Army Men: Sarge's Heroes
Get to grips with some fantastic plastic!
Those of you who played with toy soldiers as a kid probably won't need telling about army men. Suffice to say there are two types of soldiers - the good green guys who were in Toy Story, and the evil tan soldiers, usually moulded into the shapes of Rommel's Afrika Korps and subjected to severe magnifying glass punishment in the summer. Now the company that brought you the 3DO console delivers a game based around these badly-moulded plastic playthings.
Let's forget about that loser console though, and look at the game, which is definitely a step in the right direction for 3DO! In Sarge's Heroes you play the star of the show, the square-chinned Sarge, who wakes up one morning to find his base being over run by the tan hordes. Led by General Plastro, they intend to dominate your world of miniature plastic men by bringing back artefacts from a foreign land - the human world!
Army Men: Sarge's Heroes is split between these two worlds across 16 missions, each of which is divided again into their own objectives. To help you find your way around the levels and between objectives you get a map in the corner of the screen. This isn't really needed because the levels are quite small, but it does prevent time wasted wandering aimlessly.
As well as the one-player missions, you get a multiplayer mode in which you can take on your mates in plastic warfare. This is great fun, but there just aren't enough options and modes of play to make you want to play it for hours on end, like you would Goldeneye or Quake II. There are loads of weapons though, which do lend themselves well to multiplayer play - none more so than the sniper rifle, which no deathmatch camper should be without.
All of the weapons in Sarge's Heroes are immensely enjoyable to use and you can tell that the developers have actually spent a bit of time thinking them over. Sure, you get all the usual shotguns, machine guns and grenades, but it is how they are used which makes the difference. Take the grenades, for example - to fire these, you hold down the Z button to pull out the pin and bring up a targeting circle. This circle can then be moved around to where you want the grenade to go, it's just a case of releasing the trigger to let the unsuspecting tan have it. Another nice feature of the weapons inventory is the mine detector, which you use to sweep for hidden enemy explosives.
All of the weapons have adequate enough effects, but it's the flamethrower which shines out - literally - above them all. It's worth running through the Training mode when you get this game just to have a play with this beast of a weapon, which spits out the fires of hell. This is also one of the more deadly weapons to use on toy soldiers, of course, because plastic melts!
What is it good for?
It's also impressive to see the lighting effects in this game from death dealers like the flamethrower. Each of the characters has been modelled with a shiny 'plastosheen' surface, which glows and glints to reflect the colours of the surrounding environment.
Using each of the guns on offer couldn't be easier, because as well as the cool cursor targeting systems there's also an auto-target feature. If your gun is pointing in the general direction of a bad guy, the gun will pick him off for you. This means you can run amok, and what great fun it is! These guys may all be plastic but that doesn't mean chunks don't fly off when they get shot!
As you take damage, an icon in the top-left of the screen next to your energy bar also shows how injured you are. A smiling green face will turn into a chipped and cracked mess by the end of most levels. This game may be aimed at the younger audiences, but there is definitely a challenge for the adults here as well. Staying alive on later levels is no easy task even on the lowest difficulty setting and stealth and discretion are definitely recommended.
The game itself would actually be slightly easier if it wasn't for the awkward camera system. The controls are easy enough to get to grips with, although by no means perfect, but when you get into the heat of battle the camera can become very annoying. An example: you run out into an open area and are attacked by two men, one in front and one behind. You kill the one ahead and turn around to kill the other, but find yourself running at the camera. The auto aim helps enormously here, but you still have to be shooting in roughly the right direction at a target you can't even see!
Another annoying thing about this game is the computer Al - on the first level after you have rescued your Colonel he follows you to the exit, but hardly uses the gun he is carrying. More irksome is the enemy Al. At times you'll be able to sneak up on them unnoticed, but sometimes they'll hear you coming a mile off. This inconsistency really does sum up the game, which has some nice touches but not enough to make it stand out from the crowd.
Army Men: Sarge's Heroes DownloadsArmy Men: Sarge's Heroes download
There's a hint of a great game in here, it has to be said. But this - the third- person N64 sequel to an underwhelming PC strategy game - is hobbled by some pretty ropey execution.
The toy soldier concept is a great one; taking control of the titular 'Sarge', you're required to lead various assaults against the Tan Army. For a military-based game, there's plenty of weaponry, from rifles and mortars, to grenade launchers, bazookas, sniper rifles, and, best of all, flamethrowers. They're mostly good fun; especially when you're trying to infiltrate a village none of the intricacy of similar systems in Wave Race and 1080° Snowboarding. And most of the tracks are so narrow that winning a race is merely a matter - к la Extreme С - of bouncing off walls until you reach the finish line. and a hulking great tank comes round the comer, or when enemy soldiers curl up and shrivel under the heat of the flamethrower.
Sarge's Heroes is packed full of neat ideas, and the move from the world of the Army Men to our world (thus making the game a cross between Micro Machines and ColdenEye) is inspired. It's just that the game is hobbled by maddeningly imprecise controls, an awful, fun-killing camera and drab, basic, foggy graphics. So, despite its promise, Sarge's Heroes is never more than mildly diverting. Ho hum.
Green and Tan are at it again. This time Tan has captured all of Bravo Company except for Sarge and Colonel Grimm. They also capture Grimm's daughter and Sarge's love, Vikki. If that isn't bad enough, Tan has also discovered portals to different parts of the world where new weapons of incredible destruction have been found. Tan has the advantage and is ready to finish off the Green army once and for all. As Sarge, you will use a large arsenal of weapons to single-handedly go up against the Tan army, free your buddies and Vikki, and put an end to Tan's evil plans. Good luck, you're going to need it.
Gameplay is similar to Tomb Raider style games. It is played in a third person perspective and involves lots of running, jumping, climbing, etc. as well as lots of shooting. For the most part the game plays nicely, except when trying to turn left or right. The biggest gripe I have about this game, and it is a major one, is that when you are running around, the camera strafes rather than follows you. This angle makes taking on any enemies that are behind you extremely difficult. The only way the camera will pan around behind Sarge is if you stop for a second or switch to the snipe view and back. As a minor consolation, you at least have local radar that will show any enemies that are within a radius the length of Sarge's range of eyesight. Since the camera angles are so horrid in this game, you actually may find yourself more often using this radar to spot enemies than trying to visually find them on the screen -- especially if they're off to the side or behind you. Unfortunately, the bad camera angle also really detracts from what is otherwise a really fun game.
Aside from the camera angle, the game control isn't that bad. The sniping feature is a nice touch -- especially when you have the sniper rifle with a scope. There are a good variety of weapons from M-16 machine guns to shotguns to grenades and grenade launchers, bazookas, mortars, mines and minesweepers, TNT, and of course any plastic soldier's worst nightmare: the flame-thrower. Each weapon is used differently and all have advantages and disadvantages as well as limited ammunition. You can also pick up medkits here and there if you can find them.
As with most games, as you progress further, the levels become increasingly difficult in addition to the challenge of finding the extra weapons, ammo, and medkits too. There are 16 missions total and each mission is played on a very large battlefield of sorts. Some missions are in the yard, others are in the living room and even in around the bathtub. Getting through these missions takes more than Sarge's strength -- you have to also use your wits to find the easiest path to your goal. Many times simply getting to your goal isn't enough, you may have to escape or escort someone someplace else on the map.
The multiplayer mode supports up to four simultaneous players depending on how many controllers are plugged in. There are several multiplayer maps that vary from wide open spaces to very tight quarters. The general gameplay is more or less the same as the single player game.
One very nice feature in this game is that it does not require a Controller Pak to save your progress between levels. If you don't have a Controller Pak, you can write down the password given at the end of the level that can be entered when you come back later to continue where you left off.
The graphics in this game are better than I would expect from an N64 game. They are a bit more detailed and crisper than normal, have very nice textures, and are bright. If you have the memory expansion, you can get even better and clearer graphics. The explosion effects are very nice and the different looks of the levels you'll fight through all add to the eye candy.
The overall sounds are average for an N64 game. I was hoping the cut scenes would have voices, but they are not present. Nothing utterly exciting here, but nothing bad either.
System Features Supported
Rumble Pak, Controller Pak, Expansion Pak, and 1-4 Players Simultaneous.
Overall this is a fun game but gets a serious dent for the camera angle as this one feature makes the game very difficult to play and detracts from the general gameplay. The multiplayer feature keeps the game alive longer even after finishing the single player game. The game's overall difficulty and length of gameplay are likely to challenge experienced game players which is why I give this game a score of 73.