Genre: First Person Shooter
Developer: nFusion Interactive
Date: March 4th, 2003
Developer, Infrogrames is no foreigner to the first person shooter (FPS) genre, as it is also responsible for showing the world all but one of the Unreal titles, including the recently released Unreal II: The Awakening. With nothing to loose, Infrogrames went out on a limb to produce a Vietnam-based first person shooter. Gamers have seen many attempts at a strong Vietnam FPS over the past decade. The most recent attempt at a successful Vietnam game is Line of Sight: Vietnam. A budget title from nFusion Interactive; the game is based around the missions of sniper, Private Chris Egan.
In 12 Intricate missions with 12 different weapons, Egan’s objectives range from calling in air strikes to ambushing Vietcong convoys. The game’s much anticipated multiplayer mode along with the lush environments set the game up for success early on. Prior to the game’s release, many sites carried screenshots and previews, showing the gaming community the game’s impressive environments and talking of the intricately designed multiplayer modes. From the previews alone one could predict that this could be a possible game of the year candidate.
After installing the game for the first time it took only five minutes or so to get the game configured and run through the tutorial. The tutorial was moderately helpful in that it showed you all of the weapons and items that can be utilized throughout the game; however it did not teach tactics such as stealth which really sets a player up for disaster in this game. Heading into the first mission, it is quite a surprise when you realize that really the only way to defeat your enemies is to either kill them quietly or not kill them at all. Immediately after nearby enemies hear gunshots they swarm to the source. It is possible to complete missions in a shoot’em up fashion, but it usually results in failure. Overall the game is relatively easy to pick up, but quite a paradox to master. It is not uncommon to die 5 or 6 times in the process of completing a mission on the easy skill level.
The realism factor is definitely there in this game, taking a page from Tom Clancy’s book on one hit kills. A shot between the upper torso and the head is usually fatal, for both player and the enemy. Through the realistic damage, a certain survival element is thrown into the game, which really captures what it could have been like in the Vietnam War. Enemy AI proves to be quite an adversary in this game as the enemies patrol high traffic areas, take cover under fire, and actually reload their weapons. This may seem like a trivial comment, but it would surprise most people that more often than not, enemies in first person shooters have unlimited ammunition and do not stop to reload. If an enemy soldier happens to exhaust his ammunition (around 5 clips), which rarely happens, he will pull his knife and attack you; a clever little addition to the game. nFusion’s use of squad members was done in a mediocre fashion, as the player can have only one squad-mate. The AI in the squad-members is designed so that the soldier is a strong marksman, but has little or no value for its own life. When injured the squad-member AI will not use available first aid kids. Another annoying glitch in the squad-member is its inability to traverse steep slopes and rock faces.
Although the game benefits tremendously from the elaborate AI, that same AI makes the game terribly hard even on the easiest skill level. This ends up increasing the games length which in the long run, is probably what nFusion Interactive was shooting for, as they only include 12 missions with the game. One of the games few downsides. Mission objectives were quite a pleasant surprise ranging from troop escorts, to assassinations, to air strikes. The variety was there in Line of Sight: Vietnam’s mission objectives which were key to the games success. Integrated into the HUD are a map and a compass. As global positioning and satellite photography were in their infancy during the time of the war, all these two items offer the player a rough idea as to where his/her objective is.
The lack of missions was a bit of a disappointment in that as a player it was very disappointing to finish the game in such little time. Eight to ten hours tops; that is about the playing time for the average gamer, which is not bad considering the average playing time for today’s game’s is usually in the vicinity of seven to fourteen hours. It is just that a game like Line of Sight: Vietnam is such a pleasure to play that it is a shame for it to be finished in such little time. An extra 5-10 missions would have been quite nice.
Visually, the environments in this game are astonishing. Lush foliage, covers every inch of the Vietnamese jungle. The in-game environments are awe-inspiring in design. Along with the environments, the player models and animations are very well done, not perfect, but still very nice. The only true downfall visually is the weapon models, they are only mediocre, in that they are nothing out of the ordinary. The game would have benefited from some more elaborate weapon models. Utilization of Volition’s geomod engine would have been incredible. Just imagine seeing a grenade go off next to you and watch the a few trees collapse. The game would have benefited from a liscensed copy of the geomod engine.
Today’s games depend heavily on their audio components. Line of Sight: Vietnam’s sounds were neither groundbreaking nor terrible, simply average. Like the weapon models, the sounds could have used a few more weeks of work. Environmental sounds would have added to the atmosphere of the game. The voices are relatively emotionless; it would have been nice to hear the hysteria in Egan’s voice when he was under fire. Weapon sounds were a little flat; it would have been nice to have some more bass in the sounds.
Multiplayer is an aspect that is the basis for most modern day games. In the online community it is very hard to create a successful multiplayer title. The various multiplayer modes including Coop, deathmatch and team deathmatch, provide players with an unlimited entertainment value going head-to-head in the lush environments. Even in multiplayer, the shoot’em up mentality will get a player nowhere; it is all about tactics such as stealth. Roger Wilco, or maybe even a future maybe even a patch that supports voice communication, would throw in the squad based feeling that was the Vietnam War.
Kudos goes out to nFusion Interactive for producing the first well rounded Vietnam FPS. The stunning, lush environments make the player feel like he/she is Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now; you can almost smell the napalm playing this game. As good as it was, nFusion fell a few steps short of perfection with the minimal atmospheric sounds, flat weapon sounds, and dull weapon models. The AI both helps and hurts this game depending on the type of gamer that plays it. The AI is quite strong, making it quite hard to defeat the VC troops; it is the competent, patient marksman in this game that will succeed. There is no place for Rambos in this jungle. This exciting tactical shooter has put nFusion on the map as the first company to produce a solid Vietnam FPS.
Score: 8.4 / 10
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