Can it be true...a good Army Men game?
The Army Men games are like Van Damme movies. One cannot deny the similarities. First, they're mostly all bad. Second, they're poorly directed. Third, just when you think you've seen the last one, another one pops up.
And like Van Damme movies, the Army Men series is good in concept but poor in execution. A game based on the little green army men we all played with in the backyard seems brilliant. As the General, I remember losing many a good man to the enemy via vicious attack dogs (household pets), napalm (hairspray and matches), and explosives (firecracker taped on army man). It's really too bad these games have stunk.
When I was assigned Army Men: Air Attack 2, I reflected on my past experience with the series and was mentally preparing to give the game a big, fat F. But to my surprise, 3DO has created a decent (if unspectacular) game based on the green menace.
The player assumes the role of Captain William Blade of the green army, whose duty it is to commandeer the vital plastic needed to create green soldiers. His arch nemesis is a tan fighter ace feared by the green and tan army alike, named (ugh) Baron Von Beige. Worst name ever.
Most of the Army Men games are third-person action romps - just picture Tomb Raider, turn Lara into a green army guy, take away the moves, make the graphics suck, and presto. However, the Air Attack series is a different (and better) approach to the franchise.
Like the original Air Attack, this one has you cruising around in an helicopter blasting baddies like a madman. Captain Blade pilots various types of helicopters, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. The goal is kept simple: shoot everything tan and collect plastic.
Each whirlybird offers three weapons, guns, missiles, and a special weapon specific to the co-pilot. In this aspect, Air Attack 2 might not appeal to those who are accustomed to shooters with a larger arsenal. Still, there's something to be said for simplicity.
Although other Army Men games suffer from graphical retardation, Air Attack 2 breaks the mold and is actually pleasing to the eye. While the opening FMV is a tad glitchy, the game itself looks great. The areas and vehicles are extremely smooth and Captain Blade's helicopter flows nicely with a burly framerate. The shadow effects are also worth noting, even changing to suit the variation in terrain.
The controls are simple and easy to grasp - pretty much anything with opposable thumbs can play this game. And considering the prodigious amount of carnage ahead, good control is a big plus.
Air Attack 2 offers a two-player game and provides a split screen for co-op missions. I've seen nice looking games go to hell when a split-screen comes into the picture, but fortunately very little is lost here.
Which brings me to one of the few gripes I have, canyons. Those accustomed to flight games are used to a big, free roaming arena. Although the stages are large, they are also very linear. Throughout the game there is almost always a barrier on each side to prevent wreaking havoc on the targets of your choosing. Instead you pilot on sort of a track and deal with enemies as they come.
If there's one thing I can't stand it's horrible dubbing. More often than not, voice talents for video games sound like they should stick to Kung Fu Theater. However, 3DO actually hired actors to portray the characters and it's not as bad as it could have been.
Air Attack is reminiscent of Soviet and Nuclear Strike for the Playstation and PC, and is recommended for fans of either series. For all the Army Men fans out there, you both need to get this game. As for the rest of you, this is a great rental. Although it is has good graphics and decent gameplay, I doubt you would be happy slappin' down 50 clams for it.