Battlefield: Vietnam is the sequel to the incredibly popular Battlefield 1942. Developed by DICE and published by EA, Battlefield 1942 took the gaming world by storm when the multiplayer demo was released just in time for QuakeCon. That brilliant marketing move moved BF1942 from "Huh?" to "I'll sell my soul to get this" on gamer's wish lists. After two expansion packs, it was finally time to release a sequel.
The first thing you'll notice upon firing up BF:V is that, well, it's a lot like Battlefield 1942. Although the graphics are updated, especially with the use of pixel shaders, there is no denying the resemblance to the original. Vehicle dynamics are identical, world physics are unchanged and the animation is straight out of the first game. The use of pixel shaders and bump mapping is subtle, giving waves to water and shine to metal.
The models and animation still have their somewhat clunky Battlefield 1942 quality, but given the performance trade-offs involved in performance, this isn't a point we'd harp about. The biggest graphical improvements are actually the levels.
The terrain of Vietnam is lush and green, and the game simulates this by the use of a myriad of grass and shrub textures. The rolling hills are supplemented by a relatively rich assortment of trees and bushes, though this isn't quite the three-layered tropical forest canopy that was made famous by the war itself. This is supplemented by a great swath of huts, sheds and lean-tos that pepper the landscape. If there's one thing that Battlefield Vietnam doesn't lack, it's cover.
You'll need that cover, too. Air power is a serious factor in the game. Not only does each team usually have a pair or two of jets, but helicopters now supplement them. Such a preponderance of air power would make life quite difficult for the average grunt on the ground, if not for the extra cover provided by the terrain.
To combat that air power, most of which is focused on the American side, the North Vietnamese Army has hand-held surface to air missiles and anti-aircraft tanks like the ZSU. On several maps the NVA is also capable of fielding its own aircraft, like the MiG-17, MiG-21 jets and Mi-8 helicopter. However, guided air-to-air missiles are exclusive to the F-4 Phantom. All other jets must make do with cannon. The cannon are much more powerful than aircraft mounted machine guns were in BF1942, but hitting your enemies is more difficult, given the high speeds everyone is flying at.