Amidst much hype and expectations from the legions of loyal gamers, Battlefield Vietnam has arrived. The game is the next entry into the highly successful Battlefield series from Electronic Arts that allows players to wage war from the land, sea, and air.
As the title suggests, the game is set in Vietnam and players are able to play as either American or Viet Cong soldiers online or against computer controlled bots in the solo play mode. Players can select the look of their character and their weapons from a menu as well as the point they will reenter them map after they die.
Once in the game, players battle with other online players to achieve various objectives that range from capturing and holding territory, destroying enemy soldiers and equipment and airlifts to name but a few.
The gameplay options of the game are amazing as players can use any vehicle they encounter to accomplish their tasks. One such example was when my team and I managed to capture an enemy airfield after a fierce firefight. Some of the team stayed behind to guard the field while the rest of us took advantage of the nearby planes and proceeded to bomb the enemy locations.
There are also ground vehicles ranging from tanks to jeeps as well as patrol boats and helicopters that can be used to move players around as well as insert and remove players from various hotspots. With over 24 era-authentic vehicles, players will find a lot of variety to keep the action moving.
There is also the ability for players to set traps at various locales as well as create and destroy spawn points to add to the strategic elements of the online missions.
The controls of the game are complex, as players are required to set different controls for land, ground/sea, and air movement. I found it next to impossible to fly a plane with the keyboard so I would suggest using a joystick for the planes and the mouse and keyboard for the ground missions. Any player who has ever played a 3D shooter will have little trouble with the controls for the ground vehicles, but the vehicles do take some getting used to, and at times some juggling to control them effectively.
Since the majority of the game is online team based play, the designers concentrated on making the game as authentic as possible as there is no storyline or solo campaign for players. The solo missions are basically the same as the online with the major difference being that the enemies are computer controlled and players can set the enemy numbers and skill levels allowing players to practice at their own pace before taking on more seasoned gamers online.
The graphics of the game are solid as with my 128 MB Geforce 4600 TI by Jaton, I was able to have high detail levels that included moving grass and water as well as dynamic explosions. The detail is so impressive that weapons and vehicles leave trails from exhaust and propellants. While it is not as sharp as some of the shooters out there, the graphics are solid if a bit dated but still nice to look at.
The audio portions of the game are good as the sound of the choppers and bullets sound like something out of "Platoon" and "Apocalypse Now" as the steady drone of incoming aircraft can thrill or chill a player depending on which side the incoming crafts are representing. There is also audio in both English and Vietnamese as players can use the function keys to send commands to teammates as well as request assistance. Once a player enters a message, it is repeated in the language of the side they represent followed by the English display onscreen.
Another nice touch is the inclusion of authentic music of the era that plays during the very long load times for maps. Artists from Jefferson Airplane to the Kinks are included as well as historical footnotes on the conflict while the maps load. You can also listen to the radio when in a vehicle, which makes blowing away a village while Ride of the Valkyrie blasts on your speakers a real joy.
Unfortunately what should be an amazing game is severely hampered by numerous issues. Aside from the frustratingly long load times for missions and the complicated controls for aspects of the game, the game is filled with many annoying bugs and glitches. Once such bug is the loss of graphics art times during gameplay. Even with the latest drivers, there were times when the screen would fill with white or triangular images making gameplay impossible. I checked with several fellow gamers and found that this issue is happening with several players and various video cards. Another issue I had is that the lag on the game servers is terrible. With a 1.5 DSL connection, and a server pinging under 100, I was hardly able to play, as there would be delays of several seconds between command and action. Now, this is not the case with all servers as I was able to play on some without issues for various periods of time before the problems arose again.
I know that Battlefield 1942 suffered from many of the same issues upon its early release and became a solid game after several patches were released. I am sure that will be the case with Battlefield Vietnam. That being said, as it stands, the game is often unplayable and is highly frustrating as you can spend more time trying to remedy a glitch or find a playable server than you will playing the game. One suggestion I have is to select servers that are not using the anti-cheat Punkbuster software, as this can help the lag issue greatly.
This is an amazing game with outstanding gameplay experiences in this program, sadly they are often hard to find or use due to the numerous glitches. Battlefield Vietnam often seems like a beta, which is very disappointing as there is great potential in the game and I had thought that many of the bugs and issues with the other games in the series had long been squashed.