Battlefield 1942 was a refreshing change in the First Person Shooter genre that took the gaming world by storm. With so many games set in the World War II era, it faced stiff competition upon its release. However, despite the stiff competition, Battlefield 1942 brought about a following not seen since the Half-Life engine and subsequent mods for Half-Life such as Counter-Strike and Day of Defeat.
Battlefield Vietnam, while more of an update or expansion, turned out to be a pretty good game in its own right. The mistakes that had to be corrected for the original Battlefield were not repeated for Vietnam. In fact, the Vietnam engine is smoother, more attractive, and provides the gamer with a wealth of eye candy not seen in the original Battlefield.
The basic premise of Battlefield Vietnam is just what its title implies. The player is thrust into the lush, dense, and mostly deadly jungles of Vietnam. You will quickly find yourself immersed in the surroundings and this is proven by the constant need to “duck” every time you hear bullets whizzing by. In conquest mode, Battlefield’s most popular mode of play, the objective is simple. Your job, with the help of your fellow soldiers (bots in single player mode or real live players in multiplayer mode), is to take over the battlefield flag points and hold them. Of course, they wouldn’t dare throw you into a firefight without your choice of weapons and vehicles.
The developers of Vietnam took their cue from the Desert Combat team
and implemented a variety of new aircraft, including helicopters. For those not familiar with Desert Combat, helicopters were first seen in this mod for Battlefield 1942, as well as a variety of new airplanes, including flying troop carriers allowing for “mobile” spawn points. When utilized properly in a multiplayer environment, aircraft became key to getting the drop on your opponents. These changes increased the fun-factor and introduced new challenges to gamers who took on the air superiority role.
Team play is and always will be one of the most entertaining aspects of a First Person Shooter. Unfortunately, when it comes to single-player mode, the bots provided in game tend to lack the intelligence part of “artificial intelligence”. There is absolutely no way to competently guide your team to success via the game’s interface. When playing with the bots, I found myself more in a support role and simply following the orders they gave in order to take the flag point. Often times, I was unsuccessful despite having experience with air & water vehicles. They simply don’t get the hint when you clear a capture point that it’s “OK” to take the flag and move on to the next objective. Those who hearken to the thrill of successful team play will quickly find that multiplayer is more to their taste.
With that being said about team play, the devs were given the opportunity to finally implement some sort of in game voice comm and once again, failed to do so. Maybe they consider that 3rd party voice com servers are taking over and there will be no need for in-game comms in the future. However, there are still more and more people that are not playing these voiceless games for that reason alone.
One last thing of note is the music. Those who remember the era will appreciate the soundtrack of Battlefield Vietnam. From intro to game play, you are sure to recognize almost all of the popular music playing in the background. The addition of time-relevant music enhances the immersive nature of the gameplay.
Graphically, Battlefield Vietnam definitely looks and feels better than the original Battlefield 1942. The jungles of Vietnam gave the developers a lot of work to do when it came to populating the battlefields with eye-candy and things to shoot at and they did not disappoint. Gamers will quickly find that the Vietnam battlefield is unquestionably different from the open space battles of WWII as well as the dunes of Desert Combat. Much like the jungles in Ghost Recon, gamers will find that they have a lot of places that allow for hiding and sneaking. This allows for a much more dynamic play and keeps the game style fresh instead of your normal everyday “run and shoot, respawn, rinse, repeat” battle.
The detail level of the graphics is close to astonishing and definitely not found in the previous Battlefield. The vegetation, terrain, vehicles and player models all have been improved upon, and again, since this is Vietnam and not some open battlefield, it really lends to a different style of game play. One of the issues some gamers had with Desert Combat was that players and vehicles were sitting ducks to aircraft. With the amount of obstacles in Vietnam, players now have the ability to hide, sneak, and cause quite a bit of mayhem to enemy aircraft.
The only unfortunate aspect of Vietnam is that you still cannot “affect” your environment. Bullets do not affect trees, tanks do not flatten buildings, and napalm does not level the jungle. Obviously, this is yet to come for mainstream FPS games, but it will certainly add to what we are quickly finding to be a gray line between real life and video games.
As in the previous Battlefield, you have the options to change all aspects of your keyboard, mouse, and joystick layout. Keys are mapped in categories: common, air, land & sea, and infantry. This allows for a completely customizable keyboard layout from the most casual to the most hardcore gamer.
Walking around with the standard infantry layout (WASD) will not be much of a shocker for most gamers; however, getting the best possible setup of flight control will give even the casual gamer an advantage over his or her enemies. A good solid keyboard set up for the helicopter pilot will prove it’s worth time and time again.
As mentioned earlier, while Vietnam supports “single player” (same maps with bots as your targets), the real way to go is to fire up the DSL modem and get in on some online action. There is a lot to be said for a server packed full of “live” targets who are screaming expletives about your mother within the in-game chat after you just shoved a couple of rockets down their rice paddy.
Teamwork and communication are your friends though you will find little of that in public “open” games. If in fact you do find a decent server where teamwork is heavily promoted, it’s generally at the price of a nazi admin having to take the time to kick the more “unfriendly” players out of the server which can have both positive & negative effects on your game play experience.
Battlefield Vietnam comes a long way from its predecessor; however, it is essentially 1942 with better-drawn maps, vehicles and models. Those still loyal to the Battlefield series will find it to be a nice “update” and those just checking out the series for the first time will find themselves immersed in a game of high quality and action-packed adrenaline rushes.