Vietcong: Purple Haze Xbox Review
War is an often attractive and profitable subject for gaming, just take a look at the shelves and you’ll see that there’s a vast amount of war-based games. World War II is everywhere, whilst Vietnam titles are being knocked up like there’s no tomorrow. It’s cliché after cliché and not to sound like warmongers, but how about a new place to fight our battles, other then the jungles of Vietnam?
To be fair Vietcong is a bit different and unlike titles such as Shellshock Nam ’67 it isn’t out to particularly shock. Thankfully our stomach contents have stayed firmly in our stomachs, as not once did we round a corner and find heads impaled on spikes and the like. We prefer it this way and Vietcong remains a rather subdued shooter that laughs in the face of the running and gunning kind.
Taking charge of a squadron of troops through the Vietnam foliage is the basis of Vietcong and this promises that the game isn’t an unrealistic one-man-mission, with only the odd few levels sending you alone. You have your Radioman, Medic, Engineer and Point man to assist your strive in winning someone else’s war. They all serve a purpose and will most probably come in use sometime during your mission, whoever may be tagging along. The point man is a sizeable asset to your team, he points you in the correct direction, spots traps and scopes the area out for enemies, often he’s the logical choice to lead your team other than yourself. The Medic can heal any wounds inflicted, The Radioman carries the, uh..radio and the engineer can equip you with ammo if you are empty or running low.
You are able to call certain soldiers over if you require any of their services, for example if your health bar is dangerously close to empty your medic can be called over to heal you and so on. This system is basic and allows you to instruct your troops to follow you as a cohesive unit or spread out during gunfights. Thankfully your buddies are intelligent for the most part and don’t require too much babysitting during each mission. There are times when the troops take their time to get into something that resembles organisation though whilst the point man seems rather confused and stands waiting, on other occasions our men wouldn’t move for one another making any sort of movement impossible, it’s nothing the commands can’t sort out but it still gets rather annoying.
The sedate pace is guaranteed to turn many gamers away as it requires patience aplenty, which means it isn’t for the trigger-happy. The point man may seem a little unhurried and drunkard, but it’s the best bet if you want to avoid blowing yourself to pieces after stepping on a trap that you didn’t even know was there until things went boom, it’s also accommodating to be forewarned of any nearby Vietcong soldiers, put your life in somebody else’s hands instead of your own and you may get somewhere is what we’ve been trying to say. It’s not that Vietcong is a tough game to crack, because quite simply it isn’t it’s just one that asks for your calm and tolerance. The Vietnam difficulty is where things get really tough, here it really is virtual hell without the crosshair and not knowing how much energy you’ve got left before you kick the bucket, it’s hell we tell you.
All multi-player options are reserved for Xbox Live Play, which is a little disappointing, although as an online game it’s superb. Up to 10 players can compete or cooperate in death matches (team or solo efforts), mission-based games, Capture the Flag and more. It’s one of the smoothest online shooters we’ve played, although it’s not totally free from problems. Laggy connections can cause a whole lot of fun, which leaves players being unable to kill one another on occasion. Thankfully this seldom happens and with the promise of downloadable content in the future, Xbox Live players should get some good value for their money.
Graphically the game is functional but nowhere near stunner status. The jungle looks a little too artificial and for a Vietnam game that’s not a very good thing. The dull colours don’t help things either. The character models are fairly detailed though, but overall things look very dated and washed out.
Stay well clear if you want another fast-paced, gorgeous and action packed FPS, as this is pedestrian and looks like a pigs foot in comparison to many. We found Vietcong to be a good and tense shooter that may be slow, but the atmosphere of the jungles and the team-based play keeps things lively as well as believable. To hear the sounds of the jungle later become drowned out by gunfire and cursing is a wake up call to tell you that this is no Vietnam expedition as remember this is hell on earth…but fun.