Men of War: VietnamPlatform: PC Games
Category: Action Games, Simulation, Strategy
1C Company recently gave me their latest tactical, military game, Men of War: Vietnam, to review. It's very difficult for me (in other words, I'm terrible), but I've also been having a lot of fun. I was impressed with the game when I first previewed it over a year ago at 1C Company's Another Night in Moscow event, so I was pretty excited to finally get some time to play it. There are lots of excellent details in the game such as inventory management, the ability to reload and unload weapons, and direct control of soldiers. Men of War: Vietnam definitely requires a lot of strategy and tactical thinking. As someone who doesn't usually play strategy games often, it was extremely difficult. However, I can say that it was not overwhelming like I was thinking it might be!
Men of War: Vietnam is rated T and was released today, 9/7/11, for $34.99. I played it on Steam, but it's releasing on most major online retailers as well. My Steam version listed Steam Cloud as a feature, but neither settings nor saved games were stored in the cloud. This might be due to the game not being released yet, but I'm not sure. It also features achievements for beating the various levels and the game on different difficulties. I'm always happy to see achievements included, but I would have enjoyed seeing more varied achievements that rewarded doing something extra besides normal progression.
Men of War is an on-going series of tactical war games for the PC. Previously, the series has always been set in World War 2. Men of War: Vietnam marks Men of War's entry into a new era - the Vietnam War. The game features two campaigns. The first follows the Russians helping the North Vietnamese. This is the first time I have seen the Russian perspective on the Vietnam War. The second campaign, as you would probably expect, follows the Americans. Each campaign contains five missions. In addition to single player, Men of War: Vietnam features a co-op mode as well. I've never played a game taking place during the Vietnam War. In fact, this is the first time I've even heard of one. As most gamers would agree, war is an excellent subject for a game, but I'm getting tired of seeing the American and British perspectives of World War 1 and 2 over and over. Men of War: Vietnam is a very nice change and is extremely interesting.
Let me give an overview of the type of game this is. I am tempted to call it a strategy game. Yes, it requires strategy; however, when I say strategy game, most people think of something along the lines of Command & Conquer, Warcraft, or Starcraft. Well, those are very different than Men of War: Vietnam. You won't be building structures, worrying about economy, or controlling vast armies of hundreds of units. Rather, you'll be controlling of a handful of soldiers while desperately trying to stay alive and defeat the enemy. You'll be taking specific control of a small number of units with a lot more detail. Men of War: Vietnam is very realistic. 1C is known for realistic games and simulations. This game is no exception.
Men of War: Vietnam looks great. It also ran well even on my laptop - a computer definitely not designed with gaming in mind. The laptop is an i3 with 4 GB of RAM and integrated graphics. It might not have looked amazing with the graphics settings all turned very low, but it still looked decent and ran incredibly well. Of course, the game ran well and looked fantastic on a gaming desktop! 1C did a good job with the audio as well. Men of War: Vietnam features realistic sound effects that I enjoyed. I especially liked the music. It's just what you'd expect for Vietnam - rock! The game contains a lot of voice acting as well. Whenever there's written dialogue, there's voice acting to go along with it. This is great, because I'd much hear the lines delivered correctly than read them. All of the dialogue was in English, but various regional accents were used. Some (a lot) were a bit cheesy but very enjoyable.
Men of War: Vietnam opens with the Russian campaign. After an American attack, leaving only four Russian and Vietnamese survivors. Not being able to count on anyone else for extraction, you have to find a way out on your own! Later in the campaign you do eventually find some reinforcements. I won't spoil any details, but you do get to control boats, drive tanks and trucks, wield machine guns, rifles, pistols, and knives, use various grenades, shoot RPGs, defend areas, attack zones, and sneak through hotspots. You're always outnumbered, and the game is always extremely difficult in my opinion, even on easy.
The American campaign gives you the other side of the war. You'll have to rescue American POWs, avoid landmines by watching the paths of enemy patrols, and be wary of alleged civilians that might turn on you! These were the kinds of things I was excited about seeing when I first heard about Men of War: Vietnam, and it didn't disappoint. The only problem I really have the game with at all, as I mentioned previously, is the difficulty. I know it might not be a genre with which I have a ton of experience, I spent hours on the first mission alone - on easy mode. There needs to be some sort of "I'm six years old. What's a keyboard?" mode for me I guess! I had to go through a lot of trial and error to proceed through the game. The biggest advice I can give it to go slowly. Change the game speed to slow, be careful and thorough with your decisions, and save often!
Every level opens with a cutscene showing what's happening. Next a map is displayed while objectives are discussed. Both of these things are very helpful in providing context for the game, and I think 1C made a great decision by including both. I do wish that I could pull up that map during the game. The in-game map isn't as detailed, and I get lost sometimes.
Units are selected with the mouse and can be grouped into squads. Unfortunately, you can't put a unit in multiple groups. This is disappointing to me because it's sometimes convenient to have a unit in multiple. Once a unit is selected, click somewhere to send them on their way! If there is cover available at that location of your mouse cursor while units are selected, silhouettes of your units in the cover will be displayed. Clicking will have your units move there and take cover. Say there are some bushes and a car next to them surrounded by open terrain. Clicking in the open terrain causes your soldier to go stand there in the open. When the cursor is moved to the car or bushes, you'll see the available cover positions centered at the mouse cursor. If you place the cursor in front of the car with three soldiers selected, you might see cover positions for two soldiers and cover for a third in the bushes next to the car. Because the car only provides cover for two people in this case, the third would take cover in the nearby bushes. If the cursor was placed over the bushes and the bushes only had room for two people, the third might take cover behind the car. If there isn't cover available for everybody close enough, everyone will walk over it, and those that can will take cover. Your other units will stand near the cover. The cover systems works really well. As you move the cursor over possible cover locations, you'll see all your different options. This is really great because you can scan over the area until you see the setup you want before you send your troops into the field.
Men of War: Vietnam gives you a huge amount of control. You can specifiy whether you want your soldier to stand, crouch, or lay prone. You can reload and unload your weapon (for passing ammo between soldiers). You can change auto-targeting, alter game speed, use turrets, tow turrets behind vehicles. There is an intricate amount of details. Each soldier even has his own inventory. You can reorganize it, drop items to make room or to give to another soldier, search containers and bodies, change to different type of ammo, use various grenades (smoke, AP, etc.), and heal with medical kits. You'll need to correctly manage inventories. For example, everyone should carry medical kits.
I loved seeing the Vietnam war in Men of War: Vietnam. It's a different type of war than I'm used to seeing in games. I would enjoy seeing more games explore Vietnam. Men of War: Vietnam has an amazing amount of detail. Clearly I've mentioned a few minor gripes I have with the game, such as putting units in multiple groups or more creative achievements, but the only significant problem I had was the difficulty. There are three difficulties from which to choose, and while each is mor difficult than the previous, there needs to be an easier choice. I'm giving Men of War: Vietnam the benefit of the doubt. I know I'm not great at this genre, and I think it's my lack of skill, not the game. 1C always pour in the details and expects you to give back the same effort to succeed. However, it'd be nice if the game accounted for people like me! Men of War: Vietnam is a very full game for a bargain price. It also taught me a very lesson - to be thankful I never had to fight in Vietnam, because I definitely would not have survived!