There are good and bad things about this game but overall I like it. Most people who have posted reviews have only played about 25% of the game. What they say is not 100% true and you cannot take what they say 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 [current] £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 realistic ‘simulator’. I normally prefer realistic games but I find this one really fun. Plus there is not much choice for games set in this era, so we cannot 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 interesting things which may be overlooked. I have posted them separately here as I feel they are especially noteworthy;
•As a nod to their Second World War games 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. You can chose to make it realistic or just play it easy with 100% accuracy.
•Every plane and helo has its own realistic cockpit which is well modelled. You can also look around them 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 and lay waste to the NVA at the LZ. Then switch back to the Huey and land your troops.
The following points will be the main positive aspects of the game and specifically what I like about from my stand point (liking more realistic games);
•Damage models of aircraft are authentic with the exception of the helos which are like flying tanks. Though if they were not 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 handling and performance of aircraft being authentically depicted.
•Weaponry the aircraft carry is true to the era and is portrayed well in game. The armament of aircraft is true to their real life counterparts, like the four Colt Mk 12 cannons present on the F-8 Crusader. There are also many types of ordnance in game including; unguided and guided bombs, rockets, Agent Orange and Napalm. Armaments and ordnance also all have realistic ammo counts. Though the lack of an AIM-7 Sparrow leaves you just the AIM-9 Sidewinders and your gun(s) for aerial 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. 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 is about 8-9hrs long and takes you from the very start of the war, right to the end. This sees you participate in a wide array of famous events of the war including the Tet Offensive and Hamburger Hill. Missions are plentiful in number and type here 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 them. It is perfectly playable with mouse and keyboard, though 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 does not mean the game is without flaws though. There are also a lot of 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 a threat to you when they are either; in great numbers or attacking aircraft you have to protect. Though this is not a problem, as I have mentioned killing MiGs is not the main portion of this game. In the custom battles against them you can ramp up their 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 USN ships in game 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 reason the NVA sometimes use Second World War Japanese tanks!
•There is 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 M67s to kill tanks with a single hit (though your MG will kill them eventually too). Also you use an M2 50.cal and not the iconic M60 so synonymous with the Vietnam War and the UH-1 Huey.
•When you pass other planes and helos at close range it sounds 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 populous feelings toward the Vietnam War. It was ultimately executed poorly and could have been much better.
•You play the role of a USN 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 aircraft. This means aircraft like F-100s and F-105s are seen on the deck of the USS Enterprise in the menu screens.
•You do not get to pick your aircraft for the missions, not even when you replay them. 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 the game changes your an aircraft sometimes. For example; one mission starts off bombing in an F-4 Phantom, some MiGs roll in and now you are 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 features not in the standard version.
•The cut scene graphics are worse than the in-game ones (not saying those are bad) and they often look out of focus or blurry.
•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 did they not model an M48 Patton instead?’
I hope this review helped you. Take into consideration everything I have said before you decide to make the purchase and remember...do not buy this game at full price!