3DO's Army Men has returned to the PlayStation, this time in Army Men: Sarge's Heroes 2. General Plastro, fresh from his defeat in the first Sarge's Heroes game, has teamed up with Brigitte Bleu, a treacherous Blue Spy, in an effort to reclaim his troops and destroy the accursed Green Army. The game contains 16 missions of toy-soldier combat, and you'll control both Sarge and Vikki as they infiltrate refrigerators, reconnoiter zombie-filled graveyards, and destroy more than a dozen of those blasted teleportation portals. If the plot sounds horribly contrived, that's because it is. Army Men: Sarge's Heroes 2 is nothing more than the continuation of a theme, but more than that, it is also the worst Army Men game to date.
Army Men: Sarge's Heroes 2 is as cookie-cutter as 3D action games come. As Sarge or Vikki, you run around gathering weapons, completing missions, and blasting Tan sympathizers to smithereens, while trying not to get yourself blown up in the process. In a major step back from the first game, Sarge's Heroes 2 has no strategy elements whatsoever. Not once will you need to traverse mazes, carefully navigate minefields, or sneak silently past the enemy. The first Sarge's Heroes game successfully intermingled stealthy gameplay with well-timed and cleverly placed objectives. Not so in the sequel. Sarge's Heroes 2 is simply a brainless game where your only goal is to shoot everything in sight. As a further insult, health and armor power-ups are scattered superfluously throughout each of the game's 16 levels, making it nearly impossible to die.
As far as weapons go, Sarge's Heroes 2 offers the same selections as the first game: an M16 rifle, a .50-caliber machine gun, a zoom-capable sniper rifle, a powerful shotgun, impact grenades, a grenade launcher, a flamethrower, an artillery launcher, TNT charges, and a mine detector. New to the Army Men franchise, power-ups, such as damage amplifiers, firing rate modifiers, and armored vests are the highlights of an otherwise abysmal set of gameplay tweaks. In a notable step backward from previous Army Men games, Sarge's M16 now locks up when it overheats. Although the idea sounds neat in theory, this addition is actually quite frustrating and unpredictable. Sometimes the gun jams after six shots, while at other times, after only three. 3DO has tweaked the game's auto-aiming cursor feature as well, to the extent that it's now broken. Scratch that: it's amazingly broken. Not only does the cursor always choose the furthest target to shoot at, but also it now sends the screen into a frenzy of disorienting camera angles whenever there are more than two enemies onscreen at once. Army Men: Sarge's Heroes 2 isn't a difficult game by any means, but it sure is difficult to enjoy.
Perhaps more surprising than the game's broken gameplay, Army Men: Sarge's Heroes 2 actually looks and sounds worse than its predecessor. Pop-up, polygon clipping, texture warping, and fog are just as plentiful as before, while texture diversity seems to have decreased. Unlike the first Sarge's Heroes, where hills, streets, toys, and other miniaturized objects were given life by carefully placed texture elements, environments in the sequel appear to have been painted with a set of four-color oil paints. There isn't much in the way of character animation, either. Whether it's Sarge, Vikki, or a ten-ton robot, everyone in Sarge's Heroes 2 waddles as if hit by Plastro's Plastrification disease. The game's sound is similarly atrocious. Footsteps, explosions, weapons fire, and voice chatter all sound muffled, while the game's militaristic music is both tinny and uninspiring. To make matters worse, the music actually cuts out whenever an explosion occurs or the onscreen action becomes choppy.
In addition to its single-player offerings, Army Men: Sarge's Heroes 2 also sports a two-player deathmatch mode. Unfortunately, the ability to play the game at half detail with a friend can't rescue it from its own inherent lack of worth. If you look up the definition of the word "poor" in a dictionary, there's a good chance you'll see Army Men: Sarge's Heroes 2 staring back at you.