PS2 REVIEW: ARMY MEN RTS

If you've clicked on this review because you're interested in a RTS game, you may have come to wrong place. If you've clicked here because you are a fan of the Army Man series you may find this title is more suited for you.

Let's face it, the Army Man series is not for hardcore gamers. After all, there are people out there with a life who may not play games on a full-time basis. Army Men can offer occasional gamers with an entertaining game that will not overwhelm them with challenges. Such is the case with Army Men RTS. This is as basic as a strategy game as you can get, but it's great for beginners and would make a fun rental for those RTS fanatics who want to flex their muscles and complete a game before they even leave the rental store.

"Would like a bag for that game sir?" "No thanks, I'll play it here."

First and foremost let's set up the premise. You are involved in a war with the miniature tan army. Since all the characters are representations of little plastic army men the battles take place in some kid's house and spill out into the backyard. You will take cover behind plastic pails, dog bones, rubber ducks and various pieces of furniture in the house. You will utilize discarded toys such as bulldozers, dump trucks and of course tanks to lead your army on to victory. The game has a Honey-I-Shrunk-The-Kids feel to it with this miniature angle. It should also appease parents that their children are just killing plastic army men and not renderings of actual humans to which I ask, what's the difference? Either way it's just a videogame and we can all tell fantasy from reality can't we?

The game has a great interface and an easy-to-understand manual that doesn't bog you down in endless detail. You will learn to build, manage and engage your troops for combat. All you have to do is click on the unit that you want selected and they will be highlighted with a bubble. Then give them orders through the interface. You can get your troops to move to a certain area, attack, retreat or just wait. You will command gunners, snipers, flame-throwers and bazooka men. You can group more units together to reinforce areas that are under heavy attack. One of the things that you will realize is that the other army is stronger than yours and all things being equal in regards to troops, you will eventually lose. If you can outnumber them then you can look forward to a win. It's important to keep as many of your men alive as possible because even the weapons you have will not be enough to stop the tan army from overtaking you if you don't have the numbers.

The world is in 3D and interactive. The battle scenes are fun to watch and the camera angles are adjustable so you can see from virtually any angle. The animation is smooth and the colors are subtle enough so that you can still pick out your green guys while they're hiding in the green grass. The little plastic army men reflect light rendering them with a convincing plastic sheen.The sound effects would be considered weak in virtually any other game but becausewe're in a miniature world we can't really expect full-bodied explosions.

Army Men RTS is a good introduction to the world of the real time strategy. It never takes itself seriously and that adds to the fun. There are plenty of comical gags and interactions that will keep the player entertained. Hardcore gamers are advised to stay away from this game as it doesn't offer a tremendous challenge.

PREVIEW

The Army Men franchise has always been a better concept than a game. That's an unfortunate fact. Aside from the Air Attack series, Army Men just hasn't had the development attention that it deserved. The games have suffered from poor control, incredibly tough AI and haphazard graphics. Even the attempt at turning the series into a platform game fell shy of the intended mark as Portal Runner (starring Vickie and Leo the Lion….gag….) received poor ratings across the industry from reviewers and players alike.

Coming very soon from 3DO, the Army Men series makes another attempt at capturing the imaginations of gamers. This time however, the green plastic men o' war aren't after shooter, platfrom, action or air combat fans, oh no. They've got their plastic little green sniper rifles fixed on the Real Time Strategy crowd. And in case 3DO didn't know it, this is one tough crowd to please. In fact, it's even rare to find die hard RTS players on a console as they tend to solely exist on the PC. Oddly enough, there is a good reason for this. The PC is the best machine to handle all of the numerous management controls, whereas a console generally tends to lack all of the buttons needed to make the operation of the game a smooth and enjoyable piece of entertaining software. Considering the history of the franchise has been mostly mired in mediocrity, our hopes are actually a little higher knowing that the RTS genre might be just the one to make it work, if 3DO spends the time making darn sure the interface is intuitive.

The story is centered on Colonel Blintz, who has defected from the Green Army and is now head of the evil Tan Army. It's up to you to set things right again in the world of battling plastic toys. As in any RTS game, your job will be to manage the allocation of resources, troop formations, attackscenarios etc. From what we've been to witness to thus far, the game supports a ton of characters on screen at once, which will help the gamer blur the reality and actually get into the battlefield melee mentality.

We won't have to wait long to find out. This game is due out at the end of the month. If you are an RTS supporter and enjoy the Army Men games, it's definitely safe to say you'll be whipping out the "plastic" to own this one.

System: PS2
Dev: Pandemic Studios
Pub: 3DO
Released: March 2002
Players: 1
Review by Dan
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
3
GRAPHICS
4.5
CONTROL
3.5
MUSIC/FX
3
VALUE
2