Sarge, the lantern-jawed hero who began his video game career leading armies of green plastic soldiers to war against their greatest nemesis (an army of tan plastic soldiers), strikes out on his own in this adventure, the first new Army Men game published since the series' originator 3DO closed its studio doors in 2003. It seems that the enemy Tan Army has deployed a weapon of unimaginable destruction, which reduced Sarge's entire platoon to a pile of melted green plastic. While staying true to the gameplay and storylines of earlier Sarge's Heroes games, this single-player adventure boasts an edgier presentation and a greater emphasis on smart battlefield tactics.
Army Men: Sarge's War is a third-person shooter based on the never-ending war between the Greens and the Tans, and Sarge is your man. He's tough and built like a green gorilla, sounds like Duke Nukem, but not nearly as funny. You can play the game in single-player mode through the campaign, and on the PC version, that's it. No multiplayer. How did that happen? Even the consoles had a slapped together craptacular multiplayer experience... I guess maybe they just threw in the towel on this version.
Army Men: Sarge's War is a simple shooter, with basic gameplay premises and very little special extras or unique qualities. You move from mission to mission, following a minimalist storyline, beating short, small and uninteresting levels while using more powerful weapons as you go. It's just about the most standard fare you could ask for. One thing is for sure, it makes other shooters, such as, say, The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher's Bay or even Metal Slug 3 look like pure genius. Heck, even Shadow Ops: Red Mercury looks pretty damn fine in comparison.
On the positive side (and I use this word in the most lenient way), the latest Army Men effort is not as incompetent as other Army Men games. It's far less buggy than any other Army Men game. That's a relief. Army Men: Sarge's War is a straight-up shooter requiring the most basic of gaming tactics. You'll need to switch weapons, find ammo, search for flags, crouch, snipe, use cover, and you'll face increasingly stiff competition as the game progresses. It's not original, interesting, or in anyway engaging to the experienced gamer, but it might just make an inexperienced, six-year old rather happy... if that six-year old happens to be blind.
The weapon list is filled with the standard items. You start with the stinky pea-shooter Carbine and move onto the Assault Rifle, Ga-9 Sniper Rifle, and the heavy duty Shotgun. From there is gets even more fun and destructive. The Assault Rifle becomes an Auto Rifle, and you'll also get the bazooka, flame thrower, and the heavy machine gun. You collect weapons, ammo, special maps, and enemy flags as well.
What's deviously fun about this game (SPOILER ahead) is what happens in the story. This is good.... Why is it that Sarge is actually at war? That "maniac" Colonel Malice is back, seeking vengeance with a plan that's as devilish as any Joker (a la Batman)-style mass murder. Colonel Malice looks like a combination of Scorpion (of Mortal Kombat fame) with his trademark steel mouth guard, and M. Bison from Street Fighter. In other words, like a complete tool. He sets a time bomb during a peace accord and blows everybody up. And I mean everybody. The pilots from the Army Men Air Attack games, colonels on both sides, and even Sarge's love, Vicky, croaks in the end. Finally!, something good happens in an Army Men game.
On the negative side (and I'm keeping this in check), Army Men: Sarge's War is a redundant, unoriginal, by-the numbers shooter that features troubling collision detection (you might shoot an enemy from distance, but he won't take damage), seriously worrisome AI (these are some near-sided, dumb-ass Tan soldiers, I gotta tell you), small, barely competent levels, and very, very dumbed down interfaces. To say that Army Men: Sarge's War is derivative, tedious, dull, pain-inducing, horrifically mind-numbing, frightfully sub-par, and torturous is to put it mildly.
Actually, after playing this game and nearly dying myself, I did laugh at one of the AI routines. Sometimes when you do a headshot, instead of the enemy dying, he'll act like a chicken with his head cut off. Except with a gun. He'll spin around randomly shooting until you finish him off. It may have been the only thing keeping me from committing hari kari.
It doesn't get more simple than Army Men: Sarge's War, especially on the PC, which oddly enough doesn't give you the option to increase any options. The game's visuals are like the gameplay: simple, repetitive and very much like the previous Army Men titles. You've got your sandboxes, tinker toys, shovels, wheelbarrows, firecrackers, blah-de-blah-de-blah. Remember when you were a messy kid and your crap ruled the sandbox? Well, imagine if you collected all your kid crap and threw it in a sandbox, lawn, or backyard. Then one night, some underpaid designer snuck in and built little levels out of your junky stuff, the sand, the dirt, and used tinker toys as bridges and buildings. Almost remarkable at first. Then terribly sleep-inducing. At one time these levels looked kind of inventive. Now they look as if they were once inventive; like you know, like six years ago. In another era.
Actually, the little green bullet bags do take physical damage in a new and better way than before; actually it's Sarge who does it best. When he takes heavy damage, you'll see chunks missing from his head and giant holes in his chest and stomach that you can see through, a la Terminator 2.
Well, it doesn't get any more basic than this. Sarge sounds like a poor imitation of Duke Nukem (I did say this already, didn't I?) with the same 'tude, same deadpan delivery, only everything he says is so un-funny that it threatens to make all of the laughter in the world shrivel and die whimpering all of the way. You'll say to yourself, "Did he really say that? Man, that was dumb." The music is dramatic, over the-top fluff that sounds a lot like every other Army Men game.
Sarge's War is relatively competent, but so dull and dumbed down that it feels like it was designed for the inept gamer.
People who downloaded Army Men: Sarge's War have also downloaded:
Army Men: Sarge's Heroes, Army Men: Air Attack, Army Men: Air Tactics, Army Men: World War, Army Men 2, Army Men, Army Men: RTS, Army Men: Toys in Space
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