If you've read our first impressions you have a fair idea of what we think of Battlefield Vietnam from a technical standpoint, so you can skip this page while we do a short re-cap.
The graphics of Battlefield Vietnam are like a miniature version of the game itself, when compared to Battlefield 1942. There are some major improvements, as is the case with the addition of pixel shaders, but these changes have limited scope. Most of the improvements are really small changes that seem more like minor updates than anything else.
The pixel shaders are used to great effect on the water and metallic textures, and improve the appearance of skin on characters, but these aren't drastic changes. Gamers are more likely to be struck by the incredible amount of textures and filler items placed on levels. Trees and bushes litter most maps, and the ground is completely covered in grass and shrub textures. Although it's not the three-level-canopy jungle of the real Vietnam, the terrain in Battlefield Vietnam is remarkably lush and rich when compared to Battlefield 1942 or almost any other game, for that matter.
When you think about it, the biggest change isn't so much the game engine as what the designers have done with it. All the foliage and junk spread around the simulated wilds of Vietnam is really more of a change in level design. Doubtless the engine has been upgraded to handle the extra textures, but there's no question that this is the Battlefield 1942 engine with nothing but a new coat of paint.
Whereas the graphics were an incremental upgrade, the sound effects are exponentially better. Every sound is crisp, clear, loud and without any sign of distortion. You'll hear a chopper's blades in the distance as its speakers scream out Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries
, and all this is almost drowned-out by the sound of tank duels, while your fire your M60 machinegun and hear the sound of shell casings hitting the ground. Bountiful is the word I'd use to describe the sound in Battlefield Vietnam, if I felt like short-changing the game.
Yet most of the game is really unchanged. The physics, motion and general style of the game engine are identical to Battlefield 1942. Vietnam also takes a cue from Desert Combat in helicopter controls, though BF:V is arguably more forgiving.
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