Welcome to the Jungle: A Men of War: Vietnam Review
Ever felt like you need a break from all the World War 2 conflict? Travel somewhere warm, meet interesting people and kill them? Hide in the mud while a passing American convoy rides into your trap and you personaly pull the trigger and all the tanks and trucks go ablaze? Welcome to Men of War: Vietnam. Now, you might had played Men of War or Men of War: Assault Squad and thought “Oh hey, a game where I get to make large scale Vietnam warfare? Sweet.”. Unfortunately, Men of War: Vietnam is not about large scale battles, where one side outclasses the other with super heavy tanks, artillery that creates moon sized craters, and spamming cheap infantry so that you can cap the victory point with sheer weight of numbers.
Men of War: Vietnam is about “Spec Ops”. You end up in control of a small group of quality soldiers and are tasked with different objectives which often progress over time in one way or another (depending on whether you succeed or fail in your secondary objectives). This dynamic approach to missions really weights down on your tactical knowledge, and you will have to plan carefuly your every move in order to achieve the best possible result, while suffering no casualities. Although you could argue this is turning a game which was original an RTS into a “Commandos” style game MoW:V is broader than that. First of all you have a high level of control and micromanagment over your squad and individual soldiers. You can essentialy pickup any weapon the enemy drops and use it yourself. Gathering additional ammo from supply dumps, vehicles and other dead soldiers. Even when you lose your hat (or helmet) you can go back to pick it up, or take another one. The option of taking direct control of your soldiers allows you to move them wherever you like, aim and shoot where you want them to and much, much more. The same applies to vehicles (which were popular in MoW) and you can control a vehicle yourself when you want to.
The big “kink” about MoW:V for myself was the co-op. Following the tradition of the magical number four you and three of your compadres can join up online or via Lan to complete any mission from the North Vietnamese or US Campaigns. A lot of the missions call for cooperation with more people than just yourself. Be it sneaking into a base to complete a few objectives, organising an ambush for an incoming convoy, attacking a heavily fortified enemy position or defending yourself from an attack. Although you do not always have the choice of controlling sizeable forces (more often than note having just a handful of men to each player) the focus of each player on a specific task or role makes gameplay much easier.
One such example is the very first NV mission where, as one of the secondary objectives you have to stop three Hueys from getting up into the air. You have the option of killing the pilots but you might as well grab three RPGs (with a lot of missiles) from a stockpile you liberated earlier and destroy the helicopters. The pilots are however very twitchy and the moment you kill one of them, the rest will run to the choppers. You can imagine how much easier this part of the mission is if three players (with their individual soldiers) take up positions and fire off their RPGs at the parked choppers.
MoW:V calls for knowledge of the game. If you did not play any of the other MoW titles and decide to give MoW:V a go you might be stuck on the first mission without hopes of going further. The game is hard, in the sense that you rarely have the option of openly engaging the enemy (unless the game blatantly suggests that’s the best course of action) and thus be forced to take alternative long routes, checking the quality of cover, noting where are the greatest numbers and concentrations of enemy troops, etc. etc. You have to know the game mechanics through and through, and have some knowledge of how to lead an effective fire fight. Using the camera, quick squad and individual unit commands, what does every single button do, how do the different weapons work. Despite this brutal treatment in terms of gameplay difficulty you can turn off the fog of war at will, ask for hints and other adjustments also make life easier and let you ease into the game. There are autosaves after you achieve an objective or a checkpoint, so if something did not go as planned you can even go back a few steps and go at it again.
The game runs smoothly, much more smoothly in fact than MoW. The graphics are of good quality, and not at all demanding. Weaker computers and laptops will be able to run this game. The combat is fun, especially on such a smaller scale, where flanking, grenades and heavier explosives play an important role in achieving victory.With the undemanding graphics you will be able to face numerous explosions and even an impressive firefight without suffering a high penalty on your hardware. You might on occasion lose your own men in the undergrowth or the enemy forces. Fortunately you have the option of highlighting your own men, and the bodies of friend and foe alike.
The story, overall is interesting, especially for the North Vietnamese campaign. You follow the path of a group of survivors whose company was devastated by a Huey attack and who then try to get back to their side of the border. The US Campaign is in essence a number of different missions stuck onto a single group of people. You will often be sent behind enemy lines to infiltrate and sabotage the NV forces, then extracted and sent in somewhere else. In either case, however, it is hard for me to feel any sympathy for the characters as they seem “generic” and “plain”. Even with the different voices and acts, it just feels like an addition, rather than an important part of the game. They might use different weapons, and their models might look a tiny bit different but these factors did not sell the characters for me. This is also because there is no penalty for losing any of the characters during a mission. They will all be back on the next one.
Some of the sounds are old, used in the previous MoW games, however the new gun sounds and the vietnamese voices, as well as briefings for the missions are very well done. The music is fine. Though I expected some music from the era the one provided is energetic and compelling enough to be immersed in the action of the game.
I am not a great fan of stealth operations, even when I do understand the concepts and ideas. If you do find long planning, masterful sneaking and excellent execution of a well timed plan to your liking this is a game for you. If you are interested in a broader choice of maps and a chance at fighting against your friends (or foes) consider the Special Edition on Steam, which adds such a possibility ontop of a few additional maps and missions. If this is your first contact with the MoW series this game will not be at all a dissapointment, on the contrary. Although it is hard there is plenty of room to experiment during the missions and you can get to quickly discover the ropes behind the game. The wide choice of Co-op missions will allow you to shuffle around what you hunger for at that point in time. Be it “special operations”, or slightly bigger participation in all out attacks (Tet Offensive).
Alex “WriterX” Bielski
|Pros:||Welcome to the Jungle!
Like Men of War (duh)
|Cons:||A bit too challenging
Not for everybody
Can be confusing at times
|Game producer's website:||1C Company|
|Official website:||Men of War: Vietnam|
|Game available at:|