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Army Men: Sarge's Heroes
Platform:  Nintendo 64
# of Players:  1-4
Developer:  3DO
Publisher:  3DO
Features:  Rumble Pak, Expansion Pak compatible
Ratings:  Everyone
Memory Req.:  
Info:  http://www.3do.com
I can't hate this game. I try and I try to, but some outer-worldly force keeps drawing me back to it. I don't understand! There's so much to abhor in Army Men: Sarge's Heroes!

I picked up this game in the hopes that it would be something in the vein of Syphon Filter or even Metal Gear Solid. How very, very wrong I was.

Army Men: Sarge's Heroes has almost nothing that would make it an outstanding game. The graphics are bland and uninspired even with the expansion pack. This game is probably the single most frustrating game that I've played this year. It's not that this game is bad from beginning to end. In fact, there are times where the game works really well, but these great moments are few and far between the bad elements of the game. The most frustrating part of the game is trying to decide whether you like it or not.

Sarge's Heroes was spawned from an original PC strategy game called Army Men. The PSX soon picked up the license and Army Men 3D was released. Sargešs Heroes plays like Army Men 3D in that the game is more action based than the original, but with a few strategy elements. While games like Metal Gear Solid and Syphon Filter have pulled this off admirably, Army Men: Sarge's Heroes falls short.

First of all, what's the point of sneaking around when the enemies are too stupid to even react to you. They don't react when their comrades are gunned down right next to them. While these primate enemies may appeal to some, it causes the game to become boring and repetitive way too quickly. Also the lack of a mid-level save function really hurts. You can get really far in a level, unscathed, but then if you run into one of the many random, rampaging tanks, and you die you've got to repeat the whole boring process over again. Wow. Even writing about it makes it sound tiring.

The graphics aren't too bad. They're sharp and characters animate nicely, but they lack detail so the expansion pack option is almost useless. Slowdown also plagues the game in high-resolution too. I recommend, even if you're using the ex-pack, to play the game at its regular resolution. The game plays with an over-the-shoulder view much like Body Harvest. While this worked with Body Harvest, there are too many things that can block the view of your character like trees and/or buildings. At this point, the game becomes almost unbearable. You'll be spinning around, shooting at enemies that are basically invisible and you have no idea in which direction you're facing.

The sound and music are your token wargame fare. Lots of triumphant sounding music that makes you feel like you're taking part in the invasion of Normandy. Unfortunately, the actual game makes you feel like you're taking part in an LSD experiment with American soldiers. The sound effects mimic standard gunshots and explosions adequately. The voices, however, make characters sound more like Homer Simpson than a dying soldier. Doh!

I can tell that Army Men: Sarge's Heroes was not meant to be taken seriously, but that can be no excuse for making a bad game. The control is unacceptable. It's way too floaty and inaccurate. Even the simple task of turning your character around is so difficult that they could've made a game out of it called Army Men: Turning Around So You Don't Get Killed. Not good.

In the end though, certain elements of the game do shine through. The army men have a certain endearing quality to them. The mission-based levels are so incredibly hard to complete because of the game's shortcomings, but after you're done you feel like you've done the right thing. It's such a peculiar experience. I can't explain it. I should hate the characters too, but I just can't. I kinda care about Sarge even though level, after level I'm almost at the brink of tossing the controller at the screen. I can't understand why I keep coming back... man, this game is frustrating.

Robert Cirkeljirque


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