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For starters, the graphics are completely outdated.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