It has been almost a year now since the latest installment into the Delta Force series, and when you consider that Team Sabre, the game in review today, is just an add-on pack, that is a pretty long time indeed. For many gamers, this is not yet a proven series despite the fact it has been going for a few years, unfortunately it just hasn't established enough of a fan base to create a considerable presence. However, Novalogic are slowly getting there, but is Team Sabre finally the game the series has been waiting for?
New with Team Sabre are Iran and Columbia campaigns, most of which consist of cliche missions - that is, Iran and oil rigs/field, and Columbia with drug lords. This is a fitting aspect though, as the game is obviously not trying to edge in on the Raven Shield market, it is very much an arcade style shooter mixed with some strategy. The missions seem to cover a fair amount of variation when it comes to objectives and scenery, although there are only 10 new single player missions in total, which I expect more from a free download rather than a retail add-on pack. On the other hand, there are also some new weapons, namely the H&K G3A3, H&K G36E and the H&K PSG1 Sniper rifle, as well as 30 new multiplayer maps, which just about sums up everything you can expect from Team Sabre.
The main issue with Team Sabre isn't what it didn't add, it is what it didn't fix from the original Black Hawk Down. For example, again we see very incapable teammate A.I., which is almost too painful to watch at times. When I was behind a hill near an Iranian force's base, not only would my teammates attempt to shoot an enemy on the other side of the hill completely out of sight, resulting in a lot of bullets in the sand, but they wouldn't stop shooting even if a civilian, another computer controlled teammate or myself went in front of them; they continue to dispense ammo at something that is completely blocked and shouldn't even be visible. And that's just the start, just about everything regarding the AI is lacking. This is not acceptable for a team based FPS game these days, and should have been fixed in time for Team Sabre.
Another problem which branches off from the lackluster AI is the fact a lot of missions tend to end abruptly due to "Too many teammates lost", or similar. In all fairness, an SAS assault team isn't going to pack up and go home 15 feet away from their last objective because a teammate was fatally shot, making this dreaded message most annoying. On top of this, a lot of the time it is completely out of your control, due to the bad AI this game really forces you to do everything, and sometimes babysitting two overgrown toddlers in assault gear is the last thing on your mind while fighting off baddies in a Columbian jungle. And worse yet, since you only have 3 in game saves available to use, you will often find yourself continuously restarting missions ages away from completion. When you think about it, all these problems stem from the poor AI.
Despite the annoyances though, Team Sabre is still just as fun as BHD was. If you love a bit of action then Team Sabre will provide it - exploding cars every which way, high speed boat and car pursuits with mounted machine guns galore, high paced close quarter combat; it's all here. As mentioned earlier, this is not really a Raven Shield alternative. Although some aspects like no life bar and injures are pretty realistic, the basic motto of the game is certainly fun over reality, and hey, I guess for most people that's what gaming is all about.
Graphics wise, Team Sabre seems identical to the original BHD, no visual enhancements seem apparent. I would imagine the game's engine has reached its visual peak, and understandably Team Sabre doesn't have any more room to work with. This isn't to say the graphics are necessarily poor, they look quite good in most situations, however, don't expect Unreal Tournament 2003 or Raven Shield style detail even on the highest end system.
Although this is no Battlefield 1942, Team Sabre allows you to take control of a few different ingame weaponry. These primarily consist of machine guns mounted on vehicles, lack hawk helicopters and boats. During single player they're not just there to use at any time, they usually become an integral part of a mission's success, though they still add a new dimension to the basic control system.
On top of this, you have your usual WASD player control setup with a few extra functions like peeking done by E and Q. You also have the now standard prone, crouch and upright stances to operate in, each designed for different situations. Combined in total, the controls are quite fitting for the game's environments and really allow you to implement real life style tactics for concealment and engagement. If it wasn't for a few oddly placed keys, like shift as 'Action', the controls in Team Sabre would be just about right.
Team Sabre is just a simple add-on for Black Hawk Down, which creates a rather clear and unfavorable catch-22 for Novalogic; I doubt many people will run out and buy it without first being familiar with Delta Force: Black Hawk Down, and unfortunately, if you are familiar with Black Hawk Down, Team Sabre isn't going to overly excite you due to the reasonably basic improvements. Nevertheless, if you wanted a few extra guns, campaigns and a plethora of new multiplayer maps for Black Hawk Down, this is the add-on for you, just expect it to play exactly how Black Hawk Down did.