The First Level Of Men Of War: Vietnam

By Jim Rossignol on September 8th, 2011 at 11:49 am.

No, sir. No.
I’d planned to have a review of Men Of War: Vietnam up for its release tomorrow, but I won’t be able to. The reason is it has taken the majority of my time for this review getting past the first level. I know, I know, games journalists are terrible at games, but I’ve long taken sad pride in being a bit more hardcore in my tastes and abilities than my peers, and I absolutely love the Men of War games. This time, however, I am slamming my tiny fists down on the table in indignation. I won’t admit defeat, of course, but there it is: this one is too hard, and I am cross. I’ve been chatting to Tim Stone (who is also playing the game for another publication) and he’s long past that first level, leaving me in his dust. Nevertheless he too admits that the difficulty of the full game is “mad”, which does not bode well for my overall consternation. And I envy the brain that could get through this baffling exercise in frustration. Let me explain a bit more about it, below.

I’d had a go at this level when I looked at the preview code – which contains levels that were a lot more entertaining, and which I’d like to be play again – but when this first bit of the game got too hard I just moved on to one of the other samples, figuring I’d come back to it when I reviewed the full game. I did, of course, because it’s the first level. It begins easily enough: hide in the jungle to avoid being blown up by a passing helicopter, kill the infantry patrol. That’s pretty much teaching you what you need to know to complete the level. These are its principles, and that’s great.

The story is that my group of Russian advisors are trying to escape the scene of an attack on their convoy with a Vietcong ally. This means there are just four of you, but you’re pretty well armed. Sniping from the jungle will be my most potent ability. Play very cautiously and your men will barely even come under fire. Or that’s the idea.


I continue to the first objective, which is to take out a hilltop camp full of American soldiers. Easily done. From there we have to tackle a bridge so that we can get into a camp full of soldiers to steal a truck. That has to be done without alerting the body of the camp’s men, because if that happens the chopper pilots will run to their Hueys and we’ll have to spend the rest of the game hiding in the jungle to avoid being slaughtered by rockets from the sky. I get past the bridge by sniping away the guards, and then put my men in the jungle on the other side of the river. From there I spend a couple of hours just trying to figure out how to neutralise the helicopters without dying. There are patrols and guards all around the camp, and I start by meticulously trying to take all these out. Sadly, however, after an hour of this I am unable to do it in a way that doesn’t set the helicopters off. Reloading, reloading, reloading. I decide, instead, to try to take out the chopper pilots. I send a guy back across the river to get some RPGs that were in an ammo pile, and I creep onto a nearby hillock and blast the chopper pilots with the RPG. Brilliant, I think. But then the Hueys take off anyway, and everyone dies.

Hmm. I look closer. There is a second group of pilots, out of range of the RPG, and not in a position to be sniped, either. Ok, screw it, I’ll just have to keep to the jungle and just deal with the fact that the rest of the game will have my four men being hunted by heavily-armed helicopters. Time to get that truck! I work my way closer and closer to the truck. Eventually I just send a guy to run and jump into it, hoping I can hotrod my way out of the base. At this point the game autosaves and says “hey, these trucks are all broken!” and a fog of war lifts, revealing a boat we can steal, back on the other side of the river. You mean that boat that my dudes had not seen, but can now see somehow, but that is MUCH closer to where I started? That lightly guarded boat that is a much easier proposition for escape than the intensely defended base I have been trying to get into?


Ok, fine. I tramp back over the bridge, and take out the boat’s guards. There’s no fuel in the boat, of course, so we’ll need to look for that. My team all die. Why? Ah, because of those helicopters. I realise, suddenly, that the helicopters don’t make any noise. I can’t tell if they’re approaching unless I stare constantly at the mini-map. Eventually I survive three chopper attacks and search the area in which there is supposed to be fuel. There isn’t any. The objective pointer is pointing back at the heavily defended base I just left.

No thanks.

Sorry, Men Of War, but this is where even my patience starts to run out. I’ve got Rock Of Ages next on my list of games to play, and that is already feeling like a direct antidote the frustration I feel here. My sense of this game is that it’s great that the Men Of War engine can cope with foliage enough to represent a jungle. It doesn’t, however, make me want to continue playing when I can’t see what I’m doing, or when the difficult and incoherence of the missions match those of the actual war. If what I am faced with is more save-game attrition, and more barely being able to see the objective for the trees then no. I can’t take any more convoluted, uninspiring sneaking about. Bollocks to it. I’d rather play some more Assault Squad.

Men Of War: Vietnam is out tomorrow, and we’ll have a Wot I Think for it when I am feeling much less cranky.

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56 Comments »

  1. Brumisator says:

    *pours Jim a nice cup of tea*
    It’ll be okay, dearie.

  2. McDan says:

    So you could say… the fuel was not in the reach zone?

  3. Carra says:

    Soldiers: Heroes of WW2 was an amazing game. Lots of little soldiers each having their own guns, ammo and even hats. It had vehicles you can manually control with a full damage model (shoot the motor for instance), and you could use these vehicles to completely destroy buildings. Sure it was tough as nails, often criticized for its difficulty but I found that to be part of the fun. In short, one of the best games ever created.

    Everything after however mostly feels like expansion packs. Still fun of course but missing innovation. I hope that this new setting will bring some novelty into the game, it really needs it.

  4. lunarplasma says:

    I actually expected Jim to do quite well.
    Jim, I am disappoint.

  5. Nallen says:

    *hug*

    Sounds fun. In the same way sticking a fork in my leg sounds fun.

  6. jti says:

    Sounds like a nightmare of a game design.

    • airtekh says:

      Indeed.

      I’m getting infuriated just reading about Jim’s efforts. I hate it when games do that: “Where is the magical McGuffin that we need to continue on to the next area? Oh, it just magically appeared behind us, in the area I just meticulously explored.”

      Bollocks.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Sure does. I can almost buy the idea of Hueys acting like gunships (which they weren’t, for the most part, they were transports and ambulances). But silent Hueys? Geez… I’ve been in one. You can hear them for miles. They never had the ability to magically see through jungle canopy either (grumble).

      This could have been an interesting game, even though it’s a bit close for comfort for my generation. Not sure if I’d enjoy playing either side unless it was tactically interesting. And this just sounds rigged, not tactically interesting. But I’ll read the final review.

    • Rii says:

      Hueys were totally used as gunships in Vietnam. Hell, the UH-1C was a dedicated gunship model!

    • Zenicetus says:

      @ Rii: notice I said “for the most part.” The Huey made a lousy gunship, which is why the Cobra and Apache were developed. With a couple of rocket pods tacked on, and no sophisticated imaging and targeting systems like later helos, it just wouldn’t have been all that dangerous for a group of Viet Cong using the jungles for cover. And it sure wouldn’t have been silent!

  7. ReV_VAdAUL says:

    Sounds like an inadvertent Apocalypse Now simulator. Confused and absurdly brutal warfare that makes no real sense.

  8. MrMud says:

    Is it no longer possible to slow down the game speed in single player?
    Because that was the only way I was able to make my way through the harder missions at the end of the first ones campaign.

    Playing a mission at a crawl is infinitely easier than at normal speed.

    Reading through the article properly I realise that this probably wouldnt have helped anything.

  9. Maldomel says:

    So you finally get a realistic wargame and you are not happy?

    Also, can’t you just shoot the damn choppers before they take off or something? Or shoot them while they fly?

  10. Silver says:

    You’re losing it Jim, you’re losing it…

    actually Assualt Squad was really really tough game which made me furious yet so happy when I beat some level. I played on hard settings (+1 from normal) and It was more a continous nightmare than enjoying a game.. but (!) suffering and _finally_ beating the mission makes it so worthwhile. Later using same tactics usually works easily.

    I tried co-op assualt squad with 3 players and it worked really nicely – you can micromanage. These games _should be_ co-opish more than single player – cause there is no fun to play on easiest settings (mindblock) and too much pause and slow-mooo playing solo and on normal.

    I hope there’s vietnam also for co-op – would be ubercool :)

  11. MrNice says:

    This is my problem with the Men of war games, as much as I love the game and the engine, there are very few missions that are worth replaying. I can’t count the number of times I started the game, only to find myself starring at the mission selection screen for 10 min without being able to find one that I want to (re)play.Defensive missions quickly turn into ammo manager, where you spend most of your time reloading MG and AT Gun. Offensive missions usually have only one angle of attack possible,flanking are rarely possible thus low replay value.

  12. Baka says:

    After watching some of the Developer MP Matches, I wonder if this increase in difficulty comes from the developers getting too good at their own game.
    Mission placement was always a bit … confusing in MoW, but this really sounds nightmarish.

  13. HexagonalBolts says:

    I found the original Men of War extraordinarily difficult even played in slow motion, I’m a very keen starcraft player with fairly good micro – which is normally way above par for any other RTS. Some levels required near constant re-loading and knowledge of what was going to happen in the future in advance, which I don’t think should ever be necessary.

  14. Jimbo says:

    Should be a blast in co-op then, with no saves available. I much prefer the small scale, Soldiers-esque missions though, so this sounds ace to me.

    I seem to remember the first (British) mission in Soldiers being one of the hardest in the game, which was something of an odd design choice. Maybe that will be true here too, and the difficulty will slacken off a bit in later missions.

    • Alphabet says:

      Huh. I much prefer the large-scale missions, the ones that are more Blitzkrieg than Commandos. Personally, I’d skip the latter ones, and you might skip some of the former. Maybe this series should bifurcate!

    • Ephaelon says:

      I also much prefer the smaller-squad tactics and micromanagement, like in SHOWWII and Silent Heroes. ie, Commandos style.

      I really hate the levels where I’m forced to command an entire army with constant reinforcements or what have you, that’s why I was never particularly turned on by Men of War and MoW:Assault Squad.

  15. CaspianRoach says:

    1c? Yeah, don’t expect quality games from them. IL-2 and King’s Bounty were but a fluke in the sea of horrible games, most of which didn’t even make it out of Russia’s bargain bins.

    • Gnoupi says:

      And Perimeter, and the Men of war games in general, Space Rangers 2, etc..

      There is a lot of trash, but there are some quality games, which are quite “unique”, as well.
      The only other publisher I can think of, with that kind of “original” games would be Paradox.

      But in the end, they are publishers, no need to write off a game only from the publisher’s name.

  16. Njordsk says:

    The fuel is a lie.

  17. johnpeat says:

    It’s taken this long for someone to write “The Horror, The Horror”??

  18. sbeats says:

    before reading this i watch a walkthrough of the mission and thought “looks pretty tough”…
    http://youtu.be/hOaNIM0uuuk

  19. squareking says:

    Sounds like my early experiences with Commandos way back when. :)

  20. Calneon says:

    “I decide, instead, to try to take out the chopper pilots. I send a guy back across the river to get some RPGs that were in an ammo pile, and I creep onto a nearby hillock and blast the chopper pilots with the RPG. Brilliant, I think. But then the Hueys take off anyway, and everyone dies.”

    Erm, forgive me if I’m being stupid here, but why not shoot the actual choppers with your RPGs? Are they out of range or something?

  21. mbp says:

    Um….

    Has anyone told Fox News that you get to play as a Russian shooting American soldiers in this game?

    I bet it has greenery in it too.

  22. JB says:

    Jim, I’m guessing your sniper never did find his rifle again without loading your savegame =(

  23. cairbre says:

    Hmmm I like the men of war games but this kinda fills me with dread. By the way what difficulty should I play Men of War Games on. I aint no Starcraft grand master now or anything?

  24. roethle says:

    I may have to skip this game. I love the men of war series but my dad fought in Vietnam and I’d be constantly terrified that i just killed the tiny digital version of my papa.

  25. MonkeyMonster says:

    i’d do it the same way and get annoyed too. forced pathways given a coat of paint that says open world options, go your own path… or not. grrrr.

  26. BathroomCitizen says:

    Nice piece of writing Jim, very funny.

    I felt the same kind of stress while playing the vanilla Men of War campaign. I’m not really hardcore, so I lost my patience at the third mission because I couldn’t deal anymore with the save-reload-stress.

    This speaks much of my failures. I’ll never tell this to my grandchildren.

  27. mbhlin says:

    Top game goods in http://bit.ly/5jbkVf ,there can help you to play games so easy

  28. Duckee says:

    The trick is to have several saves, and save every time you do something good that increases your progress. While I was completing Red Tide I think I had 5 save files constantly during the missions.

    Also, if there is some sort of unmanned vehicle in the map, that is something you should go for. Even if it seems impossible, your sniper or scout can often sneak in and steal these things and then you just drive off and into the jungle or whatever. The AI tends to give up if you hide anyways.

  29. Shooop says:

    Oh good, they made Boiling Point: The Video Game.

    There’s a difference between a game being made challenging and a game so poorly designed it’s not meant to be played. The completely silent helicopters and magically appearing boat are the give-aways here.

  30. The Innocent says:

    I love — and I mean love — the Men of War series. From Soldiers: Heroes of WW2 up to Assault Squad, I’ve had a blast with this series.

    I think that this is the first one that I’m going to wait for a sale before picking up. For some reason, this iteration never sounded that great.

    Excellent writeup, Jim. I’m glad I can wait on this one.

  31. PleasingFungus says:

    Watching the video preview, the boat appears in an area that was previously off the edge of the map (Operational Area Expanded!), and the fuel is in a depot past it, in the opposite direction from the base. (Around the 20 minute mark.)

    Did they change the mission, or is Jim just misremembering?

    (The helicopters still seem to be silent, though.)

  32. Yosharian says:

    Reading this made me interested in the game ^_^

    *is a masochist*

  33. Isometric says:

    Aw poor Jim. I’m sure they’ll iron out the rough edges like they always do. Personally I can’t wait to have a crack at it myself.

  34. attila16 says:

    If you want to see how to finish the level in less then half an hour, this video show it.
    http://youtu.be/hOaNIM0uuuk

    note that there is also 3 others level shown on that same channel.

  35. WombatDeath says:

    You are getting old, Jim. Old and slow and tired; a trembling, wizened husk whose faltering flesh can look forward to no more than a swift and silent end.

  36. Arathain says:

    Incidentally, “No sir. No.” is RPS’ best running joke line that hasn’t caught on.

  37. Viconaz says:

    This really wasnt hard to kill all 3 choppers, on my first try i got all 3 and granted i lost 2guys in the process, it wasnt hard at all because i lost those 2 guys covering my guys with RPGs http://steamcommunity.com/id/viconaz/screenshot/542904782784903349

  38. P4p3Rc1iP says:

    Seeing that video preview made me want this game actually. Looks very much like the difficulty I loved in SHOWWII

  39. Dances to Podcasts says:

    But what’s your body count? That’s how you win Vietnam, right?

    /few too many discussions about that…

  40. Isometric says:

    I just finished the mission but it wasn’t easy. I had sneak all the way to the top of the map then clip away the outer enemy soliders with the silenced AK. That helped me get closer to the choppers and coordinate three quick RPG attacks on them. All went up in flames and I legged it to safety. From that point the rest was pretty standard MoW. I only lost one guy at the end getting into the boat.

    I’m not a big fan of these sneaking missions to be honest, I certainly prefer the all out war.

  41. RegisteredUser says:

    To be perfectly honest, sounds exactly like the original war.
    Remember that one russian mission at the coast?
    You had to stop 1000+ men and constant TANK! attacks with NOTHING other than 2-3 rows of trenches and people who had molotov cocktails as their sole defense against the tank guns..

    It was nuts, insane, frustrating and took 3 weekends to complete. And that was just one of the several 10 to 1 odds missions where you were expected to move forward with a mix of luck and direct control skill.

    That so far has been what MoW stood for, for better or worse, and it seems to be doing that again..

    To be clear: I, too, would have appreciated a touch more balance this time(maybe add more enemies and wider alert radius ONLY in hard mode).

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