Battlefield: Vietnam manages to capture the confused mayhem of jungle warfare while completely sidestepping all of the underlying issues that made the conflict a political mire. There are a whole slew of Viet-games coming out over the next 12 months or so, many of which split their time between entertainment and more meaningful messages, but Battlefield: Vietnam just delivers a relatively authentic combat simulator that is more sandbox army men than it is Full Metal Jacket or Platoon.
The game has no mission-based play at all, instead it offers up single and multiplayer combat set on a series of well-crafted maps. The single player games are filled with friendlies and enemies controlled by the computer. While it provides a good place to master the basics, this mode of play quickly loses its appeal once you've learned game play.
Multiplayer however is another story all together, supporting up to 64 players at the same time who take on the roles of U.S. forces and the Viet Cong.
What really makes this game such a blast to play is the developers' understanding the importance of vehicles and aircraft in the Vietnam War. You can control or just catch a ride on everything from Jeeps and tanks to helicopters and jets. Many of the vehicles also have weapon systems that can be controlled by the driver or other players in the vehicle.
The weapons selection is also uniquely Vietnam with guerrilla weapons like punji sticks and caltrops. You can even use enemy engineers to dig tunnel spawns in the center of U.S. military camps.
Music also plays a big role in setting the stage in this game. With Viet-era hits and the voices of U.S. and Vietnamese propaganda blaring over the loud speakers, it really helps to remind you where you are playing. The graphics aren't exactly cutting edge, but the use of well rendered foliage and very rugged and believable terrain, more than making up for the par character art.
All in all Battlefield: Vietnam is a fun and engrossing shoot-em-up that does nothing to tackle the deeper issues of Vietnam. There's nothing wrong with that and if you're spoiling for a modern warfare fight, this is the game for you.