Army Men: Sarge's War Xbox
by Global Star Software
Released - Out Now
Price : £19.99
It's been a heck of a long time since we reviewed an Army Men title and with the demise of 3DO it looked like we would never review one again. Thanks to Global Star Software though the series will continue which makes sense as the series has a lot of followers. It's rather a shame then that the series has always been known for mediocre titles at best and all the games we've seen to date have all been less than memorable. This time around, the series moves on to the Xbox and looks better than the PlayStation games that we had seen previously. Can the game play improve though?
If you've played an Army Men game then you'll know the drill. Essentially you fight for the Green Army and your nemesis is the evil Tan Army. The game begins with what looks to be a new era for both Greentown and the Tan as it looks as if the war is finally going to end and make way for peace between the longstanding rivals. However there is a renegade army, from the Tan nation, that appears on the scene and they are determined to finish off the Green nation for good. There's only one chance of avoiding disaster and that's by Sarge and his men defeating this renegade bunch.
Like the previous Army Men titles Sarge's War is a third-person action game. You'll control the all guns blazing Sarge who's the green plastic equivalent of Rambo (essentially a one man army). Sarge has access to a nice range of weapons throughout the game such as the bazooka, flamethrower, shotgun, carbine and sniper rifle. You'll also have various explosives that can be used to wipe out those troublesome renegades. All things considered this has the potential to be a fairly enjoyable action game but it just doesn't feel like it's evolved from the previous Army Men games in that the game play is very basic. The controls are OK (the auto-aim doesn't seem that helpful most of the time though) but I would have liked the primary fire button as the right trigger rather than the A button.
I would have also preferred a different save system to the one found in the game. Your progress can only be saved after completing a mission. There are various checkpoints that, should Sarge be killed you will return to, so you won't have to start from scratch but I would have rather had a mid-mission save point. There are 3 difficulty settings, easy, normal and expert which should enable the game to suit most players. There is even a multiplayer mode for 2-4 players which offers three modes, death match, team advance and capture the flag. However there are only 4 maps so this will get cumbersome very quickly. Had a Xbox Live mode been included, which allowed for more players to participate in these games, then the game might have had more long-term appeal.
Graphically it's the best looking Army Men game to date but sadly this isn't saying a lot as the previous games were on the PlayStation (PSone) console. Rather than taking advantage of the powerful hardware that the Xbox has the game looks like a quick port from a lesser machine. The textures are bland, detail is lacking and the frame rate is inconsistent which is disappointing to say the least. Character animations are rather basic and they have a rather wooden (or should that be plastic) feel about them.
On loading the game for the first time I checked the options menu to see if subtitles could be enabled and I was pleased to find that there was indeed a subtitles option. However the game isn't fully subtitled (it's actually becoming quite common for a subtitles option to mean only partial subtitles, which isn't very good to be honest). The games cutscenes aren't subtitled, which means deaf gamers will miss out on what story there is. The tutorials (known collectively as the Bootcamp) are delivered exclusively via text which is absolutely fine. During missions you'll receive orders and these too are shown in text. You can also recall objectives from the pause menu. There is also some verbal content during missions that isn't subtitled but essentially, as you can see what the objectives are, this isn't too much of a problem.
As we said at the top of the review it's been a while since we last reviewed an Army Men title but despite the absence little has changed. Whether this is good news or not depends on what you thought of the previous games. To a lot of people, including us, they were mediocre third-person action titles that were OK for a while but soon became repetitive. The same can be said for Sarge's War. Yes it's on a more powerful platform this time around but it makes little difference and the game doesn't take advantage of the Xbox at all. If you liked the previous Army Men games then at the budget price of £19.99 you'll probably be happy with Sarge's War but if you didn't like the previous titles there's nothing here, or nothing of note about the game, that will appeal.
Game Rating: 5.0/10
New publisher, new platform but the game play is exactly the same as it was before and it will probably only appeal to fans of the previous Army Men games.
Not fully subtitled but shouldn't cause too much of a problem.