With the first person shooter becoming more and more real, developers are having to take the realism to the battlefields of the past rather than the future. A large proportion of gamers want realism. With a glut of past historic battles being brought to an interactive life, it’s clear that gamers want to relive these historic moments of conflict. Recently this has been seen in the guise of reliving the WWII, the Gulf war, the UN conflict in Somalia and now it seems the Vietnam war.
To say that this game is in-depth would be an understatement, every attention to detail has been made to make this experience one to be remembered and that is including the fear factor. Bullets splash in the water, machine guns give you recoil and opponents are tracked down by muzzle flash.
Achieving this realism however, does come with a cost. The game is graphically demanding as it recreates superbly the jungle density that we have seen so many times in films like Platoon and the Tour of Duty television series, so sub-GeForce 3 cards will struggle and rely on 768Mb-1Gb of RAM. Furthermore this game carries an 18 certificate from the BBFC and means that there is plenty of action, gruelling deaths and more to the point swearing left right and centre as you start to relive the Vietnam conflict.
The main element of the game can be found within the campaign section and here you follow a linear storyline with missions getting harder as you progress. Initially this is fairly slow with long pauses where there is no action before you are ambushed and everything goes wrong - your first mission for example sees you having to flank a sniper on a hilltop while other men in your unit draw his fire.
AI is annoyingly impressive - snipers follow you and only shoot when you show your head over the rock you're hiding behind - while your unit has enough intelligence to draw their fire but not to take down the situation like some crack SWAT team fresh from their latest incursion.
Those wishing to throw themselves straight into the action can chose the quick action mode and here you can chose different weapons, unit numbers and the level and number of Vietcong to fight. Controlling other members of your unit is similar to the WWII game Hidden and Dangerous (also from Take 2) and players of that classic game will fit right at home with this interface.
The controls follow standard FPS protocol with the useful addition of a 'hit the deck' button - very handy when people start shooting at you, although this did give the occasional problem as you fell into rocks or surrounding trees. But then again this is a Take 2 game and bugs are somewhat expected - plus with a number of patches already available most of these problems have been fixed (again look at Hidden and Dangerous when that was first launched).
Of course as you would expect there is a large multiplayer section to the game and the quick action maps lend themselves well to this - it’s rather like playing a wide game at summer camp, but in the jungle rather than the Black Mountains in Wales.
Bringing the game alive is the soundtrack and ambient jungle noise. Not a second will go by without something scaring you or the sound of insects chattering.
While Black Hawk Down has successfully tied up the first person desert shooter, Vietcong does the same for the jungle. Given a powerful graphics and sound card the game comes very much to life. Yes the game play is slow to start with, rather than the BHD attitude of throwing you into the action, but then you have the quick action mode if you need an adrenalin fix. If you're new to it, skip straight to the Purple Haze edition to get the extra multi player maps from the Fist Alpha mission pack.