Unfortunately for gamers, “Battlefield Vietnam” feels more like an expansion packs and less like an actual sequel, though fans of the series and newcomers alike will still manage to have a lot of fun with the game.
Electronic Arts has never been known to overlook opportunities to make even more money than they already have. After two expansion packs, EA finally decided to deliver a full-fledged sequel to “Battlefield 1942” in hopes of turning the series into yet another lucrative franchise. Unfortunately for us gamers, “Battlefield Vietnam” feels more like one of those expansion packs and less like an actual sequel, though fans of the series and newcomers alike will still manage to have a lot of fun with the game.
If you’ve already played “Battlefield 1942,” “Vietnam” is going to be old hat, but if you’re new to the game, you’ll know how to play after about five minutes of practice. It’s a testament to the original game’s developers that the engine holds up so well and is every bit as fun today, even though “Vietnam” shows very little progression from the original design. “Vietnam” looks and plays almost exactly like “1942,” though it’s hard to fault a company for sticking with the ol’ “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” strategy. No, “1942” wasn’t broken, but a new game should have more than just simple cosmetic, superfluous changes.
The first change you’ll notice, other than the second word in the title, is the jungle setting…sort of. Much of “1942” took place in the Pacific theatre of World War II, so transporting things over to Vietnam of the 1960s doesn’t make things as fresh as you might think. The jungle combat is slightly modified as the foliage helps to add cover to invading forces, but all things considered, the game looks just like “1942” with a few tweaks and graphical improvements here and there. The weapons and vehicles are all upgraded, of course, and while the inclusion of helicopters and jets are welcome and incredibly fun, the new machine guns and explosives seem far too powerful and make the gameplay a lot easier. Of course, this could be seen as an improvement for those who found “1942” too difficult.
Where “Battlefield Vietnam” truly outshines its predecessor is in its sound design. It’s almost impossible to describe how much the soundtrack and audio cues add to the fun. To begin with, the game is filled with authentic rock music from the ’60s, most of which seems taken from such movies as “Platoon” or “Full Metal Jacket.” Even Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” is in there and playable from every vehicle, including the choppers. Shouts and orders are barked at you in Vietnamese if you choose to play on that side, and anti-American propaganda can be heard through loudspeakers on some levels. The audio, more than anything else, makes the game feel like a Vietnam movie.
All things considered, “Vietnam” is a good game, but it’s basically just “Battlefield 1942” set in a different war. This will be enough for many people, however, since that’s all they were expecting. To me, the game feels more like an expansion pack or a user-created mod than a true sequel, albeit a very good one. Give it a try if you liked “1942,” but don’t expect anything radically different.