Conflict: Vietnam Review
By Corey Stoneburner |
What is going on with Vietnam? It's the war of the year for videogames and apparently the statue of limitations has expired for people feeling weird about playing a historical war that's not too far in the past. Vietcong: Purple Haze, Shellshock: Nam '67, and now Conflict: Vietnam have hit the shelves. The appeal of having a gritty war experience with foul language and some kick-ass music has proven too appealing because we're in the thick of it once again. Well, that's the bad, or at least weird, news and the good news is that Conflict: Vietnam is the best of the bunch so far with Men of Valor possibly upping the ante even more.
To get players into the crappy situation right away the storyline starts with a new recruit joining three other soldiers in a squad to do a tour in the jungle. Throughout the camp there are soldiers talking about past fights, fallen soldiers, and conspiracy theories fueled with some religious imagery. It's a big mess and after some quick training with a couple of soldiers it's already time to run out and get some action.
Out in the jungle the game picks up the pace and runs with it, providing the feeling of sitting in a steamy jungle with possible threats at every turn. There are booby traps, snipers, plenty of Vietcong, and a whole lot of foliage to get in the way and make the problems go from horrible to really, really bad and worse. With some story elements and some scripting there are a few cool events that happen along the way, but the primary journey here is along a long and twisted path as these unlucky grunts have to go it alone as the whole world goes to hell around them.
To make control of these four soldiers that much easier the F1 to F4 buttons are used to quickly select the different men. The soldiers have their own skills in terms of disarming traps, sniping, healing, and whatnot so managing each situation is often a matter of finding the right man for the job and selecting him for it. While not being directly controlled, the other soldiers can be easily given some basic commands to follow, stay put, hold fire or fire at will. Their own skills, which can be upgraded at the end of each level, will help to determine just how well they handle themselves on their own. For example, Junior could be counted on to drop Vietcong with a single rifle shot once he's boosted his sniper rifle points to a respectable level.
So with these basic controls the game works like a dream, absolutely no problems whatsoever, but with the other finer points about giving commands and coordinating efforts the control scheme starts out awkward and never gets much better. Giving a command to another soldier to run to a specific area or to assist with a squadmate requires a complex set of button pushes that never quite feels right. With a variety of commands to punch in it's easier to just run and gun and skip the minor details. This madness pops up with the regular inventory and passing items from one person to another.
Another problem happens when trying to heal the same person or a squadmate. When a soldier's health goes down to zero their health bar goes red and they can be revived with a field dressing (as in gauze and tape, not a way to liven up arugula). Obviously it would be even better to heal people before they even get that far. This then leads to more struggles with the inventory system of selecting the healthpack from the inventory then going back to the game and pulling the trigger to use on one's self or going to another to help them out. After that it's a matter of going back to inventory and selecting the gun to get back in the fight. It's like trying to fight through red tape while in the middle of a battle and it just makes the situations even more confusing than it should be.