.
Is it any good?
Real-life war narratives can make for compelling and complex games but unfortunately, Black Hawk Down is a dated, routine shooter. Players probably will tire of repetitive, linear marches through town, village, or countryside, killing bad guy after bad guy. For a war game it's a pretty bloodless affair, with enemies dropping in the distance and players only rarely seeing a tiny puff of red when someone gets shot. Civilian death is not only disturbing, it is part of the biggest problem plaguing this game: Combat often fails to come alive.
Offline, the game supports up to four people in split-screen deathmatch and cooperative shooting matches. Online, the shooting action gets chaotic; the Xbox version supports a whopping 50-player online game while the PS2 version allows 32 players to take part. In the end, history comes wrapped as violent action entertainment, and the game never transcends its run-n-gun limitations.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about historical war games. Do you think action-oriented, first-person shooters give players a sense of what war is really like -- or do they just glorify it? Could historical war games help players connect with history? Real people died during this operation -- does this game make a mockery of their deaths?
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