posted 4/21/2003 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: PC
It’s about damn time someone made a first person shooter based on America’s most unpopular conflict. While the majority of the history books tend to focus on what happened here in the ‘States, they often neglect to mention that danger and peril that our servicemen were placed in overseas. It wasn’t a war that was ugly based on its political innuendos, but was marred by the thousands of servicemen who gave their lives for a seemingly pointless cause. The brave young men who risked life and limb in the treacherous jungles of Vietnam; where ambushes, traps and gunfights awaited them behind every bush. Good morning ladies and gentlemen, this is Vietcong.

As its namesake implies you’re a member of the United States armed forces stationed in Vietnam to do combat against the Vietcong. When you begin you’ll start off on boring medical supply missions to underprivileged villages but eventually you’ll work your way up to bombing the tunnels of the VC, kicking some major VC ass in the jungles and of course, kicking major VC ass in the jungles. If you’re in the mood for killing Nazis or strange alien creatures then look elsewhere, this is all about exacting some hardcore justice upon endless hordes of the Vietcong after endless horde of the Vietcong. I’m not usually one up for brainless straightforward shooters but there’s just something about Vietcong that keeps me coming back for more, regardless of its numerous flaws.

The game is broken up into a wide variety of missions ranging from your general run-and-gun jungle missions, claustrophobic indoor missions that take place in tunnels and steal-like missions where you must dispatch of your foes without making a peep. Without a doubt the straightforward action scenes are the highlight of this title. One moment you’re traversing through the jungle with your squad mates, the sound of birds are chirping all around you and all sun peers brilliantly through the trees. Then suddenly a few gunshots are heard and the sounds of chaos erupt all around you. You hit the dirt as you’re ambushed by a group of VCs, trying desperately to avoid the bullets that are whizzing over your head.

Sitting in the center of your surround speaker setup you’ll hear the sounds of gunfire emerging from all over, the VC have you and your squad surrounded, you’re going to have to fight your way out. So you crawl over to a fallen log and lean against it for cover as you try to gather your bearings. Out of the corner of your eye you see a muzzle flash spark from behind a bush, you’ve got a bead on a target and you raise the gun to your eye. You hit pop up from behind your cover and take a few shots, and then you return to your cover to reload. After nailing your target you notice a few more targets off in the distance so you pull out your map. Checking out the map for a bit you yell out to your radioman the coordinates of your enemies and call in an air strike, seconds later choppers enter the area and unleash hell upon your opponents. Finally a wave of silence cascades over the jungle and all is quiet again. You arise from your cover to search the bodies of your enemies, taking extra care to wipe the sweat from your palms.

That’s a typical scene from the outdoor levels of Vietcong, it’s just a shame that the same level of excellence wasn’t carried over to the game’s other missions. As you progress through the game you’ll soon come to the realization that the game is at its best when it’s a strategic shooter. Utilizing cover, popping out to lay cover fire so that your squad mates can flank the enemy and then hiding to reload is a real tense experience. Creeping around in underground tunnels, wandering around aimlessly in mile after mile of bland and repetitive scenery isn’t. The fact that the enemy will almost always get the drop on you and pop you for a few shots before you even spot them will prove to be agitating as well. Add in some really unnecessary stealth-missions that require patience and silence and you have your textbook momentum killer.

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