Sarge is back in 3DO's latest installment of Army Men.
New levels and new weapons are at your disposal as you rally
your greens to o battle with the evil tans. Magical portals into other
worlds smear the boundaries between what is real and what is
plastic. Conspirators from the Blue and the Gray armies will aid
you at times and kill you at another time.
The original Army Men wasn't particularly revolutionary,
but it did have a certain persona that made it have a unique feel. It
wasn't one of the more entertaining games, but nonetheless, it had
its own little bit of charm. While I wasn't a big fan of the original, I
was interested in what 3DO had done and therefore interested in
Army Men 2 expands a bit off the original, using some
new and better designed levels. AM1 was primarily outside and
most of the missions seemed to use generic, bland trees and grass,
with little of interest to the gamer. AM2 adds some more
interesting levels, like the kitchen countertop and the front lawn
(with its pink flamingo). Level design in AM2 is probably the
biggest step up from AM1.
Graphically, it hasn't come very far from the original.
Backgrounds are still grainy looking and the color is still pretty
uninteresting. AM2 does add a lot of scenery to the boring forests.
One level has you at an airbase and another will have you fighting
at a train yard. Like I mentioned before, the level design is nicely
done and a lot more interesting when compared to AM1. It's still
not up to the graphics par of other RTS style games we've seen in
the past year or so.
The audio is decently done. There's a good bit of speech
from Sarge, though he's sort of a Duke3D takeoff, and occasional
quips from the other men. There's also some voice-overs when
certain objectives have been reached or from the enemy when
reaching a certain location. Weapon noises are average as
vehicles and explosions. The sound is adequate for an RTS but
other then the semi-humorous speech, it's nothing outstanding.
It plays decently as a RTS game. The control hasn't
changed much from the original. Control can be done by mouse,
by keyboard, or by both. This makes it a little bit more complicated
then the average RTS and the mouse implementation is a bit
non-standard, so it takes some practice. I still think the mouse
control could be better done, but it does do what it's supposed to.
Games range from rescue missions to evacuations, from
protection to assassination. It's a very good assortment of mission
types. Sarge is the main character, although there will be different
units to join for certain missions. Some units will carry over to the
next mission, so it's of good interest to keep them alive. AI isn't
particularly impressive, but the AI is suited for the missions. It
does, however, have a decent pathfinding process. Units could go
from point A to point B pretty easily. It may have been a little
overdone, since units would prefer to go their own way instead of
going in a straight line.
Entertainment was decent from AM2. I got bored of AM1
pretty fast, even though it was a unique game. AM2 held my
attention a little bit longer, but it's still not a gripping game.
Sometimes I got frustrated by the game being difficult at times, but
for the most part, I thought the levels were a little too time
consuming for the challenge level.
Multiplayer is worthy enough of an addition to give AM a
little bit more replay. If you're big into the game, the multiplayer is
good. It has some great ways to play, including king of the hill and
capture the flag. AM2 uses DirectPlay so you have all of the usual
methods of multiplayer. It also lets you fill slots with computer
players. It only supports a max of four players, but the boards are
small so there's plenty of action. You can also play custom maps to
give a little extra flavor.
Army Men 2 is a decent title, but it still can't pass for a
great RTS. It has differences which make it a good look for those
turned off by the everyday RTS. If you enjoyed the original, AM2
won't displease you. The enhancements over AM1 are pretty
significant from at least the level design aspect. If 3DO gets to
building a new engine for AM, they could get a hold of a great
game. Until then, Army Men still comes off looking a little bland,
playing a little sloppy, and looking a little immature.
Highs: different, improves over the original
Lows: Small Soldiers syndrome - looks like kiddy, but is
complicated, graphics need work