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Vietcong: Purple Haze (Xbox) artwork

Vietcong: Purple Haze (Xbox) review


"Vietcong: Purple Haze is yet another bleeding-heart chronicle of a faceless American soldier, yet another tale of a youth fraudulently lured from his beloved family and home by the empty promises of self-satisfaction purported by a finger-pointing Uncle Sam. Opening with actual black and white footage from the era, from scraggly hippies protesting the war on courthouse steps to Elvis feeding his new bride cake at their wedding (relevant footage was apparently hard to come by), this is a t..."



Vietcong: Purple Haze is yet another bleeding-heart chronicle of a faceless American soldier, yet another tale of a youth fraudulently lured from his beloved family and home by the empty promises of self-satisfaction purported by a finger-pointing Uncle Sam. Opening with actual black and white footage from the era, from scraggly hippies protesting the war on courthouse steps to Elvis feeding his new bride cake at their wedding (relevant footage was apparently hard to come by), this is a title that initially tries to set the mood of a period when ideologies often clashed dynamically and innocence got lost in between.

It's immediately following this introductory cinema that Purple Haze forgets it should be telling a story -- how else can a "yet another" first person shooter captivate at this point? Instead, it throws you and five comrades into a series of nineteen sloppy, unconnected, squad-based missions in the midst of the Vietnamese jungle, like countless titles have done before.

Talk about creative juices flowing.

The allure of combat across the untamed countryside of this warring nation cannot be denied though. Dangerous minefields of barbed wire and bear traps disguised in the foliage of dense forests. Monsoons downpouring buckets of water as our squadron wades through the waste high waters of an enemy trench. Venomous predators lurk in the shadowy undergrowth, ready to strike should we stray too far from the team. Disease-plagued villages full of desperate, unpredictable civilians require us to use our wits to brave and collect info on an enemy's location.

It's these kind of truly startling scenarios Purple Haze has totally ignored.

Instead of wild and exotic jungles we're given murky, damp and altogether ugly woods shaded with muddy colors. Rather than having to be on the lookout for the most ingenious of traps, all we need to do is occasionally glance down and scan for the obvious trip wire. No wildlife or civilians roam these gloomy settings, and even our armed counterparts are sparse and don't put up much resistance on most missions.

I understand the developers were striving for a melancholy tone here. I might actually appreciate it if they tried to inject some sort of creativity, either via asides giving us the mindset of our unfortunate son or simply by providing a stimulating environment. They do neither.

I can't blame them for not bothering though because the squad-based mechanics here absolutely suck -- I can't put it any more eloquently. Each member of your team has a particular job: there's the radioman, the paramedic, the gunner, the point man and the supply man, though none seem to be adequately trained. Watch as your medic decides the best time to patch you up is in the midst of a firefight. Command the point man to lead the team and watch as he tiptoes around the same bush for three minutes. You'll need to radio for a rescue copter as enemy troops put you under siege, but your radio man is just as indistinguishable as your other teammates, so you'll have to run up next to all of them to identify who they are. Because there are so many different commands, be sure to keep the instruction manual by your side so you remember what buttons to press to disarm a trap or crawl underneath a fallen oak.

This sort of stuff is nonsense.

Vietcong: Purple Haze is not moody and frightening. It's not an emotionally jarring account of the horrors of the war. It's not a game that manages to be fun by mastering the concept and mechanics of team play.

This is just another soulless, ambitionless shooter sent to market to make a quick buck.

Rating: 4/10

drella's avatar
Community review by drella (September 12, 2007)

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