Title  : Army Men World War: Land, Sea, Air
Platforms  : Sony PlayStation
Publisher  : 3DO
ESRB Rating  : Teen
Game Rating  : 4.6
Review by  : Ken Gagne

Declare war on your Sony PlayStation. Just insert 3DO's Army Men World War: Land, Sea, Air, and you'll be in for one of the most trying periods of your life. 

In Army Men, the green, plastic, toy soldiers that you played with as a kid are at war with the evil Tan soldiers. The game opens with a World War II-style news reel, which sets the atmosphere for the rest of the game: hiding in foxholes, avoiding mortar blasts, diving for cover and picking off Tan soldiers. Most gameplay occurs from a 3D over-the-shoulder perspective, similar to Tomb Raider. 

As soldiers get shot, plastic bits go flying until they are whittled down to death. The toy nature of the characters is not intended to suggest this is a children's game; in fact, it seems a clever way to censor some otherwise bloody and brutal scenes. Body parts will go flying, regardless. 

The one-player mode sends players on a variety of missions on all fronts. Some levels feature manning the guns on planes, tanks, and jeeps from a first-person perspective. 

A two-player mode uses classic Capture the Flag rules. This mode can be fun, but only if you're not concentrating on winning. Some tight level designs make it impossible to avoid your opponent, especially since killing him sends him back to his base, and your goal. 

Whether you're fighting a friend or those silly Tans, toy soldiers are as much your enemy as the controls. Turning left and right is too slow, and holding down the Circle button turns you too fast. It's easy to get stuck on a barrier while running from one cover to the next. The crouch button doesn't work on its own, though it has no other purpose. Popping out from behind protection to shoot at Tans will put more than a few plastic chips in your shoulder, since you'll need to aim finely to ensure your shots clear both your cover and the enemy's. Bullets and grenades don't always land where expected, which may be realistic, but these are plastic soldiers! Is this game trying to be realistic or not? 

Even the menu interfaces are less than responsive, and in-game status messages aren't always accurate. If "Green has the Tan flag" and Green is killed, which returns the flag to Tan's base, another message that "Green has the Tan flag" will be displayed — possibly overlapping another message. 

Other than the opening news reel, the presentation is merely adequate. The realistic sound effects of flying bullets and raining mortar shells fill the vacuum left by the silent soundtrack. The scenery is painted with greens and browns that make it easy to spot Tan soldiers and item pickups. 

While Army Men's theme may make it inappropriate for children, neither its gameplay nor its implementation make it suitable for most other audiences. A frustrating experience in getting mowed down (be it your fault or the controls), this is one game that isn't worth fighting over. 


This article is copyright (c) 2000, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.

Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 16-Oct-00