The first game in 3DO's Army Men series for the console systems, Army Men 3D for the PlayStation, lacked a great deal of spit and polish but had enough going deep down to make you hope for a sequel, albeit one that was much improved. That sequel, Army Men: Sarge's Heroes, came out for the Nintendo 64 last year and has now arrived for the PlayStation, but not much, if anything, has been improved upon, and it contains even more problems.
You once again take the role of Sarge, a soldier on the Green side of a world full of plastic army men. The Green are in a war against the Tan forces, who have recently begun importing terrible weapons from our own world, such as magnifying glasses, which they use to melt your men down to plastic puddles. Your mission is to gather your troops, a la John Belushi in The Blues Brothers, to create a unit capable of stopping them. Your arsenal is made up of weapons from Army Men 3D, such as a machine gun, a flamethrower, and grenades, with new additions like a sniper rifle and mines.
The game camera in Army Men 3D's single-player mode was near perfect because it stuck right behind your back, but in Sarge's Heroes for the N64, it floated behind you, and when your character turned, it took a few seconds to catch up. You'd sneak around the corner of a barracks and confront an enemy, who would then fire on you immediately, only he wouldn't come into view for a few seconds. Luckily, the camera in the PlayStation version of AM:SA stays put right behind you, although it also zooms into the sky for dramatic effect at times. Another fix is that it's now very easy to strafe in the game - not having this option was one of the main complaints about the original Army Men 3D. Also, expected differences between the PlayStation and N64 versions, such as improved sound and CG movies between levels, are of course present.
You probably won't need to get close to too many troops though, since the autotargeting is set so you can pick off enemies situated in towers simply by firing in their general direction. That was in place in Army Men 3D, but you weren't really able to get away with just running around blasting opposing forces because you'd get eaten up by machine-gun fire. Now, while enemies still fall with one or two shots, your character is a lot tougher, and health-restoring power-ups can be found all over the place. One pitfall that you'll have to worry about though is that you'll stumble upon an odd patch of land where the collision detection has decided to go wonky, and while you are trying to unstick yourself, you might get mowed down by a machine gunner. This is a strange but real concern.
Somehow the graphics in Army Men: Sarge's Heroes for the PlayStation have turned out worse than in the original game. Pop-up and fog are plentiful, the textures are repeated often, and the world generally looks very sparse and bland. Instances where you'll end up floating in midair or observe enemies walking through buildings are frequent. The sound effects are also similarly bad. Explosions, weapon fire, and your character's Duke Nukem-esque chatter all sound muffled, and the military-themed music is tinny. The multiplayer mode has been trimmed back to two players from the N64's four, taking any fun out of it. .
Those hoping for a more polished sequel to Army Men 3D will be disappointed to hear that this title is even more shoddily produced than the original and that it retains little of its embarrassing charm. Within minutes of playing Army Men: Sarge's Heroes, you will be surprised at what Sony will approve for final release these days.