reviews\ Dec 3, 2002 at 7:00 pm

Platoon - PC - Review

Set in the 1965 - 1968 time period of the Vietnam war, you take control of sergeant Martin Lionsdale, a newlywed that is missing the birth of his new baby because he was drafted into this conflict.  You will fight historical battles such Operation "Shiny Bayonet" and the Pleiku Campaign.  In addition to the basic soldiers that you will command, you will also have irreplaceable units at your disposal.  For example, Isaac Petty is your medic; he has the ability to heal your units.  Mike O'Brady can detect and disarm mines, snipers, tank drivers, artillery fire, and the list goes on.  You don't want to loose any of your heroes for it will make the latter missions near impossible to complete.


In most scenarios, Sgt. Lionsdale leads little more than a squad; supported perhaps with a vehicle such as a M113 armored personnel carrier or a M48 Patton tank. Off-map artillery and air strikes are also sometimes available to be called at Sgt. Lionsdale's discretion. Speaking of artillery strikes, don't get your guys too close to the blast site because it will most likely mean death.  If you lose Lionsdale you will have to restart the mission.  Which leads me to my first gripe.  The missions are difficult and many objectives are to be completed to successfully get to the next one.  You cannot save anywhere during the mission, so if you make it to the end and die, you have to replay the entire mission. 


The whole idea of a Vietnam RTS I thought was a good one.  Unfortunately I felt there were too many shortcomings to bring a great idea into a finished product.  First off the campaign driven missions lets you manage your units but it pretty much stops there.  There is nothing in the way of building field bases or developing any technology or gathering any type of resources to fend off those pesky VC.  Though the developers may have wanted to stray away from these elements, those are the things that traditional RTS players look for in a RTS game.


Your units comprised of both rifleman and heroes can be difficult to maintain.  The GI's or riflemen, though necessary to provide support in the missions, are a real pain in the butt to work with.  For starters if they are fired upon, they will not return fire unless commanded to.  Another huge draw back is that you cannot pick one individual to give commands to.  This forces you to send all your riflemen at a particular enemy resulting in many casualties.  You can select individual heroes to give specific orders to, but you don’t want to loose them.  One hero against an ambush of  3-4 guys almost results in death to the hero.


The graphics are very nice and of course are in 3D.  One of the nicest features is the camera control.  You can pan around 360 degrees and zoom in and out.  Though units and terrain look great all zoomed out, they can be a bit blurred up close.  Still a great feature just the same.


Last but not least if I got an error message or when I tried to download the patch, everything came up in a different language.  French I think.  What's up with that?  It may have also been helpful to know exactly what the patch entailed.  The website gave no insight except that it was released on November 28.  When I saw my WinZip extractor come up in French, I went ballistic.  It wasn't until I got an error message when I tried to play a game that I noticed that was in French too.  And if you're wondering I have not encountered any other instances in any of my games I play frequently.  Just this one.


In short the game is OK at best.  Some gamers may find a bit of enjoyment here, but personally I feel the game may have been a bit rushed to make the Christmas season.  A bit more thought into the game would have been nice.  Great concept, so-so results.


Reviewer's Scoring Details

Gameplay: 7.0
Though the interface can be a little intimidating once you get used to the commands it can get a bit easier.  Riflemen commands were very limited and they had to attack in groups.  Lack of micro management took away from the RTS feel.

Graphics: 8 
The 3D graphics were quite nice and all the camera angles was a nice plus.

Sound: 7
Great sound effects and voices.  But on some occasions the lines that were used did not make much sense.  For example you loose half your platoon in a vicious fire fight, and you hear something like 'good job boys'.  Might have just as well said, 'at least you guys are still alive'…Sheesh.

Difficulty: Hard
Missions have many objectives to complete, and you cannot save mid mission.  This results in many hours of replaying the same mission.

Concept: 7 
Another RTS but I cannot say that I have seen many Vietnam games in this genre.  Good idea, too bad the game was not thought out a bit more.

Multiplayer: 5

Does not come with a server set up, nor can I find a site to host it.  That alone is enough to bring the rating down.  From a chat room I found someone stating that has rooms there but I did not find one at time of review.  From the Platoon website there is not even a mention of MP. 

Overall: 6.5
Though some gamers may find this enjoyable, I do not see a lot of replayability here. The whole French thing still has me feeling that the game was rushed to market.  Though the numbers may average about a 7 or so, too many problems and lack of information at the web site warrants this rating. 

Above Average

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