10th February 2014

Retro Corner: Army Men

Tuan Dao plays the Toy Story spin-off about it’s smallest heroes

Army Men was one of the very first games I got the chance to play and enjoy. It was my 7th birthday present from my uncle, who was also an avid gamer. Army Men was supposedly only a spinoff from the phenomenal animation Toy Story, but the first game was so good and unique that it developed into a fan favourite.

In Army Men, you play the role of Sarge, a Green plastic soldier who commands every operation set by the Green headquarters in their war against the Tan Army. The missions are usually carried out in a huge map, with a variety of weapons and vehicles you can pick up to serve your strategy. Of course, enemies’ troops are scattered across the maps in important sections, creating fortifications that aim to prevent our hero from accomplishing the mission. The types of mission also vary, from hostage rescue to assassination.

A big plus of the game is that it does not limit your ways of achieving the objectives, creating a non-linear gameplay. You can choose from a variety of weapons to serve different strategies and approaches, whether a guerrilla attack or a full-blown rampage. It gives the game a tactical feel and makes you think, and as a kid I always felt like an actual commander ready to conquer the battlefield. I still remember a mission where Sarge was on an operation to rescue a Green official held captive in a Tan camp. There were a few tanks with many soldiers guarding the place. I called for an air bombing in the west area, divert their attention and used a few Green soldiers to keep the Tans busy there. Meanwhile, I moved my main troops with combat vehicles from the west, with me as Sarge holding a rifle sniping most of the remaining Tan soldiers near the hostage. Or alternatively, I could use a quick car to lure the tanks into my minefield before going on rampage killing the remaining Tans. Consequently, no mission is accomplished the same way, and this element is what keeps players engaged in the battle of the little plastic soldiers.

Despite being a followed-up product for Toy Story, Army Men was able to stand on its own. It was one of the good old games in the end of the 20th century, and a must-play for gamers that enjoy tactical games.

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