Men of War: Vietnam Review (PC)

Game Review: Men of War: Vietnam (PC)
Release: September 9th, 2011
Genre: Real-Time Tactical (RTT)/Action
Developer: 1C
Available Platforms: PC
Players: 1-4
MSRP: $35 for Standard Edition, $40 for Special Edition
ESRB Rating: Teen

The Men of War series is a unique one. They are not quite RTS’s or action games. They are overambitious, incredibly detailed, wide-open battles of insanity. You don’t build units or a base like in a traditional RTS. When a mission starts you are given a set of units, and the game plays similar to a RTT game. What is great about the Men of War series is that there is no constriction. Men, tanks, boats, tucks, planes, artillery; all were in your command. In past games missions have had you leading entire armies into battle or sneaking in a individual squad for infiltration and sabotage. No matter what size force you were commanding you could still micromanage to the smallest detail. Each unit in your 100+ troop army had an individual inventory and equipment, each one could be commanded with the Direct Control mode which lets you aim and move any unit yourself, letting you get more personally involved with the battle. You were the commander and the foot soldier all at once, and the last three games in the series all followed this formula and found great success.

But not this time. Wait, what? Your telling me the expansive and unconstricted gameplay style that flocked fans to this unique series suddenly disappeared?

Well, not entirely, but stay with me. You can still control each unit individually if you want to, and modify his inventory how you like, but the large size battles are gone. Forget massive coordinated strikes, forget armored detachments and sweeping assaults. You get a squad. That’s right, one squad. In both the Vietnamese and American campaigns each mission starts out almost exactly the same. You get 4 or 5 guys to start out with, and for almost every mission that’s what you end with… assuming they didn’t all die. Once in a while you will get another group of units, or even a truck, and even more rarely a tank. The helicopters, which are new to this entry, are not usable by the player at all, only being accessible to the AI or for calling in air strikes. The balance has been forgotten, instead of a mix of missions covering different combinations of units, every mission in Vietnam keeps it simple. This is similar to the style used in Men of War: Assault Squad, which was also a departure from the series and featured mechanics closer to a RTS. But Men of War: Vietnam simply took everything out like Assault Squad did, but forgot to put other stuff in.

This leaves the game with an empty feeling. You always feel bare, vulnerable, and the Game Over screen can appear at any time. With such a small force the feeling of combat is never truly captured, and instead of creating a deep and fun war game, 1C has just created a repetitive and stressful one that punishes deviation with instant failure. 1C developed this game on their own, and they don’t seem to have the same finesse in crafting missions. Since you are limited to infantry units almost exclusively, the dynamic of the game changes quite a bit. You can no longer use tanks to break through areas guarded by mounted machine guns or snipers, or use light armor to quickly charge into an enemy base. However the game does not account for this. While you have a significantly compromised force the enemy is still playing with a full army. Its like playing rock,paper,scissors, except the person you are playing with gets to use all three at once. For people not familiar to the way the Men of War series plays, its set up to be equal, meaning that your units are no stronger than the enemies units. You are not commanding a super team that can get blasted with a million rounds and be fine, your units can be killed in just one shot just like the units you are fighting. This makes it difficult to take on 100 or more enemy units with less than ten of your own.

There is no learning curve or ramping difficulty, from the first mission you will need to be a Men of War expert. From there on it will only get worse, with missions capitalizing on the worst aspects of the game, such as missions based around using stealth, which is a completely broken system; or instituting mechanics that are completely opposite of what the series teaches you. Unique additions to the Vietnam game, such as booby traps, are equally annoying. Punji stick pits are scattered about randomly, sometimes directly near main paths, and when you order your entire squad to move somewhere the default AI pathing will cause them to walk into them and immediately die. By putting you in charge of a small squad, MOW: Vietnam also hopes to instill the strong squad loyalty many Vietnam games try to capitalize on, however they characters lack any depth and since they are so fragile it makes them seem disposable.

Looks like the AI had a lot of fun with those vehicles... If only I could use some...

All past Men of War games have featured medics with special equipment that can revive dead soldiers, it would seem to be a no-brainer to include this functionality in MOW: Vietnam seeing as you control such a small squad. Yet I never saw one medic, so when a soldier dies, he is dead. This mean losing even one soldier is a massive handicap to your fighting power. The AI has never been amazing in Men of War, so unless you constantly micro manage your troops you are sure to lose them to poor pathing or slow reaction times. Since it can take just one shot to kill, you need super-human skill to help your team survive.

The Vietnam setting also feels completely empty. The maps are mainly forests and small bases, with no unique set pieces that take advantage of the jungle setting. It would have been nice to see a waterfall, or a lusher look for the jungle, but nothing about the graphics stood out at all.

Past games in the series featured a wealth of content, for both single player and multiplayer. With Men of War: Vietnam however, is available in two different versions, one of which is lacking in content. The standard version is available for $34.99, it has 5 mission for the American campaign, and 5 missions for the Vietnamese campaign, as well as online cooperative multiplayer that allows you to play with friends. For another $5 you can upgrade to the Special Edition, which adds in an additional 5 missions and adversarial multiplier – which has been included for free in every past series. Those exclusions are pretty massive, effectively leaving 50% of the game out of the Standard Edition. This move is quite disheartening, why create this two version scheme? Luckily you can buy the Special Edition Upgrade as DLC anytime so you can get the extra stuff, but as a consumer it’s still off-putting (not to mention the copy provided was the Standard Edition, so I cannot even vouch for the quality of the extra content, but I bet it’s safe to assume it’s as sub-par as the rest of the game).

Overall Men of War: Vietnam is a complete disappointment. Everything from the main mechanics down to the little things, like the worse than normal voice acting (with the terribly contrived “Asian” accents..) and typo filled text. It’s such a letdown to see the game fail on even the most basic levels. I have played and beaten every Men of War game up to this point, but Vietnam gave me an incredibly hard time, even on easy difficulty on the hardest level. The gameplay is just too shallow and the missions too difficult to recommend this purchase. Men of War: Vietnam is available now on Steam and other digital distribution services for $35/$40 if you really want it, but I recommend skipping this tour and picking up one of the cheaper and better entries in the series.

– Poorly designed missions are boring and difficult
– Game doesn’t utilize many units
– “Special Edition” of the game contains a lot more content, forcing users into a upgrade scheme

5/10, on further consideration I must change this score to a 1/10, this game has no redeeming qualities.

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  • Kastrenzo

    This game is an insult to the franchise, if this is the Direction 1C and BestWay want to take with Men of War, I will be abandoning the franchise. this was an embarrasment

  • Spoon

    it’s awful – don’t make the same mistake i did – do not buy!

  • JBLaughs

    This game was terrible. I cant believe i wasted $30 on this garbage game. Almost every mission is 4 men VS an entire army so you have to force yourself to play just hoping it will get better. NOTHING like the amazing original Men of War at all!

  • Mark10105

    While I completely agree with review, I have to remind that Best Way has nothing to do with this game – it was done solely by 1C – BW only provided game engine.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you for the note, I have made a correction 

  • Unimpressed

    Wow that’s very mature – This website removes comments that don’t agree with the reviews?

    Way to go guys, you just made your site even less trustworthy.

    • Steve519

      Not a single comment has been removed. So I guess this makes your comments less trustworthy 🙂

    • Anonymous

      I have had issues with the site not posting my own comments, I would attribute it to random bugs. Rest assured we have no interest in deleting your comments even if you disagree with the article.

  • Unimpressed

    Well I posted it, I saw it displayed – 2 Hours later it was gone…But I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and I’ll post it again shall I?

    At first I was shocked to see such a low overall score – I was worried there was something fundamentally wrong with the game itself…But after reading the review I realise the problem is the reviewer, not the game.

    Aside from the fact you’ve got a gamer who is a racing game fan and someone who plays action RPG/FPS titles and not RTS titles, you’ve also got someone who appears to have very little knowledge of the origin of the series, yet for some reason he claims to be an expert…

    The series did not start with Men of War, it started with Heroes: Soldiers of WW2, a game centered around playing with a small team of units against large forces – From here we move on to Faces of War, and then there is MoW – The reviewer here clearly expected MoW scale of combat, ignoring the press releases or information on the Vietnam title.  Coupled with the fact he doesn’t mention the roots of the franchise at all, I fail to see why anyone should take this review seriously.

    Fans of the actual original game, have had no trouble playing this and many people were waiting for a non-MP centered title.  Assault Squad left the SP fans wanting some decent missions and none of this “skirmish” stuff – Yet when 1C deliver such a title, you get the MP players whining about missing out – Which is why they delayed the game a few months to add some MP features and (very rightly so in my opinion) decided to charge more for this.

    Then there is the comment on punji sticks – First Mr Lynch is complaining that they removed features and “forgot to put other stuff in” then he’s complaining about the stuff they DID put in.

    Pathfinding is not an issue in this game, while it is indeed broken and useless it is not worth mentioning as most people are wise enough to not use it and instead play the game like it was meant to be played and not like your average RTS title when you move a unit from A to B and watch him handle the rest.  The game is all about micro-management, I would have thought a fan of the series would know this?…

    There’s a lot more I could complain about, but I don’t want to waste my time or anyone who botheres to reads this.

    The reviewer was a poor choice, and as a result you’ve got an article which I would strongly urge people to ignore and instead seek a review from other sources.
    I agree the game isn’t perfect, and personally I too would like a game that more closely resembles the first MoW title – But so much of this review is either wrong, nonsensical or just pointless (complaining about the voice acting? really..?)

    • Anonymous

      While my bio does say i like racing games and fps that is not all I play. The bio is just meant for a short blurb. I guess I could tell you about all the years i have spent playing the Command and Conquer: Red Alert series and the first Starcraft and go on about all the other RTS games ive played, but then my bio would be longer than the review.

      I am fairly well-versed in RTS games and I would consider myself even more well-versed in the Men of War series. I own all the previous games on Steam and have put over 130hrs into them. I am aware of the prequels that proceeded the existence of the Men of War series, however I did not think this was relevant for the review. I have played Soldiers of WW2 and it is not like this game, maybe Faces of War is.

      But to take the Men of War series (which while it originated from those games, is still a different series with different characteristics) and change it so substantially is a poor move. The original men of war is VERY single player oriented and was done much better. You can still have missions that are not skirmished based that use a wide variety of units and incorporate armor. Men of War: Red Tide took the infantry based combat further and featured a lot of infantry only and sneak missions, and did it MUCH better.

      This game does not do it well at all. Men of War:Vietnam’s infantry only missions are not only a poor premise but are poorly done. 

      Addressing the complaint of adding/removing features:
      What I was referring to was this game compared to Men of War Assault Squad. MoW:AS featured basic skirmish missions and a shorter campaign, but ADDED a unique mechanic, which was the more traditional RTS-style unit buying. While they TOOK away scripted missions they ADDED a new mechanic.

      Obviously Men of War:Vietnam has new features(especially if you are going to break it down so simply as to insinuate that the punji sticks are a feature, creating invisible sprites that kill your unit instantly is not a feature in my definition). New graphics such as the palm trees and Vietnamese soldiers are obviously new, but that is not substantial. What I would like to see is some improvement in actual mechanics. For instance, if you are going to create a stealth based mission how bout fixing the stealth mechanic.

      The Vietnamese mission where you sneak into the american base at night is the crappiest thing I have played in the Men of War series. It asks you to sneak through a base littered with enemies, but good luck, because only one of your soldiers has a silenced weapon, and the enemies can see him through walls. Also note that all the objectives are surrounded in sand bags that your unit cant figure out how to walk around.

      I know the pathing in MoW games arent intended for large moves. But I would expect that if I highlight my 6 troop squad and ask them to move 50ft down a path that they could do it without straying into the foliage and dying instantly. Any game where i need to individually move all 6 guys is poorly made.

      And yes I think the voice acting is worth noting when its borderline racist. Its one thing when 1C/Best Way to bad or stereotypical Russian voice acting – they are Russian. But when they do crappy broken engrish for Vietnamese characters its offensive. You can have low-rent voice acting that isnt stereotypical.

      I could go on about the many faults of this game but there is no need to. This game is poorly made, regardless of the attempted direction. If it was a good infantry-based game I would have no complaints, but it isnt. Its a bad game no matter how you look at it. In retrospect I should have given the game an even lower score.

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