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Game Over Online ~ Vietnam Black Ops

GameOver Game Reviews - Vietnam Black Ops (c) ValuSoft, Reviewed by - Rebellion

Game & Publisher Vietnam Black Ops (c) ValuSoft
System Requirements Windows 9x, Pentium II 266 MHz, 200MB HDD, 32MB Ram, 8x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 58%
Date Published Wednesday, June 14th, 2000 at 02:28 PM

Divider Left By: Rebellion Divider Right

LithTech engine, budget publisher, and a $20 price tag. Not exactly what you're looking for when you're searching for a great game. Vietnam Black Ops fits right in this bracket, so you'll find it shouldering up on the shelves with previous "top sellers" like Deer Hunter and Hard Truck at your local Walmart. You don't usually find too many first person shooters sitting in the bargain bin when they first come out, so what there to expect from VBO? Well, surprisingly, there's actually more than expected.

ValuSoft hasn't exactly come out with a classic game yet; Desperados, War in Heaven, and their Whitetail Hunting series aren't likely to win any awards for innovation. Like their name implies, they're up there with WizardWorks as a budget games publisher. VBO shows signs of this right from the get-go.

The storyline is somewhat of a Vietnam era Soldier of Fortune. You're on a mission to assassinate some Viet Cong general and your helicopter gets shot down and you're taken as a POW. An in-game sequence begins with your POW camp being bombed and an explosion opening your cell. Another bomb kills a bunker allowing you to go grab their weapons and start your mission, to find the General and make your way back home. While it's not full of a lot of in game cutscenes, it does have a few that do add to the game experience.

The LithTech engine powered Blood 2 and Shogo, both games that came out in 1998, so the engine behind the game is rather dated. Even when it was new, it didn't stack up well against the competition, the Quake2 and Unreal engines. It did have some nice features so seeing it back in action isn't too terrible. Graphically, VBO is behind the times, but it does do a relatively decent job with the LithTech engine. Level designs are somewhat large, but they sometimes look rather clumsy. Many of the levels are dark, very dark, so dark that it really doesn't matter how good the quality of the graphics are because it's too dark to tell anyway. The outdoor levels have a sort of clunky feel to them, decent sized but the budget unpolished textures really stand out. The gun models are at least semi-accurate and the enemy unit models (all one of them) are okay as well.

Speaking of guns, I might as well note what you'll be getting. Nothing real interesting here, but since it's supposed to be relatively realistic the guns are fitting. You will have in your arsenal a knife, an AK-47, a M-16, M-60, grenade launcher, rocket laucher, and a sniper rifle. I do have to say that the machine guns are somewhat hard to tell the difference in action, though the M-60 does cut down enemies a tad bit faster. I didn't really see a big difference between weapons except in a big fight. One on one, no gun is really any better than another.

The LithTech engine wasn't exactly an efficient engine and it shows here as well. Somewhat long load times and a very touchy input system make the game semi-irritating. The keyboard controls are just too sensitive for the number of tomb raider-esque jumping/climbing elements. I'd also like to say that I hate jumping sequences and having to walk balance beams. Real life doesn't exactly consist of this, and if it did it'd be much easier to do.

The game design in VBO is what really is the most impressive feature of the game. Combine some of the elements of VBO with Soldier of Fortune and you could have had one badass game. VBO is full of plenty of ambush types of situations. If there's a dark corner anywhere on a map, there's almost always going to be Charlie sitting waiting for you to come around. There are also a fair number of tripwires and pit traps, though they probably could have gotten away with more. Some of the traps are pretty well hidden, so saving is somewhat of a necessity. The game only is composed of nine levels, but it's chock full of baddies, traps, jumping over gorges, and etc to make the game pretty difficult.

While I was disappointed to the lack of multiplayer, I will say that; 1. This is $20 budget game and 2. The LithTech engine was horribly inefficient at multiplayer.

Really, VBO is not a bad game. There's some good ideas here, some crappy implementation, but for a cheapo shooter, it's quite good. There's a good level of difficulty and it has enough of an interest level to be playable for at least a little while. It suffers from subpar graphics, overly sensitive controls, and an unpolished budget look. If you're a gamer who likes to roam the budget rack, it might be worth your time. If you'd just like another FPS to play and Daikatana's just not doing it for you, it might also be worth a look.

Highs: good use of traps, enemy placement - requires a little more strategy than run and gun

Lows: no gamma control makes for VERY dark levels, overly sensitive keyboard controls, too much balance beam walking, only one enemy model, no multiplayer


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