In the crowded first-person shooter genre, there's something to be said for novelty. Set during the First Indochina War and fully voiced in Vietnamese, 7554 pits you and your Viet Minh comrades against the French colonial forces. Unfortunately, this novel setting is where 7554's appeal begins and ends. The game imitates many modern shooter tropes, but fails to measure up to even not-so-modern standards. Almost every element of the game is flawed, outdated, or both.
The problems start with the setting. The campaign takes you through a number of different covert missions, jungle raids, and all-out battles, but the poorly translated subtitles make it hard to get a grasp of the situation, and they often cycle too quickly for you to read them through. You come away with only the vaguest sense of who is fighting this war and why.
As you jump into the action, the visuals make a decent first impression. There are some nice environments and some crisp details that help create a solid sense of place when you're prowling through the jungle or running through the trenches. Once your enemies or allies come into the frame, however, things go sour. Animation is choppy, faces are stretched and repeated often, and no one seems like a fellow soldier so much as an awkward robot.
Your allies blunder around, shoving you out of cover or just standing in full view of enemy fire. Your foes don't fare much better as they stream in from obvious spawn points and run to different parts of the map without any apparent tactics or self-preservation instincts. In many situations, they just keep coming until you reach some arbitrary body count threshold. This forced repetition, along with the tinny sound effects, makes you feel like you're in a cheap shooting gallery.
It's not always an easy shooting gallery, as your enemies can be quite deadly if you don't duck your head from time to time. You may also end up in dangerous situations by running into invisible walls as you try to flank or take cover, or by reaching for a weapon that, while clearly visible on the battlefield, isn't available for you to use yet. Many scripted sequences go off without a hitch, putting you behind mounted guns, antiair batteries, and bazookas. Others result in your abrupt death, and continue to do so until you figure out what unknown conditions you are not satisfying.
If many of these gripes sound familiar, it's because 7554 checks a lot of boxes on the modern shooter list, even going so far as to include a survival mode that pits you against increasingly difficult waves of enemies, some of whom are zombies. But 7554 struggles to simply execute each element properly, let alone pull them all together into a cohesive whole. By falling short across the board, 7554 serves as a striking reminder of the impressive level of technical and artistic quality that have become the modern-day standard. But unless you're looking for a reminder of just how good we shooter fans have it these days, it's not worth playing.