‘Vietcong’ sings same old song

By Gus Bode

Mediocrity keeps morale low

War simulations are all the rage right now.

You can’t set foot into an electronics store without seeing some sort of display for any number of franchises. There’s “Medal of Honor,” “Call of Duty,” “Men of Valor” …the list continues.


The title launched for a suggested price of $20, which immediately suggests quality is not top notch.

This supposition turns out to be correct, as “Vietcong” does absolutely nothing new or exciting for the first-person genre. It’s a decent port of a mediocre PC game that never excels, but still manages to squeeze out a few fun moments.

You and your team are obviously in the thick of the war.

Each mission has you completing objectives and making sure the enemy is subdued and accounted for. Team members have their own unique trait they bring to the group, and utilizing them at the correct time is the key to survival.

For example, if the opponent has the team pinned down, send out the machine gunner to clear a path. It sounds cool on paper, anyway.

The A.I. in “Vietcong” is so atrocious it destroys any illusion there’s a team of living, breathing people. Soldiers will stand still while being shot at. They will hang back when there is clearly a massive gunfight just ahead. The friendly troops even clutter together and block your path, usually resulting in someone being shot to death.

One of your members is a tracker. His job is to guide the team through the undecipherable forest paths safely. In actuality, he roams about and eventually gets around to leading you forward.


The real trouble is the role of navigator itself; the alleged dense jungle brush is surprisingly linear, easily handled by the player. About the time you realize how little you need the tracker, you also notice the rest of the team is pretty useless too.

Combat is a fairly good time, though the realistic kickback of weapons will probably aggravate more trigger-happy players. “Vietcong” isn’t about rushing and killing, it’s about stealth and surprise. In this regard it’s an OK game, but again, easily topped by others. It spends a lot of time, through cut scenes and dialogue, telling you how bad the war was, but you never get to experience the chaos yourself. Every mission is a different take on something you’ve already played before.

Naturally the title received an “M” rating, because of the grim realities of war. Well…not really. Blood and gore are in short supply, but there sure is some language. Once again simple words are too much for wee ones to hear, but blowing apart a fellow human being is totally understandable.

And on top of everything else, the load times are a cruel joke. When you die (and you will), the entire level must be reloaded, which takes damn near a minute to complete. Granted, once loaded the level moves along pretty smoothly, but there is a lot of trial and error here. Waiting that long quickly persuades the player to move on to another game.

“Vietcong” is overpriced budget software. At $20 it’s a good deal. You’re getting an average game for cheap, no harm done. But for its suggested price, you could buy “Shellshock” or “Conflict:Vietnam,” though even those two are finding some scathing reviews. You could do worse than “Vietcong,” but you could certainly do better.