Vietnam MedEvac14 Oct 2003 0
There seems to be a resurgence of interest in the Vietnam conflict, not from an historical standpoint but from a gaming one. Perhaps this is a result of developers flooding the market with World War II games of every kind. This new trend began with a series of value-priced titles, which were mediocre at best, and continues with the announcement of the more promising Battlefield: Vietnam. An expansion to the well received first-person shooter Vietcong entitled Fist Alpha is also in development.
There have been very few games, however, that cover the air war over Vietnam. Jane's Advanced Tactical Fighters and some mods for Microsoft Flight Simulator are all that come to mind, and these sims focused on fixed wing aircraft. There is no doubt that air power played a crucial role in Vietnam, primarily for delivering devastating payloads of ordnance. Still, a soldier's best friend had to be the UH-1 helicopter, or "Huey." The Army's airborne workhorse during the Vietnam era, their pilots performed a host of varied tasks, including evacuation of the wounded, delivery of reinforcements and ammunition, as well as provided covering fire when ground troops found themselves in tight spots. In all, over 4,800 Hueys were shot down by Communist forces, sadly epitomizing their crucial role.
Vietnam MedEvac is a game devoted to this helicopter and the missions it undertook. It is a part of the Search and Rescue series, which simulated civilian rescue aircraft. While the game is not a high budget title with a shiny coat and a plethora of options, it does treat its material with respect. Furthermore, it is interesting to see a war game that is not afraid to focus on something other than combat.
Presentation and Plot
Since Vietnam MedEvac isn't about blowing things up, the pace of the game is much slower. There are times when speed is of the essence, such as when rushing wounded soldiers to a field hospital, but for the most part time is on the gamer's side.
There is a small combat aspect to the game, however. Some missions involve dropping off reinforcements or picking up wounded soldiers amidst firefights. For these missions, the player can utilize the helicopter's side-mounted M-60 machine gun. There are options for automatic fire or manual control. The gun feels right with a proper amount of recoil, but it takes a remarkable amount of enemy gunfire to bring down this game's Huey. Consequently, there is little sense of danger in these situations.
This essentially leaves us with a civilian rescue simulation in a Vietnamese setting. More problematic, there is no story, as in Vietcong. Instead, there is a series of missions that are tied together through a simple campaign structure that tracks mission points (based on performance) and the amount of time one has flown (increasing the player's rank).
The campaign strings together the missions, of which there are over one hundred. The player can choose to play this with or without an immortal pilot, in other words, the ability to replay a mission. Otherwise, the campaign ends if the pilot dies. This makes for some suspenseful moments, especially if a gamer is fifty missions into the campaign and has to rescue people from a precarious hillside. All missions can be accessed from the start if the gamer chooses to forego the campaign or practice a particularly tough mission.