There are good and bad things about this game but I like it. Most people who have posted reviews have only played about one quarter of the game. What they say is not 100% true and you can’t take it as a good representation of the full game. I have completed the game and so I can give you a more complete review. This game, though I do love it, is not worth the £22.99 price tag. If you like the look of this game, wait until it is on sale.
I will start off by saying that this is not a simulator, it is a pure arcade game. I normally prefer sims but I find this one really fun. Plus there is not much choice for games set in this war, so we can’t be picky. It is however very authentic while not being entirely realistic and I think this is one of its greatest strengths.
In addition to all the good and bad points I will make about this game. I would like to mention a few cool little things,which maybe over looked. I have posted them separately here as I feel they are especially noteworthy;
• As a nod to their Second World War games, in two missions you can find the wrecks of an F4U Corsair and an A6M Zero. If you collect them and complete the mission they will then be added to your inventory and you can fly them in custom battles.
• Air to air missiles were still unreliable in Vietnam. To illustrate this, the game gives you the option to change between five different accuracy settings. So you can make it realistic or just play it easy with 100% accuracy.
• Every plane and helo has its own realistic cockpit which is modelled well. You can also look around them in full using the directional view controls.
• All missions require you to use more than one aircraft. You could be ferrying troops around in a Huey, then switch to an AH-1 Cobra gunship and lay waste to the NVA at the LZ. After, switch back to the Huey and drop the troops.
The following points will be positive and specifically what I like about the game, from my stand point (liking more realistic games);
Damage models of aircraft are authentic in the amount of punishment aircraft would take in real life. With the exception of the helos which are like flying tanks but if they weren’t it would make the missions impossible. For example the F-100 is well represented compared to the F-105 which is capable of sustaining a lot more damage. The visual model also reflects damage taken.
Though the flight models are arcady, there is an hair of realism here also with the speeds and manoeuvrability which planes can achieve.
The weaponry the aircraft carry is true to the era and well depicted in game. The armament of aircraft is true to their real life counterparts, like the four auto cannons of the F-8 Crusader. You can use many types of munitions in game; unguided/guided bombs, rockets, Agent Orange, Napalm and many more! All with limited ammo counts. Though the lack of an AIM-7 Sparrow leaves you just the AIM-9 Sidewinders and your gun for air to air combat.
There are a lot of ground units and planes which are all very well modelled in game. You will most likely get acquainted with these fairly quickly, as there is a lot of ground attack in this game. Just like the real war in Vietnam, this game heavily features ground attack and support missions. Sometimes you will go missions without seeing a Mig of any kind. I feel that this realistically represents the air war in Vietnam but it may be a thing to keep in mind, if you just want to kill planes. Though there is an instant action game mode where you can just fight AI.
The missions are varied and the terrain looks good. The campaign contains about 8-9hrs of missions and it takes you from the very start of the war, right to the end. You see a wide array of famous battles including the Tet Offensive and Hamburger Hill. Missions are plentiful in number and type here. These missions are interesting and show a side to the Vietnam War which is not often seen.
To address some of the common complaints about this game... The controls are a little strange but after a little while you get used to it. It is perfectly playable with mouse and keyboard. Controller support is also available. The map areas are small only in some missions, keep playing and you will see that is far from the norm. In a lot of missions I never saw the edges of the map.
This doesn’t mean the game is without flaws though. There are also a lot of other strange things the devs did which could be considered as flews that I will address here also;
• The AI is not that great. They only serve to be annoying to you when they are either in great numbers or are attacking other aircraft you have to protect. This is not so much of a big deal as I have mentioned. Killing Migs is not the main portion of this game. In the custom battles against them you can ramp up the number to make it more challenging but even then. It is still not that great.
• The missions sometimes start you facing the opposite way to the direction you are meant to be heading.
• They obviously used a lot of assets from their previous Second World War titles and this ends up with some odd experiences. There are a few different ships in the game for the US but apart from the USS Enterprise, they are all Second World War destroyers and submarines. The US also use Sherman tanks but the devs took the time to make T-55s, PT-76s and ZSUs for the NVA. Even then, for some strange reason, the NVA sometimes use Second World War Japanese tanks.
• There is also a part in the game where an NVA soldier is talking but he is clearly speaking Japanese and not Vietnamese.
• The description for the F4U Corsair on the carrier is actually for a F4F Wildcat.
• When in the gunner view in helos, you can throw grenades out of the helo to kill tanks in one hit (though your MG will kill them eventually). Also your MG is a Browning M2 50.cal and not the iconic M60 ‘Pig’ so synonymous with the Vietnam War and the UH-1 Huey.
• When you pass other planes and helos at close range it sounds to me a bit like you are passing a prop plane. Not a jet or helo.
• The voice acting and overall plot is pretty bad. Though what they were going for is a true story and highlights many aspects of the US’s feelings toward the Vietnam War. It was ultimately executed poorly and could have been much better.
• You play the role of a navy pilot but like the story, it is more of a reason to put you in the war. In reality you fly a multitude of USN and USAF arcraft from the time. As you are in the navy, you operate off a carrier and it is a little weird seeing planes like the F-105 and F-100 on their.
• You don’t get to pick your planes for the missions (not even when you go bad and play it again). This is not a terrible thing though, as you are given the planes you need, with the payloads you need to do the missions. Though the timing is strange when they chose to give you an aircraft sometimes. For example one mission starts off bombing in an F-4 Phantom, some Migs roll in and you are now flying A-4 Skyhawks. The bad AI makes this playable but it just struck me as very strange.
• Multiplayer does not work unless you are in the beta version. This Beta also adds more features not in the standard version.
• The cut scene graphics are worse than the in-game ones (not saying those are bad). They often look out of focus and as if they have motion blur on them.
• With all of these problems, I just found it hilarious that there is a wide array of sea life in the Gulf of Tonkin which is only seen in one mission. Whales, dolphins…it just makes me think why they didn’t model a M48 Patton instead.
I hope this review helped you. Take into consideration everything I have said, before you decide to make the purchase but remember...do not buy this game at full price!