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A.P.I Review: Army Men 3D
Developer: 3DO OPTIONS: S.SHOT
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: 3DO 1-2 Player
Game Type: Strategy Memory Card
Review Date: April 1999 Dual Shock/Analog Compatible

Setting the Scene

Perhaps some of our older readers will remember the days when pastimes involved activities that didn't require connection to the electricity supply. In those times we didn't need 32-bits to enjoy our battle games. All that was required was a rusty tin box filled with two inch high plastic soldiers, a bit of wasteland and a fair amount of imagination.

Suddenly the over-grown garden grass became the dense jungles of Burma. A muddy bed of weeds was transformed into the sweaty swamps of Vietnam. The top of our back steps became the perfect parachute launching site, while the washing line provided an ingenious short-cut over 'cat poo terrain.'

I have yet to come across a 'toy soldiers' video game that comes anywhere near the combat experience of my youth. Although a cracking game, Command & Conquer is much too polished. Besides, you are left feeling more like a general issuing orders from the Pentagon rather than a Lone Soldier out in the killing fields (no pun intended towards that rather crap Playstation game).

Army Men 3D just about hits the nail on the head. This game looks and feels like you are actually playing with plastic soldiers and toy tanks as you undertake a series of missions that even John Rambo would struggle to survive. Army Men 3D gives you an insight into what would happen if Action Man should come to life and began using 'real' bullets among varied and treacherous terrain.

Sound & Vision

The short intro involves a short, crackly, black and white movie which acts more like a public information film used to gather recruitments into the forces. I interpret the public information message to be something like... 'Come on, be a man! Join up with the toy soldiers and see the inside of a rusty tin box!'

Upon the first mission loading up I was initially surprised by the standard of the in-game graphics. The entire terrain has been smoothly sculptured from seamless polygons providing a highly detailed and richly cultivated battle ground. Comparisons could be made to PSX titles such as Wargames and more recently Akuji.

There are several styles of environment including a sparse dusty desert, misty wooded hillsides and snowy mountainous regions. Occasional scenery gradually appears on the horizon as you move forward but this doesn't seem to affect the gameplay and generally pop-up is kept to a minimum.

In practice mode the enemy troops not only looks like a selection of cardboard cut-outs... they ARE a selection of cardboard cut-outs. However once the main game has begun all enemies come to life and move around the terrain at a commendable speed.

The enemy are the 'Yellow Team' who are dressed completely in khaki. This hides them well in the desert but they tend to stand out more in the mountains. The soldier that the player controls is decked out in full green camouflage kit while his health bar is an ingenious icon of a plastic soldier that gradually gets chipped away with each bullet taken.

The visual effects are fairly well handled with flak trailing from each bullet fired. A direct hit on an enemy produces a little puff of smoke which acts as an assurance that the soldier has been taken out. I was suitably impressed by the missile explosions as a bright orange ball of flame gradually changes into a cloud of dense black smoke.

The sound effects work well with each bullet pinging on connection with a solid surface while a dull thud is given off when a body is hit. Should your soldier die on the battlefield he yells a painful scream that fades off into the distance as the screen resets. As your soldier scampers across the terrain the pit-a-pat of feet can be distinctly heard over the whistling wind that blast through the open canyons. The military background music only comes to the forefront as mission briefing are presented and at the option screen.


Gameplay modes include Bootcamp and Mission. Bootcamp is basically a practice mode in which the player can practice firing all weapons, driving each vehicle and getting to grips with the control pad.

Each button on the joypad may be configured to your liking with motions such as rolling, ducking, firing, turning, adjusting camera and cycling weapons. Shooting the chosen weapons involves a quick press of the fire buttons but to obtain full control of the soldier the roll button must be practiced to perfection. Once mastered the player can dash across open terrain, dive for cover behind a rock. He can then roll quickly out, shoot a few rounds and then roll back behind the rock to avoid incoming fire. After a while you really feel as if you are really involved in combat warfare of the plastic soldier variety.

The duck and roll buttons can also be used to crouch down and crawl forwards or backwards. This allows the soldier to sneak up on enemy camps and snipe a few sentries before charging into their base with all-guns-a-blazing. It's not stealth as we know it... more of a good old arcade style shooting romp through the hillsides with a little strategic movement required to succeed.

The missions range from simple tasks such as reaching a specific land mark or taking out a specific tower, to the more involved objectives for example trailing spies and discharging minefields. On the screen a helpful radar map highlights targets and enemy positions in the near vicinity. By using a collected reconnaissance call up the entire screen can be highlighted for a few seconds... just enough to plan your route through the gaps in enemy positions.

The soldier begins with a standard issue rifle but upgrades can be collected. These are scattered across each level hidden in crates which contain goodies such as hand grenades, rocket launchers, flame throwers and mine detectors. Health power ups are also available.

Military hardware appears on many levels. Come across one and your soldier can climb on board delights such as tanks and jeeps. Unfortunately the control of these vehicles are crap. When using the analog pad it proves impossible to stop your vehicle from weaving in all directions uncontrollably, while in digital mode you must press both up and a direction to get it to move at all. Then when a rock, or a bush, or even a twig gets in the way the vehicle seems to stall and gets jammed in the scenery. Best leave well alone.

This aside Army Men 3D offers a fairly stern challenge. As you advance through the game each mission becomes harder and more involved. Unfortunately the save feature can only be used at the end of a mission therefore one slip and it's all the way back to the start. To counteract this there are three difficulty levels.

GRAPHICS: 17/20 Overall I enjoyed Army Men 3D. The stealth may not be in the same mould as MGS or Syphon Filter but it does offer an entertaining challenge.

The graphics and sound effects are very good but the gameplay suffers from a few annoyances such as the vehicle control. I often left the vehicle in a ditch and marched the entire level on foot, which kind of made a mockery of the objective.
SOUND: 7/10
VALUE: 15/20


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