3DO seems bent on producing as many Army Men games as it possibly can, even though only a small number of them have truly been worth a second look. Army Men: Sarge's Heroes 2 falls into the larger, more disappointing category, as the latest in the company's line of third-person shooters starring its otherwise amusing cast of sentient toy soldiers is not even worth a first look.
The original Sarge's Heroes really didn't offer much, aside from the series' amusing premise. All but the most undemanding of players would agree that the original Sarge's Heroes wasn't exactly the most exciting game on the block at its time of release: It was plagued by unresponsive control, sketchy frame rates, and unpolished visuals. Sarge's Heroes 2 doesn't do much to make up for the deficiencies of the original. With the addition of a new playable character and a mishmash of new levels, the sequel feels more like a half-hearted add-on to the original game than a stand-alone product.
That said, 3DO's gameplay vision remains the same: As Sarge (or Vikki, in this installment), you run and gun through a series of levels, engaging in constant battle with the vile Tan army and its various military constructs. Some levels are based in Army Men land, while others take place in our own world, to which the toys travel by means of interdimensional portals. As per tradition, the game is quite easy to get through, as Sarge and company's shots, for the most part, automatically ring true, thanks to an extremely liberal autoaim function. In theory, the levels are well thought out, especially the ones that take place on planet Earth, as they are modeled after real-world, everyday locales (refrigerators, kitchen tables, children's rooms, and so on). In practice, though, the engine's shortcomings work to undermine their otherwise thoughtful designs. Slow frame rates are a frequent problem, especially during heavily populated battlefields, on which things move at a relative crawl. Also, the series' characteristically bland textures pervade in this sequel and rob the game of any visual character it could have otherwise flaunted.
The game's control scheme can also be fingered as a conspirator in the game's general lack of proficiency. The scheme, for the most part, is awkward and overcompensating, which causes Sarge, all too often, to turn more widely than you'd like him to. While the upper C-button lets Sarge perform quick 180-degree turns, the addition doesn't allow for as precise a level of control as the game warrants. All too often enemies located on your flanks, who you'd, for all intents and purposes, like to shoot, fall out of your field of vision, as the camera swings well wide of them after the attempt of a turn. While it's safe to say that the scheme is a touch more precise than its predecessor, saying so really isn't saying much. The addition of the 180-degree turn, in truth, feels more like a quick jury rig than an earnest attempt to improve the game's systems - a theme that the game at large seems to follow.
In a few words, Army Men: Sarge's Heroes 2 doesn't, in any remote way, come close to redeeming its prequel, much less the majority of the series. This is not to say that the game is unplayable; however, any player even mildly familiar with the N64 beat will be able to rattle off the titles of countless superior third-person shooter-adventures.