Have You Played… Delta Force?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

I hadn’t thought about Delta Force for a long time until I played Ghost Recon: Wildlands at E3 a few weeks ago. It was strange that a new, shiny game conjured up such vivid images of a game almost two decades old, but Delta Force is good company. For years, the series defined military shooters for me.

Voxels. That’s the important thing here. NovaLogic built Delta Force using their proprietary Voxel Space engine, which allowed them to construct enormous outdoor spaces, with rolling hills and these beautifully blurry indistinct landscapes. The browns, yellows and greens painted a clear picture of the natural features, but they also served to disguise camouflaged soldiers.

I spent far too much time during those last months of the nineties staring at smudges on a screen, trying to figure out if I was aiming my rifle at a piece of foliage or a sniper. Delta Force used technology that served the game rather than having a game that served whatever cutting edge technology was available, and it was splendid, even if too many of the missions required me to memorise enemy placements like some kind of psychic super-soldier.

The series hasn’t appealed to me for a long time, and even though the latest releases apparently return to “the old series’ gameplay” (yes, I’m quoting Wikipedia), they look like every other military shooter of recent times to me. And they’re called Delta Force: Xtreme and Delta Force: Xtreme 2. I can only assume the Delta Force operatives are riding skateboards.


  1. dongsweep says:

    This and the original Rainbow Six are what solidified my love for PC gaming in the late 90s. Delta Force had a great multiplayer component with a cool king of the hill game mode that worked very well for the engine. If the new Ghost Recon reminds you of DF then I will definitely have to give that a go.

  2. StAUG says:

    “They’re called Delta Force: Xtreme and Delta Force: Xtreme 2.”

    Fucking hell that’s embarrassing.

    • yusefsmith says:


      • PoulWrist says:

        It’s this thing called taste.

      • StAUG says:

        Nah you’re right, it should be MAXTREME and have a feature where you heal wounds by pouring Mountain Dew on them.

      • Alfy says:

        Oooohhh, and then you could have MAXTREME FLOAT, where you’d be on the water and have a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.

        • StAUG says:

          Please start a Kickstarter, I have a wooden barrel stuffed full of $100 notes for you to take off my hands.

        • SomeDuder says:

          Why stop there? Console-exclusive DLC could introduce Dorito-munition boxes, which include smart-bullets that automatically 360 no-scope momgetdekemra any enemy on the map, while leaving that tasty cardboard-Dorito flavour in their mouths.

          The publisher, with all that delicious ad-money coming in, could then sponsor MLG-tournaments with screaming fans, grown men in three-piece suits commenting on a videogame and teenagers that have dropped out of college to play their videogame.

          I cry myself to sleep at night, sad in the knowing that this is still not a thing. (oh wait, no it totally is, fml)

        • Neuromancing the Boil says:

          Followed by MAXTREME FLOAT 2: ULTIMATE RANCH, wherein you play as a Doritos-flavored buffalo wing tasked with coating yourself in as much ranch sauce as possible, before finally battling the gastrointestinal tract of an obese man-child.

  3. A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

    Oh how I loved this game, it was brilliant. One of the earliest games i remember that had that simulatory approach to action. Don’t like your starring position? Trudge 20 minutes through voxally sand dunes to circle your target and approach from another angle. Phantom Pain really brought back memories of this series, it was great.

  4. Slabs says:

    I imported the first Delta Force because the US release was 6 months before the UK one for some reason. What a fantastic game it was, still one of the best multiplayer communities I’ve ever been a part of.

    The Joint Ops games were the pinnacle of the series, huuuuge battles that would last through multiple day/night cycles.

  5. Kollega says:

    Fun fact: in Russia, the 2003 Delta Force: Land Warrior was released as a gag dub, titled “Delta Force: Operation Spetsnaz”, with “spetsnaz” in this case having its dictionary meaning of “special forces”. It featured things like a sniper who refuses to fly helicopters after he was shot down by kangaroos in a badly-made training simulation, a villain named “Pinoccio”, who is a “horrifying man – because Pinoccio is an anthropomorphic dendromutant who had a lot of scary books written about him”, a mission where you need to stop “fake helicopters, that look like real ones but don’t bring any joy” from appearing in a parade, and a terrorist organization that has captured the vine cellars of Massandra, and that’s “in all likelihood why they can’t formulate any demands for three days already”.

    Most of those are real quotes from the game, by the way. I played it when I was still a kid, and it was hilarious back then. Hell, it’s still kinda funny.

  6. Flatley says:

    Do Comanche! Do Comanche! Seeing those beautiful voxel landscapes all the way back in…1993? 1994?…was truly amazing. It also had this great arcade-style campaign progression where failing certain missions would set you back. Extremely annoying, but it also gave the later missions an air of mystery. (My 6-year-old self completely lacked the capability to clear the harder missions, so I never saw many of them).

    • StAUG says:

      I wish. I had this on the 33Mhz 486 I got for Xmas from Dad in 1994. Couldn’t do much other than the training missions because I was about 8 years old, but I loved it.

  7. Apocalypse 31 says:

    This was re-released on Steam some time ago. Having played this religiously as a kid, I obviously re-purchased it. I enjoyed blasting through the campaigns. Whats funny is that throughout the progression of FPS (CoD / Battlefield) I enjoyed the simplicity that the Delta Force missions offered. There’s wasn’t “shit exploding everywhere” or ridiculous dialogue, or over the top situations with waves and waves of enemies. Simple, fun, realistic tactical gaming. I miss it. Our gaming industry has strayed so far.

    • Apocalypse 31 says:

      I also loved the autonomy that games like Delta Force and the original Ghost Recon gave players during their missions. Nothing was linear and mission designers didnt FORCE players to play their mission a certain way, almost as if they said “here are the objectives – you figure it out”. It was enjoyable because it offered a challenge – sometimes the thrill of moving across the terrain was just as good as your actions on the objective.

  8. emotionengine says:

    I was consumed by a sudden nostalgia induced buying frenzy during the Steam summer sale ’13 and viciously snapped up the NovaLogic Everything Pack link to store.steampowered.com, like a starved dog hungry for the voxelised green pastures of yore.

    After legal tender had passed eager grubby handsmy credit card had been charged, the games redeemed to my account, stored in my inventory to behold, activated and downloaded and installed, fired up and then finally, actually displayed in all their horrible 4:3 aliased glory – only then did I wake from my fever dream and realise that memory can be a cruel mistress.

    And so it sits, the entire collection, untouched in my library of forgotten games, where it will remain, never to make contact with my hard drive again. (Probably.)

  9. master thief says:

    Oh man, I remember this, it had bullet drop! I must’ve put in hundreds of hours into this and MiG-29 Fulcrum.

  10. Mcshufts says:

    Used to play Delta Force 2 in halls at uni with an Ethernet cable running between two rooms. The rules are one v one, sniper rifles only. Became a game of spot the voxel twitch.

  11. Vorig says:

    I recall playing Black Hawk Down awhile back. It was much better than the other sequels. All of these games are essentially snipe-fests. But the guns did have a nice hefty sound to them in BHD. This series really was a progenitor of other tactical simulation games.

  12. Shadrach says:

    I have fond memories of playing multiplayer on the school LAN in the evenings after classes, must’ve been back in 98/99.

  13. Spacewalk says:

    At the time I thought that having the scope on your sniper rifle not take up the entire viewport was a huge step forwards.

  14. vahnn says:

    I don’t think I ever played the first one. I played a demo of DF2 for about 20 hours. When a friend told me it had online multiplayer, I scrunged together my allowance and bought that shit asap. Never even touched the single player. Fantastic game.

  15. JB says:

    Played a lot of Delta Force and DF2 back in the day, mainly multiplayer with a good friend. Fun times.

  16. The Petulant Platypus says:

    The original DF was great, DF 2 was fun. I really enjoyed BHD but what killed the series for me was the woeful Task Force Dagger – it sucked more than a black hole.

    Joint Ops: Typhoon Rising was really fun and I enjoyed what I played it was fun to get a team going – full of hackers though and the experience degraded rapidly from those enjoyable first few weeks – got an expansion though iirc.

  17. Ddwcmp555 says:

    People still play Delta Force 1 online. They play every Sunday 7PM UTC.

    If you want to join in on the fun, search Delta Force (Novalogic) on Facebook and join the group! We’ll get you setup so that the nova world lobby (where the games are hosted) actually works. Some community members fixed it.

    Also, Delta Force 1 has stats.

    Would be great to shoot up some new people.

  18. TheSopran0 says:

    Two words, RAZOR BALL! Best repurposing of a game ever.

  19. Talksintext says:

    2 things I wish this review mentioned that were truly amazing BECAUSE THEY’VE NEVER BEEN DONE SINCE (and I’d give $200 for a modern FPS that did):

    1) infinite map space, literally it never ended (though it repeated endlessly, but you could move in the repeats, at least until you hit some floating point issue or whatever). Yes, you could place buildings on the repeats that were different from the original. And, oh yeah, you could see this infinite space rendered without a major performance loss. Oh, the vistas…

    2) DF2 had infinite distance draw for grass (which, by the way, was “full” on the ground, it was the ground, rather than just flat sprites sprinkled around) – yes, even at 1km away without a scope grass was drawn, and with no appreciable performance loss. Any modern game (cough Arma) will force a draw distance on you, so even if you’re super sneaky sniping from 1km away behind a bush in a field, you’re lucky if even the bush renders for your opponent, and the grass just turns into a muddy flat plane that your body easily stands out in. Not the case in DF2. It was marvelous.

    Anyway, I demand a reposting next year with this relevant information added, or at least some mention of this amazing technology elsewhere because we need it again, and it was there so long ago, and wtf modern studios?

  20. Ronrocken says:

    Delta Force – The Only Goddamn Game With Good Grass! Arma can f*** the right off with the ridicilous falling walls of grass.