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Surf this, Charlie - Men of War: Vietnam

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Turns out there’s not one, not two, not two, not two, but two new Men of War games due later this year. Jim forcibly craned your head towards MoW: Assault Squad last week, but now there’s Men of War: Vietnam too. Which I a) am quite excited about, as ‘Nam is not a territory RTS has often trod in and b) played for a little while a couple of weeks ago.
The most immediately interesting thing is that this is a two-sided game. Pretty much any Vietnam-set game you can care to name is through the eyes of US soldiers, and does very little to make the Viet Cong anything more than a faceless horde. MOWV (miaow) includes a fully VC campaign. MoW has traditionally been pretty good at at even-handedness in the name of military interestingness, and I’m genuinely pumped…

Oh no. I just wrote ‘pumped.’ I’m so sorry. I’m in New York at the moment, you see. I’m going native already.

…I’m genuinely intrigued to see how this elaborate-yet-intimate strategy game realises hiding in foxholes and using the jungle as camouflage. Hopefully, the two sides will be asymmetrical in a way MoW hasn’t truly dabbled in previously.

Alas none of the VC side of the game was on show, but I did get to dabble with a level from the US campaign. Visually it didn’t look notably better than MoW, but the change to tall, dense trees certainly gave it a new look. The trees can be used as semi-cover throughout, which enabled some canny ambushing techniques. The VCs seemed a little better at in than me, darting about with lethal efficiency, but I suspect once I’m accustomed to thinking cover-cover-cover at all times the balance will even out.

There was a spot of cleverly understated politicking, too. My first order in the game was to attack a group of Vietnamese civilians up ahead, who to all intents and purposes were unarmed peasant farmers. Um. Do I have to?

Upon mowing them down, I’m ordered to search the baskets they were carrying. They’re crammed with automatic weaponry. If my guys hadn’t killed these guys then, well, they’d be the tiny corpses littering the dusty road. But I didn’t know that for sure. Have I done the right thing? This kind of moral obfuscation is Vietnam all over. I have no idea if the game will toy with similar comfortableness throughout – it is first and foremost about military tactics, after all – but the setting certainly lends itself to pushing our moral buttons.

Apart from that, it was very a Men of War game. Collecting hats and guns from corpses, getting shot if you roam into the open too often, and generally being just a little bit hard. I liked it, but I need to see more. Given that Vietnam was largely an infantry war too, the game’s going to have to work hard to keep its levels interesting without resorting to vehicles.

But maybe there’ll be helicopters. I do like a helicopter. Oh look, there are:

More news of Men of War: Vietnam soon, I don’t doubt.

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Alec Meer

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Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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