by Monte Cristo
Games based on wars are all too common. Hang on a minute I should rephrase that and say that games based on World War II are all too common. I mean there have been thousands of wars and World War II has got all the attention, until now that is. There are two new games, one of which is Platoon and the other is Vietcong (to be released next year) that are based somewhat refreshingly on the Vietnam War. Vietnam as I'm sure you'll all know is a completely different kettle of fish from World War II and in Platoon this comes across fairly well. Let's take a look to see if a game based on the Vietnam War can cut the mustard.
Platoon is a real time strategy game which to some degree can be played as a semi turn-based strategy game because like in Baldur's Gate you can stop the action at any time, give orders and then continue. Most of the game sees you in charge of a small band of troops with the aim of traversing the map and eradicating the VCs from the area. You play the role of Martin Lionsdale and you're in charge of a small group of troops. Each of your men has special abilities, as in Commandos, and it's up to you to get the best out of them and use them wisely in order to succeed.
Just like the game Commandos this game gets difficult very quickly. The single player game is 12 missions long. These missions are supposed to be based on real life events and battles so that should please the historians among you. Throughout the game you're under the constant threat of the VCs launching an attack and as a result the tension remains high. The terrain is thick with foliage for the most part, you don't see any threats before they happen which again I suppose adds to the realism. What really makes the whole thing so difficult though is the lack of a midlevel save. This heaps frustration onto the gameplay, which is a shame because it's actually pretty good. Imagine spending 30 or 40 minutes on a mission only to have it ended by a surprise attack, it's very demoralising. What the developers should have done is to make either a limited save feature or have an unlimited save feature with the option of an Ironman mode where you can't save. This would have appealed to a lot more gamers if the option to save had been there.
One thing you can say for Platoon is that it looks very nice indeed for an RTS. Everything is 3D and it looks all the better for it. The landscapes are thick with foliage that looks great. The soldiers are animated very well indeed. The textures that have been used for the terrain are as good as anything in a RTS game to date and to make it better you can alter the zoom and camera angle to suite yourself. Even zooming right in won't degrade the graphics at all, unlike Commandos where everything becomes heavily pixelated.
Platoon is fine for deaf gamers too. The background to the mission is given completely in text. All the main dialogue is given in text as well as speech too. The unit confirmations are not shown but to be perfectly honest this doesn't matter. The mission objectives and conversations can also be recalled by pressing the 'Esc' key and selecting them. If you have a decent subwoofer you'll also feel the gunfire too, which is good.
Essentially what lets Platoon down is the lack of a midlevel save feature. You could argue that some of the missions feel a bit loose too and occasionally you end up wandering all over the map. Some of the early levels just seem too basic and could have done with adding more objectives to them. Still the game is full of tension and leading your men through a mine field will make the palms of your hands sweat a bit. Should you finish the game you'll also have no replay value which always hurts a game. Aside from the campaign you can also select scenarios which allow you to replay any mission you've completed in campaign mode. There is also a multiplayer mode where you have 100 credits that you can buy your troops with. It is only a 2 player mode though and to be perfectly honest it isn't that impressive but at least you get to play as the VCs if you want.
Game Rating: 5.5/10