There is a bit of controversy surrounding Atomic Games’ Six Days in Fallujah, but that’s not what this preview is about. This is about the game itself, which was recently shown at Konami’s Gamers Day event by Peter Tamte, president of Atomic Games. Tamte wants the title to tell the stories of real Marines that fought in Fallujah and create an interactive experience that allows the gamer to gain a new understanding of the war.
Their intentions are good, but does the game live up to what Tamte as his team are trying to accomplish? Not yet. On paper, the game seems like it will work: recreate real firefights based on accounts from real Marines, use maps recreated meticulously from satellite imagery and first-hand reports, program squadmates and enemies with realistic AI based on the actual tactics displayed by both sides during the battle, present a fully destructible environment that required the creation of a new game engine.
Those are big promises and unfortunately I don’t think Atomic is delivering on any of the technical or gameplay bullet points. The biggest turn off for me was seeing a regenerating health model employed after listening to a ten-minute introduction about how this will be the most realistic modern urban warfare game ever created. I emphasize “urban” there because I’ve played Armed Assault, the current leader in military simulation from the makers of Operation Flashpoint (Video). Take this quote from Tamte:
"Ultimately, all of us are curious about what it would really be like to be in a war. I've been playing military shooters for ages, and at a certain point when I'm playing the game, I know it's fake. You can tell a bunch of guys sat in a room and designed it. That's always bothered me."
Adding regenerating health is a sure-fire way to ruin the immersion and realism that Atomic Games is going for. Now, there’s a chance that the health regeneration or God mode was turned on for the demonstration and will not be in the final game, but this was not clarified during the presentation.
Atomic also felt that no current game engine would suffice to convey the destructive nature of modern combat. Not even Battlefield: Bad Company’s Frostbite engine would suffice. With that, the company created its own game engine that allows for 100% destruction. Just don’t expect it to look as good as games that run on Unreal Engine 3.0 or Call of Duty 4’s engine. I don’t actually have a problem with the graphics as long as the game delivers on gameplay. I’m worried, however, how the title will be received by gamers at large when they see the game in action. The sound, however, was spot-on.
The demo didn’t feature anything that I didn’t think could be done by another game’s engine. Columns will shatter when hit with fire like in Gears of War 2. Cover can be blown away, buildings can be destroyed, and holes can be punched into walls like Battlefield: Bad Company. I also noticed that enemies hiding behind cover that was chipped away would not seek new cover. They would remain crouched as if the cover was still protecting them. Very sloppy.
Thankfully, this game is slated for release in 2010 and Atomic Games has plenty of time to tighten their engine and polish the gameplay. Their hearts and minds are definitely in the right place and this could be an extremely powerful game if done correctly. I just hope the actual game part of Six Days in Fallujah hits the bar set by the promises made by Tamte and does justice to the Marines that fought in the battle.