Game Over Online ~ Army Men: World War

GameOver Game Reviews - Army Men: World War (c) 3DO, Reviewed by - Lee Donowitz

Game & Publisher Army Men: World War (c) 3DO
System Requirements Windows 9x, Pentium 90, 16MB Ram, 100MB HDD, 4x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 23%
Date Published Wednesday, July 26th, 2000 at 10:50 PM

Divider Left By: Lee Donowitz Divider Right

The gaming industry can be puzzling at times. It makes you wonder how titles such as System Shock 2 and Dark Reign struggle for sales, while clearly the Army Men series flourishes. Why else would they be able to create so many games in such a short period of time? I suppose the console market helps support such projects, but you'd think by now gamers would realize that the Army Men series, while charming at first, hasn't improved one bit. It seems like the time span between each Army Men title, since it's initial release in 1998, is becoming shorter and shorter. That can only mean one thing, the end of the world must be looming.

Can you believe it? The green and tan armies still don't get along. Once again, war wages between the two plastic factions. It's nothing new really, they were warring a few months ago in the previous Army Men title, and several months before that as well. They've been warring since 1998 and while it was certainly a nostalgic trip the first time around, isn't it about time we put these little toy soldiers back into the toy box?

Ok, so Army Men: World War isn't story driven. This time around, the Army Men franchise has been placed in a squad-based action title. I'll certainly give kudos to 3DO for switching up the genres on us. They've reached out into the strategy realm, the arcade shooter genre, and now a squad-based action game with this license, but isn't it about time they actually upgraded the graphics, sound and gameplay itself? When Army Men was first released in 1998, the formula was relatively satisfying, but the series hasn't undergone much of a change since then and the result is a recipe that no longer equates success.

Ok, let's start to pin point where Army Men: World War goes wrong (this may take awhile, but I'll try to keep this one short and simple, it's really not worth all this typing). For starters, the graphics are completely outdated. This particular Army Men title takes place solely in the plastic world, as opposed to the human world, so the game has already lost what charm it had to begin with. The textures in the plastic world are bland to say the least and coupled with the lack of detail in numerous areas, makes for a difficult time in locating your soldiers when you need them most. It's hard to see tan army men on the beach and I'm certainly not going to squint my way to glasses trying to locate them. Cut scenes, there are a few, but the whole Army Men franchise is in desperate need of a facelift and, gasp, a new engine. Technology has advanced since 1998, perhaps the series should advance with it if it wishes to survive.

If the visuals weren't enough to deter you, the audio is just as bad, if not worse. The sound effects are as basic as they come, they sound like they've been recycled a hundred times and no doubt have. The voice acting is even worse and the untimely jokes will have you turning off the sound in no time. Bottom line, the entire Army Men presentation really needs to be re-worked.

Army Men: World War seems to feature a World War II theme to its level design. There are 15 single player missions in total and many of them take place on beaches, in jungles, in war-torn cities and other like locales. The mission design itself isn't so bad, but it lacks variety. Many of the missions are simple run 'n gun jobbers and it becomes repetitive pretty quickly. Being a squad-based action game, there are many different kinds of weaponry you can use in each level. Machine guns, flamethrowers, grenades, bazooka and sniper rifles have been conveniently left lying around for your use. If it's heavy artillery you quench, you can also overtake tanks and jeeps when the job requires. Finally, you can also call in napalm and air strikes during the heat of battle.

At the end of each mission, survivors are brought back and re-used in future missions. What this basically means is you want to keep your casualties to a minimum, which can become a problem considering the horrible interface this game operates on. It's nothing we haven't seen before in terms of a real-time strategy interface, but the ability to select and move units around can be tedious. You'll find that on several occasions, your men will be gunned down because you were too busy trying to get another group of men to move in the right direction.

One of the few neat features about Army Men: World War is the ability to select a single operative and control his or her every movement. You can run, crawl and dive your way to victory with a couple of drawbacks. First of all, you'll have to expect your other soldiers will be able to handle themselves accordingly (not!). Secondly, when you control a single soldier, the camera zooms in on that selected soldier so you can see them up close and personal (while remaining in a third person view). What this doesn't help is your field of view. You'll have a difficult time picking up enemy troops when you can only see so far in front of your soldier. The camera angle is fixed so there's no way to zoom out to a more desirable angle.

Multiplayer does exist in Army Men: World War, so you can challenge your friends on any one of 15 different multiplayer maps. The interface and gameplay is as terrible as it is in single player mode though, so you'll quickly find the game has little to offer in terms of multiplayer either.

Army Men: World War is a game that is far behind the times. In fact, the entire Army Men series is behind the times. Perhaps 3DO should step back for a moment and put a little bit of that money they seem to be making from this franchise back into the game itself. Update the graphics, re-do the sound and come up with some new, unique and exciting ways to bring these toy soldiers to the PC.


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