Men of War: Vietnam – Review

Title   Men of War: Vietnam
Developer  Digitalmindsoft
Publisher  1C Company
Platform  PC
Genre  RTS, Strategy
Release Date  9th September, 2011

Vietnam is the fourth stand alone installment in the Men of War series of games from Digitalmindsoft, the others being Men of War, Red Tide and Assault Squad, the latter of which we reviewed here. This time the series moves away from World War II and concentrates on the Vietnam War. For those unfamiliar with the series, Men of War is a squad based RTS series and, as per the previous games, the Vietnam  installment comes with a serious level of detail. It’s definitely the thinking man’s strategy game; simply pointing your men in the general direction of the enemy and hoping for the best won’t get you very far;  a little bit of forward thinking goes a long way in getting things done.

The singleplayer campaign is a series of ten missions showing the war from the perspectives of both sides, starting with the North Vietnamese and then later moving on to the Americans. While ten missions doesn’t seem like a lot, I can tell you now that they are HARD, and I mean really hard. The first mission alone took me hours and a lot of fails before I eventually completed it. Picture it if you will: a group of Soviet ‘advisors’ are traveling with a small convoy of North Vietnamese  soldiers on the way to their base when they are suddenly attacked by an American Huey helicopter. The chopper proceeds to make mince-meat of the convoy, raining down rockets, bullets and probably explosive midgets onto my poor head. After the dust settles I’m left with four survivors and then the mission starts in earnest. I’m tasked with getting my rag-tag group of survivors from one end of the map to the other with  an entire bloody platoon of American troops, backed up by a helicopter, in between. Even on easy difficulty this is no simple feat.

You’ll quickly learn that managing your squad is extremely important if you want to succeed. Getting your men to go where you want is simple enough – all you need to do is click a location and away you go. If there is cover available, a white silhouette of your squad will appear indicating how your men will use it, which is quite useful. In the right hand corner there is a panel with a host of options for your squad to take; for example, do you want your men to stand up, crouch or go prone? Do you want them to shoot on sight, return fire only or hold their fire? In addition to these simple instructions there are unit-specific special abilities, such as ‘snipe’ or ‘throw a grenade’. It’s overwhelming at first, however, it starts to make sense quickly and you’ll come to appreciate having all your options in one place. You’ll also want to learn how to take direct control of your units early on because doing so allows you to aim for specific targets or units. This is made more important when you’re first given tanks to control, as you can directly aim where you want to shoot enemy tanks – this is because it’s easier to take out their tracks first, thus disabling them so that you can then destroy them at your leisure, rather than letting the AI just take pot shots at a moving target.

Now that's how you do an amphibious vehicle, Top Gear

Out of all of the control features, direct control is by far the most useful and enjoyable. Additionally, each man can operate any weapon that you choose to equip him with and your men can drive any vehicle, with most damaged vehicles being repairable (providing you have the time to repair them). However, depending on the class of your soldiers, your men will only have a certain level of proficiency with each different type of weapon.  For example, your sniper will generally be rubbish with a heavy machine gun and vice versa for anyone else picking up a sniper rifle. As a result, careful checking is necessary when giving your men new guns that you find or loot from dead enemies, as giving someone the wrong type of weapon will ruin your day later on when he comes to use it. While this is actually quite cool, and I applaud this level of detail, it can also be slightly annoying after a while.

As you’re only given control of a small group of men per mission you’ll find yourself becoming strangely attached to them. Quite a few times I would find myself shitting it if an ambush went wrong; I’d be frantically trying to get my men away before they were pinned down and picked off by the enemy.  The AI was very good; usually with these sort of games you’ll find that you can pick off men while their mates stand around and casually wait their turn to be shot in the face. Yet, in Vietnam, the enemy will call for help if they see one of their guys go down and they will actively hunt you in the area where they think you’re hiding. There is one mission where you must sneak through a base un-detected and rig up the base’s Howitzer artillery guns to explode, along with some other key buildings. If you get detected you’re as good as dead, so it makes for some very tense gaming and a nice change of pace from the ‘all action’ missions, which I enjoyed.

Back to the first mission and managing my squad, I found that splitting up the men into two separate teams worked best, as I could distract the stupid Americans with one group and then flank them with my other squad, killing them quickly in an extremely satisfying and bloody crossfire. Eventually the pesky Americans start thinning out and progress seems to be getting made… right up until the helicopter comes flying over to drop more explosive midgets on my head. Shit. Load. Try again.

Helicopters are something new to the series and it’s a feature Digitalmindsoft and publishers, 1C Company, have been bigging up prior to release. In truth, they are pretty awesome – a little too awesome if I’m honest, as getting zeroed in on by one of these bad boys usually means insta-gib for the poor buggers at the business end of those bloody rockets. The amount of times I’ve had the vast majority of my forces wiped out by these bastards would probably come close to, if not surpassing, the number of hot dinners that I’ve had in my proverbial eating career. They can be shot down with RPGs and such, but having the right man carrying the right weapon at the right time to do the job doesn’t come up as often as I would like it to, therefore leading to bouts of frustration and a great deal of stomping off in a huff.

Graphically, the game hasn’t progressed any further than Allied Assault but that’s not a slight against Vietnam. The animations for the soldiers are spot on, with the only glitch, that I noticed being that sometimes if you crawled your men to the water they appeared to continue crawling underwater rather than swimming. The vehicles and buildings look quite good too and, as with the last game, buildings are once again fully destructible, including the trees in the jungle – it’s just a shame that most of these buildings are just huts. Scenery wise, as you can expect with a game based on the Vietnam war, everything is green – seriously fucking green. All this greenness makes for spotting soldiers – your own included – very difficult.

I don’t mind so much with the enemy, as that’s the idea of fighting in a jungle, however I do have serious issues with the fact that I can’t see my own bloody soldiers. When put into squads, your men get a little star inside a box over the top of its commander to help with spotting them; this would actually be quite useful if said stars in said boxes weren’t green! Sure, I can select a squad from the handy portrait selection icons on the left of the screen, but clicking them still does not tell you which squad you have selected until you give them an order and  see them move. Massive fail.  The game is hard enough when I do know where my men are. I shouldn’t have to guess at which men I’ve just selected or have to strain my eyes in order to find a camouflaged star. It’s not so bad on the more open missions where there is a bit less jungle with contend with, but it is still rather annoying.

The music in Vietnam seems pretty standard and not very memorable, it seems to be the same few tracks on repeat, however I only really noticed it when it ramped up during firefights or cut-scenes. The voice acting is also pretty rubbish; to go with your typical American gung-ho type of voice you’ve got extremely dodgy Russian and Vietnamese voice acting, which I thought was slightly cringeworthy – especially the Vietnamese voices.  In quite a contrast, however, the sound effects are great and each weapon and vehicle is slightly different from the other; the sounds of the jungle are also nicely done. Sure, it doesn’t make that much difference when they’re all going off at the same time but it’s still nice to see this level of attention to detail – it’s just a shame that the music and voice acting don’t match up.

As with most RTS games the real meat is in the multiplayer element, however, with Vietnam only a co-operative game mode is available, which I found quite bizarre, especially seeing how brilliant Allied Assault’s multiplayer was. It’s a strange design decision that leaves the multiplayer element of the game lacking somewhat and I don’t think I’d be too keen to do the co-op missions more than once. It’s not like the co-op missions are anything new either, they are simply just the single player missions, but you can tackle them with up to three other people. To be honest, I’d much rather have had some versus action instead, so in its current state the multiplayer element is somewhat of a letdown.

  • Massive amount of detail
  • Loads of options and tactics to employ
  • Very satisfying when a plan comes together
  • Green, very green
  • Very hard in places
  • No versus multiplayer
  • Feels like a mission pack

Vietnam is a must if you are a massive fan of the series and like a challenge but if you're in it for the multiplayer action then you will be disappointed. At ten missions long the singleplayer won't keep you busy that long providing you are, unlike me, good at the game. If you're not good at the game (me) you might find some of the missions are bloody chore. Additionally there doesn't seem to be very much incentive for the player to replay the missions after they've done them the once, which therefore leads to zero replayability.

I really tried to like this game, the level of detail and tactical options are second to none, there are more weapons than you can shake a shitty stick at too which leads to a whole host of options however it just doesn't seem to match the quality of the other games. It's like Digitalmindsoft were having a day and this was the product. It basically feels like this should have been a downloadable map pack to another game.

Our review policy

Last five articles by Ste



  1. Chris Toffer says:

    Great review mate. Was looking forward to this one, as I’ve been following the series for some time. I’ve not bought any of the games yet but only because they seem so involving.

  2. Ben Ben says:

    Still need to pick up the first of the series, is one of those titles that are currently sat waiting while I go through a few weeks of broken PC syndrome.

    Looks like this one can be decided on flip of the coin, no versus is a bit of a pain but co op is a plus. I do love that there are loads of options and tactics, but lack of replayability almost cancels that out. Flip of a coin for this one I think.

  3. Edward Edward says:

    Awesome review, Ste!
    It actually sounds like something I’d be more interested in if the difficulty wasn’t a pitch higher than what I’d be comfortable. However, if my gaming schedule gets a little less crowded then I’d be more than happy checking it out :D

  4. Lorna Lorna says:

    I keep meaning to actually play Assault Squad, but still haven’t got around to it. I think that given the difficulty here, I’d best ease myself in with the other one first. I love the sound of the jungle setting and the graphics look great, however, if it is a tough as you say, it will need some serious time invested in it, so may be another for my to-play at Christmas pile. Shame about the palette wiping out being able to see your own men. Just changing that star colour would have made all the difference…

  5. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    I’ve still not even opened up Assault Squad let alone Vietnam, despite being quite taken with it before it came out. It’s one of those things where you prioritise the next few games and then someone throws a curveball which means another game jumps the queue and the others fall behind. I love this type of game though, and I’ve never played anything set in Vietnam before so I’m interested to see how differently it plays from the other tactical RTS games, if at all.

    It’s likely one of those “rainy weekend” games where installing it on the lappy, getting a huge mug of tea and immersing in some serious war play is in order.

  6. Demonicchaos says:

    Why is the game so damn hard. But yet the game is about strategies and manipulating your enemy. I thought i was going to be like men of war assault squad.

Leave a Comment