by Andrew Hallam
reviewed on PC
Eve Of Destruction
I have been a fan of 1C and Best Way's 'of War' series since Soldiers: Heroes of World War II; when Best Way revolutionised the rather stagnant World War II RTS genre. Since then, Best Way have adopted the design philosophy of “If it's not broken, don't fix it”. Simply improving on their formula has worked out well for them with the subsequent Faces of War and the more recent Men of War games continuing to gain fans and be favoured amongst gamers looking for a more realistic tactical RTS experience than that of Company of Heroes or Red Alert.
While revolutionising a market the first time round can be one of the greatest things for a series, it is sometimes best to stick to what you know. In the latest instalment to the MoW series we see 1C ditch the World War II era in favour of the Vietnam conflict - an era rarely done justice in video games and only recently touched upon by games such as Black Ops and the multiplayer only expansion for Bad Company 2. Vietnam was a strange war, one unlike any the US had faced before. Rather than engaging in the mass assaults across huge battlefields as the US were accustom to, the North Vietnamese effectively employed guerilla tactics and sneak attacks from small squads, often using civilians to aid them; a rare thing in the previous wars America had faced. Unfortunately, while this can be conveyed to a moderate degree in games like Black Ops it simply does not translate well into an RTS format.
Bumble In The Jungle
Men of War: Vietnam is one of those games you really want to be good, but it seems that there is a problem with trying to make one of the strangest wars of recent history compatible with the series. It may have been best to leave the Vietnam War well alone. Vietnam takes the original MoW formula and strips what made the previous instalments fun - mass combat on a grand scale. It then replaces this with a singleplayer and co-operative multiplayer only element which, for the most part, just does not work. In past MoW games there has been the odd stealth mission where you are given a small team, usually just a squad of four to eight men, and are pitted against ridiculous odds. While these missions were a rarity they were done well, usually making sure that your objectives were interesting and varied. Most importantly, the objectives usually had you causing huge explosions resulting in exciting races to extraction points or the arrival of a massed friendly force to combat the remaining enemy. These missions were ultimately just fun and rewarding to play.
Vietnam's missions however, are not. As a veteran of every game in the 'of War' series you can expect that I know my way around the block but even for me, on the easiest difficulty, these missions are just insanely hard. Whereas the seemingly impossible challenges in previous instalments usually had me laughing at my eventual victory, the only laughter this time around is coming from the enemy AI. Your efforts to guide your small squad around the various missions are always in vain as you watch them get picked off by hundreds of eagle eyed marksmen. The singleplayer experience comprises of both a North Vietnamese and US campaign but both are equally as impossible as the other.
Voice acting improved, nice environments in level design
Missions too hard, stealth broken, no competitive multiplayer, no skirmish mode