E3 2002: Platoon impressions

Digital Reality gives us a tour of its upcoming real-time strategy game set in the midst of the Vietnam War.

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Platoon: The 1st Airborne Cavalry Division in Vietnam
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Hungarian game developer Digital Reality gave us a demonstration of Platoon: The 1st Airborne Cavalry Division in Vietnam, its upcoming real-time strategy game, at the Monte Cristo booth on the E3 show floor today. The game is built on a modified version of the 3D game engine used in Haegemonia, the developer's upcoming space strategy game. It is set in the midst of the Vietnam War, and it will re-create some of the war's battles, including Operation Shiny Bayonet, the Pleiku Campaign, and Operation Pershing.

Digital Reality's Tamas Daubner showed us some of the game's units and environments. All the soldier animations in the game are motion-captured, giving the game a realistic feel as soldiers go prone to crawl their way across grassy fields or jump up into a helicopter. The camera controls let the player zoom and rotate at will to get the best view of the battle. Daubner also demonstrated the game's particle system, which blew up realistic clouds of dust during a helicopter takeoff and created a lifelike explosion after a truck was hit by a tank shell. The game also has dynamic shadows and realistic reflections, as well as a variety of destroyable objects including buildings and vehicles.

While the game will not have the traditional resource management and base-building found in many real-time strategy games, it will incorporate a role-playing system that lets soldiers gain experience by engaging in combat and using specific skills. As soldiers gain experience, they will earn new ranks and abilities.

Players in the game will assume the role of a new recruit in the US Army at the beginning of the Vietnam War. As they progress through the game's missions, they will climb the ranks to become a lieutenant and command a full platoon of up to 30 soldiers, including specialists like snipers, scouts, machine gunners, grenadiers, engineers, and commandos. They will also have control of various vehicles such as tanks and armored personnel carriers.

Platoon has been in development since October 2001, and it is tentatively scheduled for release this holiday season, although no North American distributor has been finalized. At this point it looks like it could be a good choice for tactical strategy game fans looking for a change of scenery. We'll post more information about the game in the coming months.

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