Men of War: Vietnam is a new game in the critically acclaimed series. Two new, story-driven campaigns let you taste the explosive mix of the jungle, Hueys and rock-n-roll in early 1968.
The US campaign focuses on a team of elite special ops soldiers, and each one of them has a personality. The unit includes Sergeant John Merrill, machinegunner Jim Walsh, sniper Sonny Armstrong, grenade launcher operator Carl Dillan and combat engineer Bill Kirby. In some missions they can count only on themselves, while in the others they act together with regular US and South-Vietnamese troops.
The North Vietnam campaign tells the story of two Soviet military consultants and two soldiers of the North Vietnam Army who are the only survivors of an ambush prepared by the US troops. The task of getting back to the North Vietnam territory is a difficult one – they have no means of radio communication, no wheeled vehicles, and it’s too far to make it there on foot. On their way these survivors get involved in a chain of bloodbath engagements and find themselves in the dead center of the well-known Tet offensive.
These next two sentences will boggle your mind… Men of War: Vietnam has only two campaigns (US/Russian) and within each campaign there are just 5 missions to complete. This game takes a really really long time to successfully finish even on the EASY MODE! It’s true to warfare in that it is brutal at every turn and is not forgiving. Your men will die quickly and often if you’re not careful – not just from incoming fire but also those pesky traps throughout the jungle. This is not the world of Rambo, run and gun will get you killed ASAP; as with most Men of War titles you’ll really need to employ some REAL strategy to your troop movements and equip them for the job.
Controlling your troops is a chore in of itself: you need to be aware of their current inventory (weapons, ammo, grenades, helmets, bandages etc.), heath, stance (standing, crouched, prone), and behaviours when it comes to firing and moving – to prevent ‘bad situations’ from happening all the time it’s a good idea to set their fire mode to ‘return fire only’ and movement to ‘hold’. Cover is the main draw to this game and it’s very well done as there was never a time where I wasn’t allowed to move a player to a particular item for cover.
Using almost entirely guerilla warfare tactics rather than straight on engagements worked best for my squad – although all the kills seemed to go to silenced weapons or my sniper rather than MG/SMG units. Could just be my natural tendency to go “stalking” that leads to one or two men being under my constant control while the rest sit pretty at basecamp.
Silenced Snipers rule the battlefield
The AI is also a bit dim at times and brilliant at others, sometimes they’ll just completely ignore the fact that their friend no less than 20 feet away dropped dead in his tracks, other times they’ll start to panic the second someone 100 feet away is shot and come running directly at you -- Doesn’t quite make sense…
If the enemy was a bit smarter then I believe the amount of thought placed into each move would skyrocket – which is a good thing – as you would no longer be able to move entire platoons next to an enemy MG position by using the bush 2 feet to their left; how they don’t notice the ‘jungle love’ rustling that the plants make really has me wondering if it was necessary to exaggerate the animations to such an extreme?
Oh, he's just sleeping Jim, don't worry about it.
There are some classic moments from this game – both for good and bad reasons – such as using silenced AK’s to infiltrate a base and position my men around the helicopter field, switch over to some RPG’s and destroy the entire strip! Only then to have one of my men attempt to throw a grenade at the panicking pilots which oddly went nowhere…thus blowing up half the squad and ruining any chances at a clean get-away. ‘Load > Autosave’ yet again, re-position and this time CORRECTLY throw the damn grenade through the bushes. That would be the games saving grace, allowing you to save at any point you wish – I cannot stress the importance of saving as often as you can.
The cinematics between missions are short, informative, and set the stage well for everything you’ll encounter in the hours to come. It would have been nice to have a higher quality voice acting mid-mission though (both scripted and random events) as it takes away from the setting with accents not quite matching – think Deus Ex the original! For this reason I did find the Russian advisor campaign somewhat painful to move through, but the American campaign flowed much better since the voice acting was more natural and less forced.
Strategy fans looking for a challenge will love the scenarios presented in Men of War: Vietnam but may be thrown off by the poorly laid out controls, buggy AI, sometimes frustrating deaths and invisible walls.