2003 Reviews

Vietcong

  • Review Date: 2008-12
  • Release Date: 2003-03
  • Developer: Pterodon & Illusion Softworks
  • Rating: 7.5

It's been a couple of months since I've played a full game, having kept myself busy with Half-Life mods. Most of which were fairly average, but of course the engine was designed in 1996. I read a review for Vietcong which mentioned the game being only marginally better looking than the high-definition updated Half-Life. So, as usual, I wasn't expecting much, but Vietcong definitely delivered. The visuals were great, albeit outdated by todays standards. But compared to it's competitiors of the time; Medal Of Honor and Call Of Duty, Vietcong looks just as good. But it's hard to compare because most of the battles in Vietcong take place in lush jungle and bush.

The waterfalls, rivers, rotting trees and bush everywhere creates an atmosphere I have not yet played in game. The levels were also quite big, some of which you can easily get lost in. Although there is a fairly linear path, you often need your teammates to guide you through because it doesn't always look linear.

Which brings us to another aspect that Vietcong suceeded at compared to most other first person shooters - team mates. You team mates don't really get in your, they don't get stuck or lost, the aren't complete idiots that run into bullets. Your pointman also shows you the way, although at a snails pace. You don't have to wait for them, they won't hold up your progression, but if they are around in a gunfight it's certainly helpful. There are a couple of levels where you're fighting with another team charging up a hilll towards some ruins full of Vietcongs, so you've got at least a dozen team mates charging up with up - a neat feeling.

The game does have some flaws though. The biggest being limited quicksaves. You can only use quicksave five times on normal difficulty - and with the instant deathtraps and when a single bullet can slash your health in half, you need unlimited quicksaves. Fortunately, you can get unlimited quicksaves on easy difficulty. But easy was actually still very fun, certainly not so easy that you can play with your eyes closed.

The other annoying thing was the limited amount of ammunition and weapons you can carry. One handgun, and one normal gun, but often you have to drop your weapons and pick up an enemies gun because you've run out of ammo. Actually picking up ammo is a timely matter, as is making countless radio calls in the middle of battle.

Vietcong was not a long game, probably ten hours max. But maybe it just felt short because I was having so much fun with it. Everything is very realistic, even killing your enemies as you need to hit them pretty well or they'll recover and keep shooting. Great graphics for 2003 and fun gameplay means I'm looking forward to playing the official addon pack and sequel. It's a pity the creators, Pterodon & Illusion Softworks, haven't done much else in this genre. But, how will this hold up against Men Of Valor, the only other successful Vietnam-based game released a year later...