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.
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
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.