Men of War: Vietnam is taking the brutal Men of War series to the equally brutal battlegrounds of the Vietnam War. New weapons, new maps, and an era-appropriate rock-and-roll soundtrack are all coming together in this real-time strategy game. For the uninitiated, the Men of War games resemble a hyper-lethal version of THQ's Company of Heroes games. And from what we played of Vietnam, this one is no exception.
While some games set during the Vietnam War are content to tell their tale from the eyes of US soldiers exclusively, Men of War: Vietnam widens its scope with two single-player campaigns covering both the Americans and the Vietcong. Of the four missions we had available, the first dropped us into a convoy of allied Soviet and Vietcong troops on approach to an American base. The convoy's trip was cut short by a surprise attack from an American helicopter, but we got the chance to turn the tables on our attackers by hiding in the jungle and conducting some guerrilla warfare.
Like in previous Men of War games, if we wanted to be successful we couldn't just order our men to move and shoot. Depending on their loadout, each solider brought a different flavor of pain to the fight, be it a satchel of grenades or a deadly sniper rifle. Micromanagement of our troops was key, and if we found one we really liked, there was always the direct-control option. This let us control an individual unit using some simplified third-person shooter controls. However, our aim wasn't all that great, so we decided to let the AI handle the marksmanship.
Once the dust had settled, we made sure to scavenge the dead for extra supplies. Ammo was abundant but not limitless, and finding some extra bandages to patch up our wounded was always a plus. Our next task was to flank an American-occupied antiair installation. During the assault, we decided to be a little sneaky by breaking our light machine gunner away from the group to have him flank around to the right. This was a bad call. While messing with that unit we missed the grenade the Americans had tossed at our other troops. When we turned our attention back to them, it was just in time to see the trio get blasted into the air.
A later mission switched sides and put us in control of some American GIs assigned to investigate some civilian villages. Early on we encountered a group of civilians digging up an empty field. When we approached, they promptly dropped their shovels and took up assault rifles, though it didn't do them much good. Further down the same path we got the chance to ambush a Vietcong ambush party, leading to a lethal jungle firefight. Once again we split a specialist from the group, a sniper, and perched him on a tall cliff side. Using his special ability, we sniped a few key targets and took the pressure off our men.
Based on what we played, Men of War: Vietnam is certainly upholding the steep difficulty curve of its predecessors. Quick wits will be a requirement for survival, but if you need a helping hand you can invite up to three of your friends to help you out in four-player cooperative play. Men of War: Vietnam will be released on the PC later this year.