Vietcong: Purple Haze Xbox
Developed by Coyote
Release Date: Out Now
Price : £39.99
Vietcong: Purple Haze isn't the console version of the original Vietcong that arrived on PC a few years ago or indeed the expansion pack. Instead it's a combination of the two with missions taken from both the original Vietcong and First Alpha expansion. Two new missions, exclusive to the console versions have also been added to bring the total number of missions in the game to 19. Of course in theory combining the original game and expansion pack could be a cracking idea if the best of both had been included. Whilst some of the less desirable missions have been cut, what remains doesn't feel as good or as challenging as it did on the PC versions.
Purple Haze gives you a choice of Single Player action, Quick Fight and Xbox Live play. The Single Player option offers Campaign and Single Mission play along with a Tutorial. You'll probably want to begin with the tutorial in order to get comfortable with the games' controls. However as with the original Vietcong on the PC be warned because the language in the tutorial is obscene and totally inappropriate for a game (if appropriate for the environment in which the game is set). The Campaign offers two difficulty modes, Normal and Vietnam, and as mentioned it offers 19 missions which may sound a lot but they shouldn't take too long to complete. Each mission will require you to pick from a choice of weapons that you prefer. On the whole the Campaign is OK but it offers no missions that live long in the memory. Quick Fight is exactly that and you'll be able to play on maps that you've unlocked in the campaign. Xbox Live play offers Capture the Flag, Deathmatch/Team Deathmatch, Real War, Assault Team Game and thankfully a Co-operative mode where you can team up with other gamers to play through the missions together.
On the whole Purple Haze is simply OK but there are better FPS games to opt for on the Xbox. That said I do like the way certain things have been done in Purple Haze. You have to make good use of your teammates in order to progress through the game. Pressing the black button allows you to call any one of them over to you (tactical orders can also be issued by pressing the black button such as attack, disperse, stop and follow me). Calling the medic will enable you to heal your injuries. The weapons specialist can give you heavy duty backup. The engineer will resupply you with ammo. The radioman will allow you to use the radio and contact your commander. Finally the pointman will navigate you through the hazardous terrain. The pointman can be a little clumsy at times though and does crazy things like attempting to walk through solid rock before eventually turning around and finding a sensible route. When you've called the required character over to you simply place the cross hair over them and it will change to a circle and all you have to do to issue a command is press the 'A' button.
Graphically Purple Haze looks a little rough around the edges. With Halo 2 around the corner it's rather disappointing to find that Purple Haze doesn't even come close to the original Halo in terms of graphical quality. The frame rate does dip from time to time but there's nothing that causes any problems. It's probably most likely that the game was a straight PlayStation 2 port which would certainly explain the lack of graphical finesse within the game. That said though there are some pleasing graphical aspects. The water effects certainly look good and some of the textures in the game are quite detailed but these do look at odds with the ones that aren't up to scratch.
When enabled the subtitles, turned off by default, do a sterling job of keeping deaf gamers informed. The cutscenes are subtitled and the white text is placed on a dark overlay for maximum clarity. Any radio communications you receive from your commander are shown in text too. Comments from your comrades are shown in text so you'll have no problems in understanding what needs to be done. When one of your comrades spot enemies they'll show up on your compass and visual indicators will tell you from which direction an enemy has fired should you be hit. Good use has also been made of icons and a radio icon will appear when you need to use the radio. A soldier icon will also show you what stance your character has taken. If there was one niggle I have with the HUD it's the constant reminder that I'm not signed in to Xbox Live that appears on the bottom left of the screen because it can't be turned off. The manual does a good job of explaining the game basics and if strong language offends you, it's preferable to taking the in-game tutorial.
Vietcong: Purple Haze is one of those titles that's perhaps best rented first if it's the kind of game you're interested in as there are better games on the Xbox in this genre. It's not a bad game by any means but it doesn't quite have the same feel as the PC version of Vietcong and for the most part it's much easier as the difficulty in the included missions seems to have been toned down considerably in places. It is very deaf gamer friendly, probably more so than any other FPS that we've played on the Xbox, so if you find other FPS games don't provide enough visual information you might like how Purple Haze has been done in this respect. Xbox Live play (particularly the co-operative play) does give the game a longer life span but it's a shame that the single player had not been more enjoyable.
Game Rating: 6.0/10
Vietcong comes to Xbox and it's a rather mediocre affair. It has a few redeeming features but it doesn't feel as good as the PC version.
The deaf gamer friendliness of Purple Haze is the highlight of the game and it's definitely a step in the right direction for how FPS games can be made suitable for deaf gamers.