Hands On With Men Of War: Vietnam

By Jim Rossignol on July 28th, 2011 at 10:08 pm.

The men are in Vietnam for their latest war.
This week I’ve been submerged in the murky jungle waters of forthcoming real-time tiny-men commander, Men Of War: Vietnam. 1c sent over four levels from the full game, and I’ve played through them. I’ve given a little overview of each of these level below, and have discovered that my description represents a sort of plan of the increasing degrees of excitement that I am experiencing. In fact, I’ve drawn a graph.

Here is my graph of excitement over time for the four level preview build of Men Of War: Vietnam that was sent to us by 1c.


The levels, as you might have been able to interpret from my infographical illustration, are called “Until The Trouble Troubles You”, “Gatecrashers”, “What A Job!” And “Die Hard Attack”.

Let me tell you about them.

Until The Trouble Troubles You troubles me. It’s a level where you have a small squad and are required to infiltrate a base, kill some dudes, knock out an enemy helicopter, and then escape in a stolen vehicle. It’s a tall order, and frankly I found it a bit of a task. The stealth systems in Men Of War do work, sort of, but only after a fashion. It’s often difficult to precisely determine when you are going to be spotted, and setting off lots of enemies and getting suddenly murdered is a clear problem. It made my heart sink a bit from its usual peppy buoyancy. What does seem promising from this first taste of the game, however, is the jungle environment. I am not sure I prefer it to 1940s towns and shattered Russian villages, but the game pulls it out without a hitch, vegetation sprawling everywhere. Great!

Anyway, having begun this troubling level thinking “hmm, I don’t like these small squad stealth missions much”, I am pleased that it’s actually pretty meticulously constructed. I could probably have done with a bit more room to flank the enemy base, however.

I should note, at this point, that the voice-acting is terrible, too, which seems faithful to the Men Of War experience. I jotted down “voice acting terrible” in my notepad, and that’s /good thing/.


By the time I hit level two, “Gatecrashers”, I was feeling more confident that the game would throw interesting things at me. For this second level it’s a classic base defence of the kind that Men Of War does really well. American enemies are attacking and you’ve got to use tanks and infantry together to hold off the assault. There’s an extra element in there for this one: spotters. These are dudes with binoculars who need to be killed to stop the Americans calling in air support on you. Taking them out is essential, or you get F4s dropping bombs on you, which does not help with victory.

As the level goes on, however, I find it a bit of a grind. Hmm. That’s not like me and Men Of War, we made for grind. But then I guess this new experience of the tiny heroes is being contrasted against my recent experience of the insane 30-minute defence scenarios from the Assault Squad DLC, against which this seems a bit tame and muddy. Hmm.

LEVEL THREE. Eugh, this DOES look depressing. You play as an American patrol which has to go into Vietnamese villages looking for Vietcong sympathisers. You get ambushed and kill the ambushers. Lots more jungly fighting follows, along with some fighting in Vietnamese villages. It’s hard work, and morally quease-inducing. And where are my tanks? This is not where Men Of War shines.


Fortunately we can back out of these squalid squad-based rat tunnels and move on to the aptly titled Die Hard Attack. Die Hard Attack! You can imagine what this might be. It echoes a number of the best levels from the World War II Men Of Wars, and it’s a huge assault scenario that starts small and blossoms into a field of rosy explosions. Essentially, there’s a single road to get your forces up into enemy hilltop defences, but it’s mined, and you have to knock out machinegun nests if you’re going to be able to clear the mines and hit the dug in force with your main attack. This means that the level starts out as a small recon-unit flanking attack, and then unfolds into a huge assault that sprawls into the enemy fortifications. Yeah, you can imagine what I made of that. But it’s not just that you get to roll out the big guns – there’s real tension at the start as you try to winkle a hidden sniper out from the jungle. He’s invisible, and you basically need to triangulate to catch him. Men Of War is best when the battles are evolving and sprawling and messy, and need to bodged to victory through lots of fiddly direct control, but there are little scripted touches in some of these maps that are just icing on the battlecake.

Despite this high point, I should say that the graph cannot be take as truly representative of my Men Of War: Vietnam experience. Overall, I would say, it has me feeling pretty sceptical. It can be difficult to get the Vietnam setting right, and the ethics of the situation are far less clear cut than, say, games set in the Second World War. While the game has clearly managed to create some interesting scenarios that show off armour and so forth, and I am still a bit less enthused about this than I am the skirmishy enormities of Assault Squad, That’s precisely because I think what the Men Of War games do best is the escalation from A Few Good Men to A Fucking Load Of Tanks, and all the sprawling quasi-simulatory battlefield messiness that goes in between. That works better in World War II than it does here. It’d be really interesting to see it wind back to World War I, perhaps, or sidestep genres into spacewar.


Also, Vietnam doesn’t feel like – and just isn’t – a sequel. Not really. It’s a standalone expansion, like all the other Men of War bits we’ve seen the past couple of years. The formula is unchanged – for the better, some might argue – but still unchanged. That said, there do seem to be some visual tweaks and a few new effects here and there. It’s cosmetic stuff, but it means they’re doing more than just pumping out new maps. Whether we’ll get a genuinely new iteration of Men Of War soon, I have no idea. But I hope.

To sum up, then:

  • Preview excitement ends on a high, but it’s been a rough road.
  • Historical accuracy might be a bit dodgy. There’s a pretty heavy Russian presence in the game, which I am not really sure represents quite how much influence the Soviets had in the region. North Korea and China make sense, but the Russian missions seem more like they are made up to appeal to a Russian audience. That’s fine, I like playing Russians.
  • I’m not sure I like Vietnam as a setting.
  • The big assault on DIE HARD ATTACK is just glorious, and suggests that this is probably going to be another wonky classic of real-time strategy. I look forward to getting my hands on the full thing when it arrives on October 29th.

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63 Comments »

  1. Stranglove says:

    Important question: was the aim ever really in the reach zone?

    • westyfield says:

      I came here to ask just that. The world needs to know!
      Edit: Aha! On closer inspection of the trailer posted above, at 0:29, aim is in the reach zone. This is Good News.

    • Rinox says:

      I will miss the German soldiers’ lines.

      “Ich will nicht sterben!!”

  2. cjlr says:

    I can’t see ethics making too much of a difference. In the other games you can play as Nazis.

    My friends and I have actually had really great times with the commando-style missions from the first game in co-op. It’s such a different experience from the all-out balls to the wall of most of Assault Squad. Anyone know if the single player missions will be co-op-able?

    • sinister agent says:

      Nazi or not, you’re at least fighting national army against national army in WW2 games. Take away the politics and it’s just armies going at each other. In Vietnam games though, it’s guerilla warfare. It’s a lot messier and morally blurrier – you or your enemies aren’t guys in uniform, but guys dressed the same as, and standing next to, innocent civilians.

      It’s just a bit … hm. I’m struggling to find the word, but I can see why it’d make people more uncomfortable.

    • cjlr says:

      I don’t know what word you’re looking for either, but I do know what you mean. But it’s war, and so obviously a whole bunch of horrible shit is going to happen. An RTS by its nature presents a clean, relatively abstract interpretation of any conflict – consider Men of War itself, and all the urban maps with zero civilians. For a game, all we need is for these guys to fight those guys. From a gameplay point of view, any asymmetrical factors would make things much more complicated and much more interesting.

      And yet, naturally it’s more uncomfortable to play the further down the depths of humanity we can simulate. I just don’t find the difference between the representation of WWII in Men of War, and Vietnam in MoW:Vietnam, to be a big leap. There was plenty of partisan and guerilla fighting in WWII as well. Men of War portrays only the fights between armies – and what I know of MoW:Vietnam is that it does the same, sticking to more conventional fighting between the NVA (with Chinese and Soviet ‘advisors’) versus SVA, the USA, and allies.

    • GT3000 says:

      It’s an uncomfortable setting because its a morally gray one. WWII suffers little on running out of moral currency. Nazis are bad, Allies good. Vietnam is so complicated and jarring. Never mind attitudes prevailing in the conflict.

    • Okami says:

      @sinister agent: The campaign waged against the USSR by the german Wehrmacht wasn’t just another war, it was a war of extermination. Wherever the germans went, they murdered, tortured and deported hundreds of thousands. The large scale extermination of the local population was one of the war’s goals. The Wehrmacht faced attacks by partisans in almost every country they invaded and usually responded to such attacks by wiping out whole towns and villages in retaliation. You can’t “take away the politics” from WW2 (apart from the fact that the notion of “taking away the politics” from any war might just be the most naive thing I’ve heard in a long time).

      There never was and never will be a clean war where terrible atrocities weren’t commited by either side and WW2 might just be the worst example of one.

    • sinister agent says:

      I’m well aware of that, and I’m quite sure you know full well what I mean when said ‘taking the politics out’. That’s precisely what almost every war and strategy game set in the real world has done for many years (there is no Dresden in video game Germany), and condescending to me won’t change that. Kindly get off your soapbox.

      @cjlr – I don’t disagree with any of that. As I haven’t played this game I obviously can’t comment in detail, but it’s interesting to note that Jim Rossignol made a point of its being a little uncomfortable compared to the WW2 ones.

  3. Hensler says:

    I have no interest in the Vietnam war, so I hope this sells well and leads the way to Men of Warfare: Modern Combat or something of the like. There just aren’t enough RTS game with a modern setting, but this series is at least heading the right direction on the timeline.

    • cjlr says:

      The problem with a modern setting is that, even more so than Vietnam, you have a damn hard time finding something that’s even remotely balanced. And while I for one would actually play a game that was, for example, in Balkans, the Congo, Lebanon, I doubt any western publishers would touch that with a fifty foot pole.

      One option is a fictional hot cold war, like World in Conflict – but, there’s already World in Conflict.

    • Gundato says:

      Oooh. OFP/ArmA and Men of War crossover! Hee hee hee.

      Which I guess would just be ArmA with hats. And would be the best game ever…

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      cljr: or Belfast, ferinstance…

    • Hensler says:

      I actually play ARMA II as an RTS sometimes :).

      And I wouldn’t really consider World In Conflict to be modern – it’s set in the late 80′s, and some of the units are old even for that time period. There is an absolutely brilliant Modern Combat mod for World in Conflict, however. Endwar gets a bit science fiction-y in places, but thats the best example of a recent, AAA strategy game I can think of with modern units. On the lower-budget side, Close Combat and Combat Mission series have both had some decent, in-the-present games.

  4. Mike says:

    Everything you say makes a lot of sense (superb RPS infographic incidentally, the WOO/TIME relationship is a tricky one to represent well) and I think it’s comforting to know that MoW2 is on the horizon in case this doesn’t end up being amazing.

    How bad is the morally-questionable stuff, though? We’ve had a lot of morally-questionable stuff in games over the years, I’m interested that you brought it up here specifically. Does it ask you to do things that are overly specific? Is it the equivalent of a concentration camp mission in MoW, or not as bad?

  5. SAeN says:

    It comes with the usual co-op I hope?

  6. Jimbo says:

    Sounds great. I always preferred the smaller scale of Soldiers (and to a lesser extent Faces) over the craziness of Men of War.

    • Carra says:

      Yeah, me too. Soldiers shined when playing with a squad of around 4 soldiers or 2 tanks. Then you could direct control one unit and the others would still be useful.

      Then again in Men of War my little soldiers seem to be a bit more clever and need less babysitting.

  7. Tim James says:

    Most of the time I’m happy to put up with the negatives and inconsistencies of European games to get to the good parts. But I’ve never felt compelled to play another Men of War game after the first. Maybe the highs weren’t high enough for me personally.

  8. Vinraith says:

    I quite like the tactical gameplay in these, but I wish they’d move away from linear, story-driven campaigns. Something along the lines of the dynamic campaign mod, cleaned up and made official (and supporting co-op!), would be worlds better.

    • Rich says:

      Being allowed to lose a mission without having to do it again would be good too.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Rich

      Yes, always. The approach of the later Close Combat games (or the new remakes) to campaign-level decision making is really the way to go with something like this, IMO. It’s an almost criminal waste to tie it to a “lose = restart” linear campaign, strategic consequence is so much more interesting.

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      X-Com style. We should make the Gollops make more games.

    • Alphabet says:

      I love this series of games except for the Commandos-style missions. Those I can barely get through, and I think I’ve left each game in the series so far incomplete after failing a Commandos-style mission for the third or fourth time. The big battles, though, are truly incredible.

    • malkav11 says:

      I would like them to do a campaign of that sort at some point, certainly, but my first love will always be big sprawling scripted campaigns.

    • Wilson says:

      @malkav11 – Fair enough, but if there’s no persistence between levels, it isn’t really a campaign, just a selection of scenarios that you play in a certain order. If the campaign had some branches, or some way that your performance in one mission would impact your options and objectives in the next, that would be nice.

      Another thing I find is that the missions with small squads can be irritating in co-op, especially with no quick-save in multiplayer. I’ve been having more fun with the Assault Squad missions because you generally don’t suddenly lose through bad luck and have to start all over again.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      There was a dynamic campaign mod, I think, but it wasn’t very good.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Jim Rossignol

      Yeah, and IIRC the devs have said they’d like to do something along those lines themselves in a future title. I hope they do, I must admit that I’ve no use for linear campaigns with unconnected missions, so if that’s all Vietnam is I guess I won’t pick it up.

    • sinister agent says:

      All this talk of dynamic campaigns reminds me that I still haven’t played Achtung Panzer. That sounded like it might scratch that itch perfectly. Am I mistaken?

      In fact it’s on sale on Impulse AT THIS VERY MOMENT. SHOUTING HAPPENS FOR A WHILE NOW.

      Ahem. Excuse me.

  9. Rich says:

    Ah yes. It’s just not a 1C Company game if it isn’t voiced by a bunch of random people pulled in off the street, reading the script for the first time ever as if it’s the instruction book for an alarm clock.
    …a boring beeping alarm clock, mind. Not even a radio alarm clock.

  10. Gnoupi says:

    Needs more QFSAA.

    • Vinraith says:

      I was always partial to QFASA myself, for the spacebaring possibilities. Nevertheless, you sir win an internets.

    • westyfield says:

      Yeah, QFASA is where it’s at. Though when in ‘Nam, QFDWFF is very important.

    • BeamSplashX says:

      I’m more of a QWERTY man, myself.

  11. felisc says:

    argh, Vietnam again.

    • Rich says:

      Best sound track of any conflict in human history though.

    • Teddy Leach says:

      Let’s be fair, we hardly ever see a Vietnam RTS.

    • felisc says:

      true.
      also i’m certain italo disco was played heavily in submarines during falklands war. it had to be.

    • cjlr says:

      You can’t play music in a submarine! Think of the noise!

      Gulf War 1 had 80s metal in the tanks; that’s no 60s/70s, but still…

    • KingJason13 says:

      They played Slayer’s War Ensemble over loudspeakers on the tanks during Gulf War 1… ala Flight of the Valkyries in Apocalypse Now!!! How cool is that!?!

    • Deaden says:

      Let’s be honest, there aren’t actually a whole lot of Vietnam games AT ALL. Seriously, compare it to WWII or Modern War. The only good one around right now, is just an expansion of a multiplayer game. Haven’t played Blops, but it didn’t interest me a whole lot.

      Controversy aside, ‘Nam was a awesome era for weaponry. The grittiness of the war, and the rockin’ tunes make for a sweet, retro atmosphere.

    • Xercies says:

      I want to play Guarilla Warfare though, we don’t get enough of those!

  12. AllahuAkbar says:

    What I like most about this is that you can play as the good guys, usually you can only play as a sanitized version of americans, without the dropping napalm on children parts. Probably I’ll buy it even though I didn’t like the first MoW that much.

  13. gornmyson says:

    The tank in the top most screen shot seems to be firing sparkles of death.

    It sounds to me like this is missing the part of MoW assault squad that i enjoy the most.. the escalation already mentioned… i do tend to find that by the time you have massive artillery you too close to make the best use of it though..

    colour me mildy interested, anyway.

  14. Rinox says:

    More MoW is always good. Assault Squad is pretty much the holy grail in terms of deep RTS gameplay + co-op, but still, I’m looking forward to Vietnam.

    Silly question: can you actually commandeer any helicopters? Unlikely knowing the MoW engine, but I gotta ask anyway!

  15. JNewt says:

    You play as an American patrol which has to go into Vietnamese villagers

    Looking for “sympathizers,” no less.

    • GT3000 says:

      Using torches and bullets to encourage a change of heart or at least a replacement.

    • Schmouddle says:

      It was called a “Zippo treatment”.

  16. WPUN says:

    Hands On With Men Of War: Vietnam? Wasn’t that the name of a China Beach episode?

  17. sonicblastoise says:

    Every time I play this game it makes me want to yell, “GET DOWN. GET DOWN. SHOOT! GET DOWN! DAMNIT!”

    And then I quit and remember what a good time I had.

  18. Real Horrorshow says:

    Looks awesome.

    Still waiting patiently for the first good Vietnam fps campaign.

  19. thebigJ_A says:

    Men of War: Crimea will be better.

  20. Shodex says:

    LOL, funny of Men of War for making a Magicka spoof. Clever job guys.

  21. The Innocent says:

    This is the first Men of War game that I’m not particularly excited for.

  22. Schmouddle says:

    Now the question is…is there an aerial part of the warfare? You know…scouts (OH-6A) down low searching for Charlie, guns up high (AH-1) covering them, Hueys loaded with ARP’s, Australian FAC’s in Army Broncos stacking Spads and fast movers above the VC/NVA basecamps found, and those Spads/fastmovers ready to roll on smoke or Willy Pete. Arc Light missions….

    Uh and napalm..I love the smell of napalm in the morning….

  23. max pain says:

    Battlecake.

  24. pagad says:

    This looks good, but I regret to say I’ve been put off Men of War by the fact that all my tanks tend to spontaneously explode when I pay attention to something else for a split second.

    • Rinox says:

      I know the feeling. Try using them for defensive backup of your AT guns – that should save you a lot of trouble. Incoming armor will shoot at them (AT guns) first, while your tank can provide extra cover from behind.

      Position them between trees/shrubs, and when you see an enemy tank incoming make sure they start loading AP shells before it gets in range.

      Once you gain some ground and have, say, a row of house to take cover behind, put tanks on the left and right flanks of the battlefield, so you can intercept incoming enemy tanks in the centre immediately with shots in their flanks (so you have the element of surprise, are positioned with your think front armor towards them AND they have to take the time to actually turn their turret towards you).

  25. Brutal Deluxe says:

    Can someone recommend a MOW game to get into? Consider that I’m a DOW2 fan.

  26. llfoso says:

    I didn’t know this game existed. I must try it.
    Is it anything like CoH?

  27. dellphukof says:

    Take command of one of these notorious companies and lead it to victory against all odds through most of the war on the Eastern front. Fight from desperate battles in 1942 in the area of Volyn in the Ukraine, to the massive operation “Bagration” in the Brest area, Magnush bridgehead and Warsaw area in Poland and finally to attacks on the German Altdam and Stettin near the end of the war.seo service