Line of Sight: Vietnam puts players in the boots of a Green Beret sniper during the thick of the Vietnam War. Players will stealthily move through jungle terrain, identify targets, position themselves, and take out enemies. The ten available weapons include models that can be taken from enemy soldiers. Players must account for a variety of weather conditions, traps, and the dense jungle vegetation. Multiplayer options include cooperative games over a LAN or the Internet.
Line of Sight has a historical background; in 1968 the US military began deploying marksmen in Vietnam as support for other ground troops. Many of the snipers were from Army Special Forces (the Green Berets) and were dispatched on a variety of missions against the Viet Cong, including some ambushes.
The game puts the player in the role of a member of the Army Special Forces (better known as "The Green Berets"), attached to the covert Studies and Observation Group (SOG) at the height of America's involvement in the Vietnam War.
The Studies and Observation Group (SOG) was a joint armed forces organization consisting of primarily Army Special Forces, but including assets from the Air Force, Marine Force Recon and Navy SEALs. Missions for SOG were planned and approved at the highest military and civilian levels, which included the top five military commanders in South Vietnam, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, The Pentagon and even the White House. SOG was responsible for covert cross-border operations into South Vietnam's neighbors: Laos, Cambodia and North Vietnam - areas where conventional American military ground units were restricted from entering. The activities of SOG are shrouded in secrecy, many of which are still considered highly classified today.
What is known about SOG operations is that they consisted of (but were not limited to) reconnaissance, sabotage, raids and ambushes, prisoner snatches, and rescues of downed pilots and POWs. These are, naturally, the type of missions you'll be playing in the game as well. But even though you'll be behind enemy lines, and in the most hostile of environments, you won't be working alone. Similarly to what they did in Deadly Dozen 2, nFusion have once again included team AI to help you along the way. The number of your squad mates will vary depending on the mission, but there will be only a few of those where you'll get to solve matters on your own. As in nFusion's previous games, your buddies will play a key role, as they'll often watch your six and provide covering fire when things get really hairy. Given the fact that nFusion has already had plenty of experience in designing similar titles, it was to be expected that the team AI would work rather well, and it did; for the most part... Your squad mates use basic squad tactics and will do their best to cover your flank and rear. They will, however, get stuck on an odd object or two, and don't always know how to follow you up or down the stairs. Overall, they seem to have a lot of problems with confined spaces, but in an open jungle they are quite effective. Nonetheless, the fact that I had to baby-sit them to the designated location a couple of times didn't enhance my enjoyment of the game any.
In your fight against the Vietcong you and your "Green Beret" teammates will get to use 12 different weapons, including the CAR-15 Assault Rifle, M-21 Sniper Rifle, M-60 Light Machine Gun, M-1 Carbine, Pump-action Shotgun, and more. Besides having all these US guns at your disposal, you'll be able to snatch the Russian stuff from the dead Vietcong soldiers; like the AK-47, SKS Carbine, SVD Sniper Rifle and more. Although some of these guns exhibit certain realistic properties, I got the feeling that the recoil, aiming, etc., have been cut down in favor of a more action-packed, arcadish experience. Even though the game takes into consideration such things as the weight of each gun, it's quite obvious that the bullet trajectory hardly ever comes into play, and the same goes for the ever so slight shaking of the scope, the wind, etc. Shooting from a sniper position in Vietnam: LoS feels a lot like firing AWM in Counter-Strike, and I'd hardly call the weapon properties in Counter-Strike realistic. Of course, bear in mind that my opinion on this matter is highly subjective, and that I have based it on some limited experience with sniper rifles, and lots of time with other, similar military shooters. The lack of more realism is hardly a downside, however, as it adds more pace to the gameplay. The most used sniper rifles are semi-automatic, which means that you'll be able to fire quite rapidly without ever having to take your eye off the scope. Less realistic - yes; more fun - again yes.
Weapon properties in Line of Sight keep the action more intense, which is a good thing. Although the game is supposedly a sneaker shooter, I have found the gameplay to be a lot more action-oriented than that. The characteristics of the 3D engine allow for very dense jungle settings with even more vegetation than in Soldier of Fortune 2. The idea of this is to provide a setting where the line of sight would play a crucial role during combat. In a way, this is how it plays out, as it will be much harder for Vietcong to gun you down when you're crouched in some thick grass (you can go pron, btw). Still, the enemy AI is too accurate and environmentally aware sometimes, which kind of makes it impossible to sneak past them effectively. I swear there were a few incidents when even a lemming would have troubles spotting me, but they did somehow. During one of the night missions, an enemy soldier from about 150 yards away gunned me down even though he had no night vision equipment and it was pitch black outside. I don't know, maybe it's just me, but I doubt that even Vietcong knew the jungle terrain that well. Apart from this drawback, the AI acts believably enough, as they will duck for cover, retreat and use flanking tactics when they can. They will also try to take full advantage of the terrain.
While the gameplay is more straightforward, and far less sneaky than advertised, it is still very intense and quite fun. I was pleasantly surprised by the sheer appeal of the action, which kind of sucks you in and keeps you moving from mission to mission. There aren't a lot of missions in Vietnam: LoS; only 12 in all; so it won't take an experienced player long to finish the game, but it's quite fun while it lasts.
The game is powered by nFusion's proprietary 3D engine, which reminds me a lot of the modified Quake III engine used in Soldier of Fortune 2 (without the goriness, mind you). If you can believe it, the 3D code supports more vegetation on screen than what could be seen in SoF2's jungle missions, and it also boasts some very nice weather effects while keeping a rock solid frame rate. The engine is clearly not "next-gen" in any way, but let's just say that it's quite similar in appearance to Raven's SoF2 code and that, in itself, is quite a feat. Weapon models are not as good-looking, and neither are the player models, but the weather effects, like the pouring rain and the abundance of vegetation do look better.
The in-game sounds are nothing to write home about, and yet, they're pleasing enough not to interfere or take away from the action.
Despite the fact that Vietnam's overall presentation and especially the marketing campaign (or the lack of thereof) surrounding the game may've indicated that this is just another value title by Infogrames, the quality of the gameplay, and Vietnam's intense in-game atmosphere painted a different picture. Line of Sight: Vietnam is a very solid military shooter, and I personally can't think of many reasons why fans of the genre shouldn't own it. The single-player campaign won't last too long, but then, there's always the option of playing over LAN or the Internet. The multiplayer facet doesn't bring anything drastically new to the table, but it's still fun enough to keep this game on your HDD for a while longer.
People who downloaded Line of Sight: Vietnam have also downloaded:
Marine Heavy Gunner: Vietnam, Marine Sharpshooter II: Jungle Warfare, Men of Valor, Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault, I.G.I.-2: Covert Strike, Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb, Joint Operations: Typhoon Rising
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