Vietcong: Purple Haze – PC – Review

Politics aside, no
other war has compared to the Vietnam War in strategy, weaponry, and results. 
I wasn’t alive during the 60’s, thus I can’t compare how Vietcong: Purple Haze
stacks up to the real thing.  It’s important to note that Purple Haze is
not a new title from Gathering.  Rather, it’s a package featuring the
original Vietcong released earlier last year and the new mission pack, Fist

The story to Vietcong places us in the
position of Sergeant First Class Steve Hawkins.  After being transferred to Nui
Pek camp, he and his Special Forces comrades must face the enemy in unknown
territory while accomplishing objectives in the process.  Each character has
their own abilities, their own style, and their own history which adds a taste
of realism at every save point.

The game play
features the much overused genre of first-person shooter, this time dropping you
into the jungles of Vietnam for a brand new adventure in guerilla warfare. 
Here, you must use the camouflage to your convenience (because your enemy does). 
The AI is impressive, considering how chaotic and confusing it can be in the
deep reaches of the jungle.  You can’t just burst into a blaze of raging
gun fire and not expect to get taken out by the hidden enemy.  Using
strategic combat, and the selection of weaponry at your disposal ranging from
sniper rifles to M16s, you will enjoy living longer for your next mission
objective.  I didn’t like the one-gun one-soldier restriction which limits
your weapon wielding, but call me a sucker for demolition as the explosives kept
things interesting during the heat of war.

There are three modes, single-player
campaign, quick-mission mode, and multiplayer mode (which gives you the option
of playing for America or the Vietcong).  Once you have completed the
single-player campaign, you will find multiplayer mode to be a welcomed addition
to the game.  The tension rises, your moves must be made more carefully, and
your enemies are usually smarter (keyword: usually).  There are seven different
multiplayer modes including deathmatch, capture the flag, and cooperative. 
There was some difficulty finding good servers absent of lag and connection
problems, but once you are in, it is fairly realistic.

Which brings us to
the graphics.  It’s quite obvious that this game was first released Q1
2003.  Keep a distance with all plants, wildlife, and other natural
barriers, because the closer you get, the uglier it gets.  The character
models aren’t as bad to look at, but you won’t see anyone buying this one for
the graphical aspects.  I’ll give a round of applause for the sound. 
Offering 60s-70s based music and realistic gun and explosion effects, it went
above and beyond the graphics.

Fist Alpha is the
mission pack addition to Vietcong, known to fix some bugs in the older version
as well as throwing in a small single-player campaign and two new multiplayer
modes, bringing the total to 10.

The story is a bit different; you are
Warren Douglas, another sergeant who finds his way through the jungle with his
squad mates.  The campaign is noticeably smaller, and although it can be
difficult, it left an unimpressed glaze to my face.  Purple Haze also features
the official Bradygames strategy guide on the disc to make things easier for you
in the thickness of war.

There is a trickle
of vehicles in-game, but there is nothing you get here that you can’t find in BF
1942.  With the addition of a few extra weapons including bayonets, Fist
Alpha probably couldn’t handle it alone with the original to back it up. 
The graphics aren’t much improved from Vietcong, so follow the golden rule in
keeping your distance.  The audio also continues its tradition from the
previous release.

To sum it all up,
Vietcong is easily forgotten after you play it.  Maybe it’s just that so
many FPS games have been lumped together in recent years that can’t get the
attention they so desperately need.  Or maybe it’s just because Vietcong
screams adequacy in practically all fields.  Whatever the case, the
question is whether you will buy it or not.  If you are looking for a
shooter with an interesting spin on jungle warfare, look no further. In any
other case, if you threw replay value into the mix,you may soon forget you even
purchased the game.

Gameplay: 7.6
Realism of the war touches close to home, but it’s still easily forgettable

Graphics: 6.3
There is nothing to be proud of with Vietcong graphically

Sound: 9.1
A great soundtrack with realistic effects to make the most out of your
computer speakers.

Difficulty: Medium/Hard

Concept: 8.5
I’m fairly sure this is the only game based around the Vietnam War, for
which I say "kudos on the attempt."

Multiplayer: 8.0
10 different modes to play in with one competitive edge that rivals the
rest.  Why is it though that joining servers can be such a pain?

Overall: 7.6
Vietcong: Purple Haze offers a glimpse at what American soldiers went
through in Vietnam 40 years ago.  But unfortunately it doesn’t meet the
normal expectations of a successful FPS and will quickly become another game in
the crowd.