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  • Vietcong

    “OK listen up you slimy-worthless, worm-ridden piece of filth! If you want to survive in that gook infested jungle you’re gonna have to prove to me that you are worthy. Looking at you right now, I would be embarrassed to send you out near Charlie’s presence. You are a joke. Right now I should get our friend VC to come over here on a luxury, all-expenses paid boat trip and give you sorry sons-of-bitches an ass whooping just to teach you a lesson in how to be a fighter. You make me wanna puke!”

    You have to start the game by entering boot camp. Boot camp basically consists of getting you used to how the game works. Personally I love these training missions and think they should be included in all games of this genre. Along with the training is your drill instructor. He shouts at you with all kinds of insults (*warning - expletives abound here so not a game for the young ones – these also carry through to the game as well*). He did have me in stitches at points with his ‘colourful’ language. Brings back memories of Full Metal Jacket and really gives it that Vietnam flavour.

    You start the game being flown to your new base via Huey. In the cabin is Hornster, a machine gunner who fills you in on a few things about recent activity. Below you the country side zips by and then you reach the base. The chopper circles the area and gives you a great view of the base. Machine gun posts are manned, patrols walk along trenches, a few guys stand around chatting, a bird flies off in the distance - you can almost smell the napalm in the air.

    The Game
    When you touch down you are ordered to meet up with the Captain. Before doing so however you can visit the shooting range (just follow Hornster) and let off a few shots or wander the base a little to get your bearings. There are a few characters hanging around the area to talk with too.

    The first mission is a short introduction and a lesson in how not to play the game. Listen to the captain and the medic for advice on what to do. I’ll say no more than that.

    The second mission is where it really starts. Ever imagined yourself in the Vietnam jungle on one of those long patrols looking for VC weapon caches and avoiding a variety of booby traps? Well the second mission gives you all that and more. First thing that hits you is the amount of foliage around – it really looks like a jungle environment. It’s all pretty enclosed to begin with following a narrow canyon but it’s not too long before it starts to open up into bigger and bigger areas.

    Look & Feel
    The graphics are pretty impressive, though dated now, but they have something about them that just adds to the whole atmosphere. When you walk through a bush, leaves fall off it for instance. Frogs hop along the bank of a stream and bright blue butterflies occasionally flutter up towards the canopy.

    The sounds are all there too. Running water that sploshes as you walk through it, boots that make that sucking sound when you step out of water up to your waste or higher (Basic training anyone?), jungle sounds that shriek at you or quietly hum in the background. It’s all their and more. The music that accompanies the game fits right in there with Hendrix, etc and your team-mates yell out colourful insults at Charlie when they see them.

    The whole game has real feeling and immersion and also has some excellent features. Firstly the pace at which you move, either running or walking, depends upon what terrain you’re walking over and what you have in your hands. Then you are able to lay prone, crouch or stand upright. When crouching or prone there is a nifty feature. In your key setting you have an aim button. Press this down (either set to toggle or hold – though see ‘niggles’ later on) and you raise your weapon up to look through the iron sights. However, when crouched or prone it also raises your body stance, allowing you to see over objects you are hiding behind. This allows you to run up behind a log and hide behind it for cover, then pop over the top of it to let off a few bursts before ducking back down again. Use this feature as the VC use it as well.

    Enemy AI consists of flanking and retreating manoeuvres. They’ll seek cover and pop out from it for a few seconds, fire at you and then duck back. Sometimes they’ll miss you completely and suddenly your face to face with these guys, right in the thick of it. Don’t think – react and go charging at them, it works pretty well.

    Other times you need to take it slow. To help you with spotting the VC you have a pair of bins. They leave you feeling a little claustrophobic when looking through them but can be valuable in spotting Charlie’s head poking up from behind that rock down the path.

    With you on your patrols are various characters. You have different classes with different roles. Your point man will spot VC and traps (but not all the time), your medic can heal you and your radio man can call in air strikes. In all there are 6 classes (characters) in total, you being on of them. You have a limited ability to command them and it’s great watching them make their way through the jungle – and here is another cool feature.

    As you make you way through the jungle you’ll encounter obstacles. You’ll notice that as you go over them you seem to be performing a manoeuvre. Watch you buddies and you’ll see just what it is you are doing. They will side step, roll over them or put down their hand and vault to the other side. Again this just adds to the immersion of the game. They also talk to you and when they do their mouths move and they pull facial expressions. When you engage the enemy, they'll hurl abuse at them as well as hot lead. When the engagement is over they'll check the bodies by poking them or putting a shot in them - more immersion. Oh and they'll take ammo as well.

    There are a variety of weapons to be used from rifles and machine guns down to air strikes and booby traps. Each weapon has been modelled realistically in recoil, load times, etc and you can pick up weapons off fallen foes.

    Here you have your typical MP game types and a few new ones. There is also a coop mode to play on some maps which we have tried here at Tactical Gamer. This was great fun. Whilst not really mission orientated it still gave us a run for our money. Objectives seem to be a tango hunt (for which each insert appears to place the enemy randomly), take the base and hold the base. The maps are great to play this on and you can choose what class you wish to be from. You can lay booby traps, call air strikes and heal the wounded. I have a feeling that a TvT game would really rock and would dearly love to get one of you with a trip grenade booby trap.

    Going back to the toggle keys is where this game has really let me down though other people don't have the problem whilst others do. Run/walk, crouch/stand are toggle enabled. When you press the button you will crouch until you press the button again and you will stand. Same for run/walk. Aim/don't aim can be set for either hold down or toggle. Now for some reason when I play the game seem to randomly set these to how it wants, giving me no warning. One minute I can toggle the lot, the next I'm battling with the keyboard to hold down all three buttons (the default are stand, run and no aim) whilst trying to strafe, lean and shoot - all at the critical moment. This is highly frustrating and takes you straight out of the immersion zone and into the 'i'm pissed at this game' zone.

    Hopefully you won't be subjected to this and whilst I admit it is bad, it isn't all the time and doesn't ruin the game.

    Last Impressions
    This game is good there is no doubt about that. You will need the patches though. There also seems to be a good following on the public servers and new maps, mods and character skins to download. The single player aspect is great, a story that has cut scenes and cool features. If you are looking for a Vietnam sim then grab this. You should now find it in the bargain bin as it’s about 8 months old but it’s definitely worth it. There is also an expansion – First Alpha, or you can pick both the original and the expansion in the ‘Purple Haze’ pack. There is so much to this game that it is hard to write a review to encompass everything. I’m not even half way through it and you already have this much – what more do you want?

    “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”

    Supported Operating Systems: Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition, Windows Millennium, Windows 2000 (Workstation), Windows XP (Home and Professional)

    Minimum Hardware Requirements:
    * 700 MHz Pentium 3 or 4 or AMD Athlon processor
    * 256 MB of RAM
    * 16x CD drive / 1.8 GB of free hard disk space
    * 32 MB video card DirectX 8.1 compatible
    * DirectX 8.1 compatible sound card, keyboard, and mouse
    * Modem 56.6 kps or higher for Internet play

    Recommended Hardware Requirements:
    * 1 GHz Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon processor
    * 256+ MB of RAM
    * 32x CD ROM drive / 1.8 GB of free hard disk space
    * 64 MB video card DirectX 8.1 compatible
    * DirectX 8.1 compatible sound card, keyboard, and mouse
    * ISDN/Broadband or higher for Internet play



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