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Army Men 3D (PSOne)
MSRP: $19.99
Number of Players: 1-2
Developer: 3DO
Publisher: 3DO


out of

Army Men 3D is a game I'd been looking forward to playing ever since it was announced last spring. I had a ton of those little plastic army men when I was little, so the opportunity to re-live my childhood -- with the help of some computer-generated pyrotechnics -- sounded like a great idea.

This game differs quite a bit from the Army Men games that 3DO has released for the PC. Rather than a real-time strategy game, the PlayStation Army Men is a third-person perspective 3D shooter. Instead of controlling an entire battalion, you simply control one soldier named Sarge.

Sarge, a green army man, has been recruited for a variety of missions against the tan army men. The player can make Sarge perform a number of different moves to enable him to complete his missions. Sarge can run, dive, crawl, roll left or right and, of course, use weapons. Initially armed with an M-16, Sarge can find grenades, explosives, mortars, flame-throwers and automatic rifles during his missions. All of these weapons are satisfyingly destructive when used. However, the game has several glaring flaws that keep it from being as enjoyable as it should have been.

First, the graphics are fairly bland. Sometimes, it's difficult to tell the difference between enemy soldiers and other objects that dot the landscape. When you're aiming off into the distance, its gets a bit difficult to tell exactly where an enemy soldier is standing. Lobbing a few precious grenades at the enemy, only to find you're blasting the hell out of a cactus is something that gets old pretty fast. (Yes, I understand the concept of camouflage. This isn't quite the same thing.) Draw-in is pretty evident, even though the horizon is blanketed in heavy fog. A zippy frame-rate helps ease the pain though. It may look pretty bland, but it moves fast and smooth.

The control, when you're running around as Sarge, isn't too bad at all. He responds well to your commands. The pre-game bootcamp option lets you learn all the quirks of controlling him and the vehicles. The vehicles are much more frustrating to control. They're just a little too responsive to your controls. The jeep, in particular, flies around faster than any jeep I've ever seen. Since even small rocks can block the path of any of the vehicles, it gets frustrating driving around faster than light and then getting hung up on a plant or rock.

The game attempts to be a little more atmospheric than an action game needs to be. The battlefields are eerily silent except for a few gunshot sounds and the occasional explosion. The soundtrack consists mostly of a strangely subdued military march, which is played a faint volume. If the developers are going to bother providing a musical score, at least let the player hear it. Distant dogs, birds and crickets can be heard as well. The overall result is ill-suited to a game of this nature.

The missions are varied enough in both difficulty and objective. Basically, the trick is not to charge into each level as you would in a Doom-type game. Patience is the key in Army Men 3D. If you run into an enemy area, you'll immediately be picking pieces of Sarge's body off the ground. Initially, I thought the game was too difficult. That was until I got the right game plan put together for each mission. Sneaking around and picking off the enemy soldiers one-by-one will get you a lot further towards completing your objective than a suicide charge.

The 2 player Capture the Flag game is a lot of fun and is probably the highlight of the disc. Each player places several different types of army men on a map and then battle it out against each other for possession of the flag. The computer will assist each player by automating the vehicles and men that the player isn't controlling. It's a lot of fun to play and its addition to the game adds a lot in the way of replay value to the overall package.

Overall, Army Men 3D is a game I really wanted to rave about. Being a fan of the whole concept, it was hard to watch the potential of the game be hampered by the horrible control of the vehicles and the less-than-thrilling graphics. Still, the gameplay is relatively solid and the game IS fun to play, even though it's nothing to look at. If you like action games, Army Men 3D is worth a rental first before you spend your hard earned cash on it.

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