Task Force Delta – Afghanistan Review (PS5) – Desert Scorn
You, a solitary soldier, have been dropped into an enemy filled area. Your task: Find some C4, place it on a radio tower and exfiltrate, killing at least 100 terrorists along the way, shrugging off bullet wounds like they were nothing. No, this isn’t the plot to the latest straight-to-DVD action movie starring Steven Seagal. It’s one of the 5 structured levels encompassed within ‘Task Force Delta – Afghanistan’, a first person shooter from one man developer Polygon Art. After initially launching on the Nintendo Switch in 2021, the military shooter has now trudged its way onto PlayStation 5.
A real shooter for real men, grrr
Task Force Delta – Afghanistan attempts to position itself as a realistic military shooter. The store description is suitably ‘hoo-rah’, featuring lines like “strive for vengeance for terrorist attacks against the United States” and “engage in rough terrain against countless enemies with the sole target to eliminate leading terrorists in Afghanistan”. The main menu opens on an image of a camouflage-clad soldier in front of an explosion. Weaponry found throughout the game are digital representations of real world guns, from AK47’s to the M16, without ever referencing them by name.
The general vibe of Task Force Delta – Afghanistan feels incredibly dated. It’s reminiscent of those mid-gen PS3 games that glorified war and the ‘hunt for terrorists’, like Rogue Warrior, Enemy Front and Heavy Fire: Afghanistan. Military shooters have progressed so much since then, at least from a narrative perspective, by painting conflict as two sided. In comparison, this game feels like an absolute relic. You won’t find many games painting you as an opposing force to a faceless ‘terrorist’ organisation in 2023, so Task Force Delta feels massively out of touch and little more than war porn.
That isn’t helped by the actual content of the game. The main pillar of Task Force Delta – Afghanistan is made up of 5 single player missions. Each has their own multi-step objectives but every step boils down to 1 of 3 possible actions. A). Go here and kill anything in your way. B). Collect this and kill anything in your way. C). Stand here for a few minutes and kill anything that comes your way. The game attempts to dress these objectives up as real military exercises but they lack the tactical depth that would make this possible. You’re not shown a map of the area first, there’s no plan b exfil site, there’s no background on the terrorists you’re there to kill or their forces. You simply start each level with a voice over giving you some instructions. You then follow some HUD locations to go too when you press the centre button on the Dualsense controller.
Bringing up those locations on your screen isn’t explained to you, by the way. There’s no tutorial here. You’ve got to learn everything on the fly. Some button prompts show on screen to indicate you can pick up a weapon, but if you want to crouch or turn on your torch, you’ll be randomly pressing buttons until you figure it all out. The fact that the game didn’t tell me I could highlight the objectives before throwing me into the deep end meant I spent half an hour looking for the exfil location on the first mission before I randomly walked into it. Learn from my frustration – press the touch pad to bring up your objective markers.
Lions for Lambs
Not that a tutorial is strictly necessary for Task Force Delta – Afghanistan. If you’ve played a first person shooter in the past 20 years, you’ll be able to pick up all the basics instantly. The game adopts many of the genre staples and controls – L2 is to aim down sights, R2 is to fire your weapon, etc. The only deviance from the standard control format is a complete lack of melee attack. If an enemy gets up close and personal, there’s no CQC option here. You’ve just got to shoot back.
The other and more prominent reason that a tutorial isn’t necessary for Task Force Delta – Afghanistan is because the AI is among some of the dumbest I’ve ever come across in a FPS. The ‘terrorist’ enemies in this game – all of which look identical, by the way – wander back and forth along patrol routes in a robotic fashion. When they’re standing still, they’re eerily still.
It’s when you engage them do you really see how stupid these enemies are. Shoot them from a long way away and they won’t even react. They’ll just stand still and die. If they come across the body of a fallen team mate, they don’t react. They’ll just walk past them as if their dead comrade isn’t even there.
It doesn’t get any better when they do attack. There’s a complete lack of tactical awareness, with them homing in on you and firing without taking cover. Draw them around a corner or up some stairs and you can simply mow them down as they come into view like a dumb-ass conga line walking into fire. In a few of the missions, you’ll be tasked with surviving an attack by the terrorists. If you stand in a place where the soldiers can’t reach you, they’ll just walk into a wall and fail to even fire a shot at you.
John Wick – Afghanistan
At times, the enemies will even be too preoccupied with following their patrol pathway rather than engaging with you. You can shoot them in the back and they’ll fight back for a second before walking off into the sunset. The only way you’ll ever feel any pressure while playing this game is when enemies spawn in numbers out of thin air around you. This happens occasionally.
As you might imagine, the brain dead AI mean that there’s a lack of challenge to Task Force Delta – Afghanistan. That’s not helped by the imbalance of the game’s health system. The terrorist foes will be dropped with 1 to 3 shots from any of the weapons. Your player character is essentially The Terminator in comparison. They start with 100 health points which will reduce by 1 ever time they’re shot. That means your soldier can be shot 100 times before they fall. Even if you’ve managed to take that kind of damage, medi kits that are dropped at random by vanquished terrorists refill health back to 100. It’s almost impossible to die in the game unless you just walk out into oncoming fire and just stand there.
The miserable AI and the imbalance with the health system completely undermines the other game mode in Task Force Delta – Afghanistan. This mode is a riff on horde modes like Call of Duty Zombies with waves of enemies that hone in on you. Like the single player missions, you can simply post up in one secure location and gun down anyone that approaches. If the AI was a little more inventive, this mode might have had some longevity to it. Instead, you’ll likely get bored of it long before you die for the first time.
Foxtrot, Uniform, Charlie, Delta
To give Task Force Delta – Afghanistan the small shred of credit it’s due, the game looks quite pretty at times. At least when you’re standing still. Among the texture-less buildings and randomly entirely rusty vehicles are some pretty vistas to take in. The Afghani mountains make a lovely backdrop to a game when you’re allowed to take it in without being shot at.
When you start a level, it takes a while for all of this to come together. There’s a massive amount of pop in from textures and foliage at the start of each mission, all of which happens before you eyes. The draw distance isn’t particularly impressive during missions either. You’ll see jagged shadows change as you move through the levels which can jarring.
All in all, Task Force Delta Afghanistan is a massive disappointment. The game lacks any narrative depth, instead pitting you against villainised brown skinned characters without purpose. Rough AI, some ropey visuals and a lack of challenge mean that it’s amongst the worst first person shooters on the PS5.
Small pockets of appealing visuals can’t paper over the vast number of issues with Task Force Delta – Afghanistan. A tasteless and out-of-touch set-up, incredibly poor AI and an unbalanced health system result in a rough and decidedly sub-par first person shooter.
Task Force Delta – Afghanistan is available now on PS5 (review version), PS4 and Nintendo Switch.
Developer: Polygon Art
Publisher: Polygon Art
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we purchased a copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.
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