Vietcong (Windows)

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Written by  :  Jim Newland (60)
Written on  :  Jul 28, 2018
Rating  :  4.57 Stars4.57 Stars4.57 Stars4.57 Stars4.57 Stars

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A criminally overlooked classic. One of the best PC shooters ever.

The Good

Sure, I'm looking at it through rose-colored glasses. Yet, I remember being completely taken with this game at the time. It came out roughly at the same time as the original Mafia, and, except for 1999 (the absolute best year ever in computer gaming), marked my most favorite gaming time, with warm and fuzzy memories that have hardly faded.

I love(d) Vietcong. The reviewer here who says it is unrealistic, simplistic, etc. must not have been playing the same game. I think that, even by today's standards, most people would find this a compelling, absorbing experience that does really give you the feeling of being there "in the sh*t." The single-player game is compelling and difficult--sometimes to the point of tearing your hair out--but this is the type of game that you will continue to reload ad nauseam until you get it right and get past the tough part. I recall doing just that back in the day (just as with Mafia), whereas I'm a fickle player who, with most games, will give up after a few tries and play something else because I don't care enough to continue. With Vietcong I did.

I also liked the AI companions, who, as someone said, weren't always perfectly reliable. Yet, they were for the most part, making them rather more realistic in the end than most AI-controlled NPC's. You could count on them by and large, but sometimes they screwed up or weren't exactly where you wanted them to be, just like in real life. From a realism standpoint, I liked that. More than a few of the guys who never came back from 'Nam testify to its accuracy, unintended or not.

As others have noted, the weapons feel and sound extremely authentic. I am a former Marine, so I can vouch for a couple of them myself, and I have to believe the others are equally well modeled. This may sound like an unimportant detail, but it really goes to the heart of the Vietcong game experience...the game seeks to be immersive above all things and the weapons modeling gets you a good deal of the way there. The levels are diverse and interesting, and always support the story rather than the other way around. If you're crawling through tunnels, it's because you (feel you) actually happened upon them, and not because the story was written around a tunnel level--even if it actually was.

So the single player game is well worth your while. Vietcong's single-player mode is one of the few I played all the way through, from beginning to end, despite frustrations and setbacks, and I did it in a relatively short period of time--highly unusual for me. But even better than the single-player is the multiplayer game. Vietcong boasts one of the most difficult, yet most satisfying and most fun, multiplayer modes around. It's truly tragic that the game is so ignored and is, for the most part, unavailable these days, because I remember having so much fun sneaking through the jungle and surprising the enemy--or being surprised myself--and that sneak then turning into a full-on run-and-gun (or, more accurately, spray-and-pray) panic, just as it must have been in real life. Of course, here, the chance of actually dying is absent, but it's remarkable how well that feeling is approximated in the game. Multiplayer Vietcong was, and I'll bet good money, remains, one of the best multiplayer computer gaming experiences of all time. Can you tell I loved it? I hope so, because I did :)

The Bad

As far as bad points, the only things I can think of are that it is, at times, punishingly difficult (although, depending upon your 'druthers, that might be counted a plus--in the end, it was with me), and that, by today's standards, the graphics must be second-rate. Even at the time, there were some rough edges graphically--mostly with the human modeling and not the environments, which I remember as relatively beautiful and convincing. However, just as with System Shock 2 or Thief, the graphics can't detract from the greatness of the overall game, and you'll find yourself ignoring those kinds of shortcomings if you find it interesting and immersive at all.

The Bottom Line

Vietcong is one of the best "realistic" shooters ever, while still remaining straightforward enough to please many plain-vanilla (i.e Duke Nukem or DOOM) shooter fans. That is to say, it's realistic without descending into micromanagement detail hell the way some games (Rainbow Six, SWAT 3, maybe) do. It's also one of the best, if not the best, war-themed shooters around. It's a darned shame Vietcong's popularity died out so soon after its initial release, because it's a game that is not only fun, but will stick in your memory long after the closing credits.