Army Men: Sarge's Heroes
Since 3DO hasn't seen fit to flood the DC with Army Men games, Midway picked up the slack. This shooter doesn't quite push the Dreamcast, but it offers four-player split-screen action, better graphics (not by much, so calm down) and an improved framerate from the PS version. Still, it's Army Men, so if you dig it, that's good, if you don't, this isn't likely gonna change your mind! Sarge's Heroes ships this fall.
Download Army Men: Sarge's Heroes
If Toy Commander is the 'right' way to do a toy game, then it has to be said that Sarge's Heroes is off the mark somewhat. I really love the story and the premise...the idea of toy soldiers moving between the 'real world' and their own and using every day objects as weapons of mass destruction is better than your average trash. Unfortunately though, the game is let down by a bunch of stupid little problems that make it a real joypad-hurler. Worst of the niggles is the fact that the control/camera combo is quite spectacularly crap. It seems to take your input as more of a hint as to what you want to do rather than an actual command and then refuses to keep the camera focused properly on the action. The crappy frame-rate doesn't help things either--even with the expansion pak. As far as gameplay goes, the enemy Al seems unnervingly erratic. While the enemy soldiers seem to be pretty dumb for the majority of the time, as soon as they know you're near they lock on to you with superhuman accuracy. The Al in the escort missions sucks too...there's nothing worse than running along, dodging bullets thinking your charge is in tow, only to turn around and realize that he's miles behind you stuck on the corner of some object. Argh...just thinking about it makes me angry. It's a nice try, but it ain't great.
Why do games with good concepts tend to have one or two fatal flaws that could've been avoided? The control and camera are my gripes for Sarge's Heroes. The graphics are darned good--so is the animation in most instances--but the touchy control and flaky camera will annoy you more often than not. Sad to say, even with a great concept and a number of well-designed, fun-to-play missions, it's best to avoid buying this one. Give it a rent though.
This game looks good, packs a cool story and oozes authentic battlefield conditions (big explosions, chaotic troops, etc.). And then the whole thing's spoiled by one of the worst game cameras ever. The damn camera is just too slow to pan in the direction you need. Zooming way out helps, but then the game gets choppy. If you can deal with all that frustration, you'll be rewarded with some decent missions. Too bad multiplayer isn't more exciting.
Sarge's Heroes has a few fatal flaws which kill what would otherwise be a hit. Control is horrible. I turn the corner, see some tan soldier, turn...and while turning I try to shoot them. Oops, can't do that. If you're ever surrounded, you're screwed because there's no easy way to turn around. Almost everything about this game is sluggish. The story and characters are cool, and I have no complaint with the graphics, but it could've used better control!
It has to be said that the first Army Men game to hit the consoles (Army Men 3D on PlayStation) wasn't that great. Although fundamentally a pretty neat idea, it had a list of problems as long as your arm and a plot with holes in it the size of the Grand Canyon. Sarge's Heroes is kind of a second attempt for 3DO. The basic idea is the same...an action game where the plastic soldiers (green and tan) battle it out--but this time it's carried out in a more believable setting.
The story line is actually not at all bad. The evil leader of the tan army has found a way to move between the "Army Men" world (to their scale) and "our" world--where he is stealing items which can be used as weapons of mass destruction. Your job as "Sarge" is to stop them from bringing magnifying glasses and bug zappers into the mini-universe where they'll be used to melt the Green army once and for all.
As you can see from the shots--this all takes place in a third-person perspective 3D shooter. The majority of the environments are pretty huge--and when set in "our" world they have a certain Micro Machines quality about them...cartoonyand suitably huge.
To go along with the story "arc," Sarge also has to rescue a number of comrades who have been captured by the tan forces. Rescuing each mate will reward him by adding a new ability to his arsenal; using a bazooka, a mortar thingy and even a mine detector.
You run around, you shoot at stuff, you do a bit of crawling about, a bit of sniping, you jump in some vehicles and drive about (using a control system that has been thankfully overhauled since the PlayStation game--which was as effective as a chocolate kettle) and you admire the nice graphics (which, incidentally, run in hi-res using the RAM pak, and have Gran Turismo-style specular highlights throughout to give everything a shiny, plastic toy-like appearance).
If the one-player mission isn't enough, Sarge's Heroes also comes in multiplayer flavor, and is apparently (according to 3DO) the first third-person, four-player game on the N64. Both deathmatch and co-op games are on the menu and from what little we've seen, it looks like it might be fun. This was the saving grace of the PlayStation game, so let's hope the team continues the tradition.
- MANUFACTURER - 3DO
- THEME - ACTION
- NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1-4
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.
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 - ê la Extreme C - 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.
If you've never melted a toy soldier with a magnifying glass, you may miss the point of Sarge's Heroes. In this spin-off of Army Men, Sarge's Heroes lets you take your plasticidal tendencies into the real world where you'll play as the two-inch-tall green-plastic hero, Sarge, battling the tan army in 14 levels, which include the kitchen, hallway, and backyard. You can find over 13 weapons, too, such as a magnifying glass, spray cans, and more. It looked good in its early form at the show--already much better than Army Men on the PlayStation.
If you were the kind of kid that enjoyed melting your plastic army f men or setting them up for combat in the car, kitchen, or bathtub, then you'll get a chance to relive your childhood with Sarge's Heroes--except now you get to see them blasted into millions of plastic pieces or crumple into a melted mess. Even better.
Stars and Tripe
Sarge's Heroes, which follows the premise of the earlier Army Men 3D for the PlayStation (in which you hunt down and destroy the Tan army), breaks new ground in its search for interactive environments. You take the fight into the home as your miniaturized soldiers shoot it out on the shores of the bathroom, in bedroom trenches, and on kitchen battlefields.
Sporting much-improved graphics over the PlayStation version, Sarge's Heroes' smooth look and clean details make the game more enjoyable, and ultimately, much more realistic. You'll see tanks go up in blistering flames while you take down enemies with a super-powerful sniper scope and even use a shotgun for close combat. The variety of weapons and well-illustrated backgrounds also make the game more fun than the PlayStation experience.
Sarges sound is a mixed bag. There are some ear-crunching explosions, nice ambient chopper and tank sounds...and not much else. The game could've used some battlefield radiochatter or even a yell or two of "Incoming!"--instead you're left with a tame arena of death where a cough might set off a fi refight.
A Casualty of War
The control is where this battle gets overwhelmed. Switching between weapons is easy; crouching, strafing, and rolling effectively are somewhat harder--but moving your character so he's not constantly in the line of fire garners a dishonorable discharge. The camera veers so far to the left or right (often becoming hung up in the scenery) that you may find yourself running in wide circles just to avoid a bullet in the ass.
Atheist in a Foxhole
And that's where the game leaves you--wounded. With a better control set, Sarge's Heroes could have been a four-star game instead of the career colonel it turns out to be. War is hell. Sarge's Heroes is heck.
- In the first bathroom level, nail the Tan soldier on the rubber duck and the one perched high up on the soap dish.
- Use tree cover to assess situations and for sniping.
- Use oil barrels to your advantage. A chain-reaction explosion is sometimes enough to destroy a tank.
- When rescuing Shrap, exit the gated areas or you will be captured.
- In the Riff Rescue level, clear out as many Tans as you can with the sniper rifle. Get to a high ledge and crawl to the edge, then pick them off.
- At the end of the Hoover level, there's a swarm of Tan soldiers right at the portal entrance that won't appear until you get close.
Much better than those in Army Men 3D on the PlayStation, the graphics in Sarge's Heroes shine like the Fourth of July. (Well, a very foggy Fourth, maybe.)
Maybe the programmers thought "more" was hell, and thus opted for "less." The sounds are solid, but where are the tiny plastic screams of agony, or at least the cry for a medic?
If a real army moved like this, the war would be over in a day. Bad camera angles. bad movement, jerky controls--you'll shoot yourself in the foot to get out of this chicken outfit.
Sarge is still large and in charge, but you have to wade through a lot of muck to get to the medal, especially with the controls. Master those, and you shall return for respectable levels of fun.