Vietcong 2

12The decidedly last-gen technology of Vietcong 2 is all the more conspicuous when you can see it trying so hard to be like Medal of Honor, straining after urban battlegrounds. It simply can’t manage the spectacle with the level of detail and special effects we’ve come to expect. The character models and animations are creepy up close and clunky from far away. The token physics tricks all but stand up and announce themselves.

Vietcong 2 also loses sight of a lot of what worked in the first game, which had a tight, intimate focus on a small squad of men in the jungle. But now you’re pushing through the ruined, smoking streets of Hue, often alongside a tank or in the company of a gaggle of anonymous friendly soldiers, clearing up ruined buildings from one canned encounter to the next. Remember when you had to rely on your own skills and a couple of buddies watching out for you? Those were the days, and they’re long gone.

Vietcong 2 takes an interesting route by giving you mission from the side of the enemy. The Vietcong campaign eases you into a storyline that progresses from shooting ARVN troops to shooting U.S. Marines to shooting the survivors of a helicopter you just shot down. It’s subversive and unsettling in a way you can’t get in narrative-free games like the Battlefield series.

It’s bold enough that it makes you wonder why Pterodon didn’t just make the whole game from the Vietcong perspective. Maybe they thought we wouldn’t want to play that, and maybe they were right. But this is at last a new story, miles, decades, and entire mindsets away from the WWII war-movie rah-rahing that echoes through our first-person shooters. Unfortunately, it ends far too soon, having barely made its point before retiring and leaving you with little to do but resort to playing the shallow multiplayer.

System Requirements: Pentium IV 2 GHz, 512 MB RAM, WinXP

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