It's war! Watch those plastic, green, and tan toy-soldier figurines come to life and vie for supremacy in this squad-level real-time action/strategy hybrid. In Army Men, you take on the role of Sarge, a grizzled veteran leading his troops through desert, alpine, and bayou settings, grabbing weapon power-ups and blasting your way to victory. Call in air strikes and paratrooper drops. Steal tanks and jeeps for destructive uses. Almost everything can be destroyed in this gasoline-soaked world. Soldiers die in a manner appropriate to the weapon that killed them: rifles break off plastic limbs, flame-throwers melt them into puddles of goo, and rockets send them flying into little bits. Both action and strategy elements are in abundance.
This is not a fun game. It is a great concept though--take the little green plastic army men we played with when we were kids and use them as characters in a videogame (3DO swears up and down they came up with this idea before the movie Toy Story came out!). To make sure you notice how great the concept is, Army Men sells with little plastic army men in the box, which may be enough of an attention grabber to account for the game's ability to break PC Data's Top Ten charts for a month or two. At any rate, Army Men is an important reminder that cool concept art does not make a game.
Army Men is an action game, played from an overhead, Gauntlet-style perspective, though there are occasional intrusions of strategy. The little armies of soldiers are divided into identical green and tan sides (I seem to remember my green plastic army men came with German opponents, but never mind) that are determinedly belligerent in a somewhat endearing manner. Various missions span desert, swamp and mountain environments, and a variety of weapons and vehicles lend variety--bazookas, grenades, tanks, jeeps, air-strikes, and the like. However, the one gun that would be the most useful for a lone commando, a submachine gun, is absent.
In each game, you control one unit on the map, a guy named "Sarge", who calls in air strikes, tosses grenades, and use all the different weapons found on the map, though he starts with a standard rifle. Control is with the number pad; you fire by tapping the space bar.
Here's where the problems begin. "Sarge" is apparently a gamy old stiff-legged man equipped with a BB gun, because he can't hit the broad side of a barn. This is largely due to the game's control system. To target someone, you must align each enemy soldier along the vector of your rifle, which frankly takes far too long.
Furthermore, "Sarge" can't clamber over knee-high barriers and ditches. Instead, he must go all the way around the barrier, meaning you pretty much play through the mission exactly the way it's laid out. That means you must solve each mission's "puzzles"--go here, use this weapon, get this health--again and again until you get it right. Oh, and there's no way to save in the middle of a mission either.
At times, a squad of infantrymen accompanies "Sarge", but if your mission is to keep the squad intact, you're probably better off leaving them guarding the starting point and clearing the path yourself. These guys are seriously inept. Not all of Army Men is a total loss. Using the flame-thrower or vehicles can be fun at times, and the art and presentation is nice. Unfortunately, the core game underneath is little more than an exercise in futility and aggravation. For now, it looks like green plastic army men should stay buried in your backyard, and off of your hard drive.
People who downloaded Army Men have also downloaded:
Army Men 2, Army Men: World War, Army Men: Air Attack, Army Men: Sarge's Heroes, Army Men: Sarge's War, Army Men: Air Tactics, Army Men: RTS, Army Men: Toys in Space
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