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Review: Apocalypse Now and Battlefield Vietnam

May 20, 2011

Well, this has certainly been an active week, between driving my grandmother to various doctors, doing message board posts, and my continuing Battlefield Vietnam LP. And on top of all of that, now the world’s going to end tomorrow! Man, this has not been my week. I, for one, plan to go out on a high note with what might just be the last review ever for me, Apocalypse Now and Battlefield Vietnam!

Towards the end of US involvement in Vietnam, Captain Ben Willard MACV-SOG is in Saigon after an extended stay at the front, and he is not taking it well at all. Most of his day is spent drinking to excess and wrecking hotel rooms until he is recruited for a covert operation in Cambodia to terminate the  command of rogue special forces Colonel William Kurtz’s command “with extreme prejudice”.

He joins up with a PBR crew who are to take him up river. But in order to get to the river, he has to deal with the commander of the 1st of the 9th Cavalry, Lieutenant Colonel William “Wild Bill” Killgore. The colonel, a man with a deep love of surfing and the smell of napalm, initially refuses to take them because the Viet Cong hold the area where they can get to the river. But he agrees once he learns about the quality of the waves, at which point he orders a flight of choppers to assault the village, citing the precedent that “Charlie don’t surf!”

After Killgore’s pilots clear the way (to the sounds of Ride of the Valkyries, no less) , they proceed up the river, encountering, among other things, a USO show that degenerates into chaos, a civilian sampan, an NVA assault on the last US outpost on the river, a remnant of the French army in Cambodia, and finally, the village where Kurtz is holed up. He explains that he went rogue after finding out how far the Viet Cong were willing to go while on a humanitarian mission, inoculating Vietnamese children. Willard later sneaks into his room the night of a buffalo sacrifice and kills him with a machete.

I really don’t know how I managed not to see this movie until now. It’s thought of as one of the classics of New Hollywood cinema, and after seeing it, I feel that reputation is well deserved. Martin Sheen and Marlon Brando are both excellent in their respective roles, as are Dennis Hopper, Robert Duval, and then-newcomer Laurence Fishburne. If you haven’t seen it yet, go! Go watch it before the world ends!

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If you’ve been following my Let’s Play of Battlefield Vietnam, you’re probably already aware of some of my feelings on the game. But if not, then I’m here to explain it, you lazy bastards.

Battlefield Vietnam is, a multi-player game where the only real story is that of the Vietnam War. There are fourteen playable maps, each one a battle from Vietnam, from the early US Operation Game Warden in 1965 to the South Vietnamese Army retaking Quảng Trị in 1972, and the main objective is to shoot the enemy and take control points on the map. The match is over not when one side captures all the control points, but when one side loses all of their reinforcement tickets.

Honestly, the game is pretty good. The AI can be, at times, to steal a turn of phrase, “pants-on-head retarded”, especially when they try to fly, or drive tanks, or jeeps or anti-aircraft guns or when they decide to go around an easily climbable hill trying to get to a control point or when they stand out in the open while you shoot them in the face or when they accidentally shoot the ground trying to hit you or when they accidentally blow you up with a tank shell trying to shoot an enemy on the other side of a hill…other than that – or when they all jump out of a transport chopper leaving it to fall on you and explode – other than that…well, at least they’re entertaining sometimes.

Although, if you’re looking for a multi-player fps for a LAN game night, you could do a whole lot worse. Like Drug Wars.

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