February 19, 1968: “… It is wet and dark,
and it takes all my strength to get through each day alive. My fellow soldiers
are losing control, losing perspective, losing strength … I wonder how
much longer this can last.”
Sgt. Martin Lionsdale is a newlywed, but
this isn’t his honeymoon. These are the steamy, wet, and deadly jungles
of Vietnam. Lionsdale must guide a group of soldiers through campaign-driven
scenarios based on historical events in Platoon, a game developed for the
PC by Monte Cristo and Digital Reality, and published by Strategy First.
The game traces the time frame of 1965
to 1968 and includes 15 missions. While it covers tactical campaigns such
at Operation “Shiny Bayonet” and the Pleiku Campaign, it also is based
on the movie of the same name.
GameZone had the opportunity to play a
beta of the game.
In many regards Platoon is similar to other
real-time strategy games. You can group and control the units, move them
through a variety of terrain elements obscured by the fog of war, and engage
the enemy either in a straight-ahead fire fight or in tactical combat.
Keeping your unit to the bushes doesn’t always seem to work. Twice in the
game, soldiers moving through the trees, with terrain bumps between them
and the road were fired upon by enemy soldiers standing on the other side
of the road.
Oh wait, the area we were walking through
had a low rating for concealment, meaning it was nearly like taking a stroll
down the road. Platoon is a game that requires players to be aware of what
is happening around them.
As mentioned, this is a personal story.
While Washington and the Hanoi governments had political agendas during
the war, the battle fought by the soldiers was a little more personal and
direct. You are given a mission and you try to accomplish while trying
to stay alive. That is what this game is trying to stay alive while
taking on the missions given to you and your platoon.
Another tremendous ally is the camera controls,
which enable players to rotate, as well as zoom in and out, to see what
lies around your unit.
The graphical elements of the game run
the gamut from mundane to marvelous. Some of the tree elements are harshly
rendered (like the clump of leaves overhead) while detailed soldier movement,
dynamic shadows and lighting, and a particle system for special effects
are extremely well done.
Not all the sound was in place on the copy
received, but what was there was solid.
The nice thing about this game is the evolving
nature of the characters. You start out at a basic level, but as you progress
through the game, the veterans in the unit you command improve, or get
a little seasoned. Lionsdale will gain new abilities, such as being able
to call for artillery support. Other specialized units can join your outfit
and give you improved chances at surviving.
The enemy AI seems very good as well, and
this game does present a solid challenge.
The controls are much like you would expect.
Group, or ungroup, point and click and your unit goes there. A firefight
on your hands? Just point and click on the target to fire.
Platoon takes the proposal of environment
warfare seriously. The terrain can either be your friend or enemy. That
is what really allows this game to stand apart from others. This is a game
that shows great potential to be a hit among war gamers. It is smart, looks
good and is relatively easy to jump into and play. Winning is something