Vietcong came out last year fairly quietly, it suffered many problems that turned a lot of gamers away before it had really had chance to take hold in the market, what was left was a hardcore following that has grown as recent patches and fixes have come about to improve performance and help troubled gamers getting it to run on there system.
So now Fist Alpha is released as the first add on pack to Vietcong, it contains new weaponry, multiplayer maps and a (albeit shorter) new single player campaign.
Before we begin, its probably advisable to go and read WoLf's review of vietcong as he will cover a hell of a lot of things I have to say and it saves me repeating some very good writing:
So Fist Alpha is set around the same time as Vietcong, 1967, based around the Vietnam war, its become the new game developers WW2, as about a year ago we were overrun with World War 2 games, it looks set that over 2004, Vietnam is going to be the new war of choice, with games slated for PS2 and Xbox such as Conflict Vietnam and Shellshock Nam 67 for later in the year, its handy that the VC add on pack will bring it fresh into the mind of gamers at this early stage.
VC FA is a really stylish game, the cutscenes and accompanying music and style are very similar to the filmography of films such as Platoon, Full Metal Jacket and Apocalypse Now, its a very well constructed and realistic game that will not disappoint.
I've been out of the game loop PC wise for a year or so now, I joined the ranks of Apple and as we all know, games aren't all that common in design land, so i tended to stick to my consoles. When i was handed the chance to play FA on Jenksy's very flash and powerful new PC i was a little sceptical, I hadn't controlled a game using a mouse for a while and was shocked and depressed to learn that my once bold claim of "control pads suck, give me a mouse and keyboard and i'd have kicked your ass there!" was reduced to nothing as i longed for my R3 stick and my shoulder buttons.
VC is a very fast learning curve, its possibly one of the greatest and most intense war simulations I have ever played. Imagine taking your standard First person shooter, filling all the levels with dense undergrowth and then trying to shoot someone. If you can see them you have to compete with tree stumps, boulders hills, rivers and all sorts of obstacles that Charlie will hide behind and snipe at you. This game is tough and I love it!
Missions in Single player are varied, you start steadily in a mission to find a downed pilot, the replay value to levels is good, I played this mission 2 or 3 times after completing it and each time the pilot had ejected in different places, once he was hiding, once he was unconscious injured and once he'd been captured by the VC and I had to snipe the guard with a gun to his head with a wholly inaccurate rifle. Guards take different patrol routes, will detour if they hear gunfire and will generally kick your ass from long distance if you decide to be a bit gung-ho and play this game quake style. The gameplay is much more similar to Metal Gear or Splinter Cell in a way, whilst not being stealthy its more advisable to sneak closer to the enemy rather than opening fire the moment you see him. (A crouched soldier, leaning his rifle on a tree will hit far more accurately than a running grunt spraying bullets everywhere)
Combat missions vary from being a gunner in a helicopter providing support to landing soldiers, to being a sniper defending a base under attack to a stealthy, can't alow yourself to be seen until the radio encampment is destroyed, type missions. Its varied and interesting gameplay that keeps a single player campaign alive. However, as with most games now the single player game isn't where the action is:
WOW! just simply WOW!!! a lot of games now are having to consider that it is the majority, rather than the minority, that have broadband connections now and demand online gaming, and vietcong doesn't disappoint. If you thought enemy AI was bad in dense unclear foliage then try it with another 50 human players, it makes for some of the most entertaining and most satisfying gaming I have ever undertaken. Making a kill in the jungle fills you with a real sense of achievement as it is never easy to do.
The multiplayer has been well constructed with many different game modes and options (again refer to wolf's review of the original game to read about all of these) all in all making it well worth the additional money for an add on pack
For those of you who haven't bought the original VC its available as a complete bundle with Fist Alpha, look for the Title Vietcong: Purple Haze.
There are very few things i can pick fault with a game such as VC FA, its difficult for me to assess as I am, for the most part, completely console based, I wonder when I am assessing the games flaws whether it's a bug in the game or just a problem that is specific to my PC i'm playing on. Also I have to consider how people with less powerful machines would cope with this game. All in all, VC Fist Alpha is a strong, well constructed add on pack that wholly improves the original VC game, I recommend both wholeheartedly and really hope that more additional add on packs and sequel's will follow.