Men of War: Vietnam Review
This game was reviewed on the PC.
Get ready to get your hands dirty with the latest instalment of the Men of War franchise! In Men of War: Vietnam, players fight through tropical jungles of one of the longest military conflicts from the 1950’s though to the mid 70’s. It’s a real-time tactical game, based on the period when the world was in constant battle for superiority between Communism and Democracy. This is a pleasant change of pace among the slew of games that are usually based on WWII or modern day conflicts in the Middle East.
There are two campaigns, totalling ten missions, split between the North Vietnamese and US, all of which can be played on co-op with up to four players. The story plays a secondary role only to string along missions together, rather than providing a compelling story arc. These missions differ amongst each other, ranging from infiltration (where you sneak your squad into an enemy base for reconnaissance) to holding the line while fending off waves of enemies. These objectives are explained through cut scenes introducing the map and enemies that you will encounter. The maps have immense scale for navigation, and the sheer size allows for multiple paths of accomplishing each objective. Sometimes the overall map will expand after completing goals, revealing more of the surroundings, rather than overwhelming the player with too much information unrelated to the mission’s first objective.
Regardless of how fun the game might seem, new players (and even some veterans) will be thrown off by the high difficulty. The game has little explanation on what the controls are and essentially expects the player to know how to play right off the bat. Even on easy difficulty I barely managed to complete each mission. This is due in part to the enemy AI’s cunning awareness of their surroundings, and partly owing to the fact that you are always in command of a small force attacking a numerically superior enemy in their own territory. This usually leads to your unit being open to attacks if not by wandering troops then certainly by the sniper hiding nearby.
The performance of the player’s unit doesn’t stack up to your enemies’ exceptional sharpshooting skills. Oftentimes, your unit will try to execute your plans, only to fail for no apparent reason. It can get incredibly frustrating when your units miss an easy shot and alert the foes, or blunder into an easily avoidable patrol. Those types of errors make it difficult to work up the patience for a re-attempt at a mission. Yet, there are the rare occasions that your unit’s AI will surprise you, giving you a spurt of adrenaline that will help you keep playing. For example: at one point I had only one soldier left nearing the completion of a level, with the enemy force drawing closer. Without my intervention and only a pistol at hand, he quickly eliminated almost every single opponent until a sniper ended his victory. These sudden actions spark excitement as if you had just witnessed an action movie, making it easier to continue the game. However, if you feel that your soldiers aren’t competent to complete a sensitive task, there is an option to directly control on the fly during the session. This allows you to aim with the mouse, lending a more accurate shot, and the keyboard controls for the soldiers’ movements and stance. This manual control is especially helpful when guiding a tank when it drives through destructible cover or speed boats crashing into river banks.
The audio design is well done, beautifully portraying the wildlife, gunfire and other audio cues of warfare. When paired with the exceptional music score of 60’s rock, it adds to the authenticity of the time period and locale it portrays. However, this is drawn back by the poor voice acting. The American voiceovers were decent, but the Vietnamese and Russian voices were particularly difficult to sit through, as they lacked authenticity.
Men of War: Vietnam is one of the more challenging games to come out this year. It’s really hard to recommend this game to new players, as the overwhelming control scheme and the difficulty might push them away. However, if you are willing to learn and patient enough to sit through the trial and error it definitely is worth playing. For hardcore fans of the series seeking a challenge, this is the game for you. Bump up to the hardest difficulty and Men of War: Vietnam will surely strike the perfect chord for tactical enthusiasts. This game receives a 3.75 / 5.0
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