Conflict: Vietnam is the third entry in the Conflict series, which began with Conflict: Desert Storm. Developer Pivotal Games is taking the series a few decades back to the Vietnam War and is putting you in the role of a new recruit who finds himself cut off behind enemy lines during the 1968 Tet Offensive. Your goal is to make it through 100 miles of booby-trapped and enemy-laden terrain with your squad to get to the capital city of Hue.
The game will feature 14 missions that will take you deep into the Vietnamese jungle, through small villages, into ruined temples, and down Viet Cong tunnel complexes. You'll once again be controlling a squad of four soldiers with unique specialties that you'll need to make use of to progress. This time out, Pivotal Games is retooling the game engine from the previous entries in the series in the hopes of offering improved graphics and refined gameplay.
The work-in-progress version of the game we saw already showed off some of this work, which includes dynamic lighting, vegetation that reacts to your movement, and more-organic environments. The jungle environs make for all sorts of trouble, because your foes will be heavily camouflaged and will be keen on leaving behind booby traps, such as Bouncing Betty mines and punji spike traps, to name a few. While this will obviously pose some challenges, you'll have access to an era-specific arsenal of more than 20 weapons, including assault rifles, mortars, and .50-caliber machine guns that you can swap on the fly if you run out of ammo for your current weapon. When conventional firearms aren't enough, you'll be able to make use of a wide range of vehicles, such as APCs, jeeps, tanks, helicopters, and riverboats.
The gameplay is being refined some to offer a more open-ended approach to the adventure. The first level we saw showed off an RPG-esque training segment wherein you're directed to individuals spread throughout the camp who'll bring you up to speed on the game's control mechanics.
This time out, Pivotal is putting a greater emphasis on the squad mechanics and is increasing the number of commands you can give your squad. In addition, the developer is adding a host of little refinements, such as context-sensitive actions for your cursor and a smarter aiming reticle. Your squad will now be customizable, since you'll be able to use points you earn from your performance during a level to develop your characters in nine skill categories--such as sniper, medic, and demolitions--after each mission. Missions will now feature branching paths and bonus objectives as well.
Conflict: Vietnam is currently slated to ship this fall for the PC, PlayStation 2, and Xbox. Look for more on the game in the coming months.