Vietcong: Purple Haze is a first-person shooter that just can’t seem to make up its mind. At some points, the game seems to be more in favor of the realism found in Rainbow Six. However, the gameplay will then flip to a much more run and gun style gameplay similar to Call of Duty. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do a very good job with either. On top of its indecision, Purple Haze is filled with flaws that just make the game feel as is if it were rushed out of development much too early. The game is not unplayable but these flaws really keep the game from being very fun.
As I stated earlier Vietcong: Purple Haze is a game that really can’t seem to decide what it wants to be. For instance, you will find yourself talking to your radioman to get an update, using your map to call in air strikes, or following your point man who is searching for traps and enemy activity. Yet, all this really has no benefit as you could very easily run ahead without your team, go around the traps, and never use the air strikes. This run and gun strategy works just as well as playing the way they recommend and is a bit more fun. From this, it might seem that Purple Haze allows for many different styles of playing, but the game really doesn’t have enough depth for this to be true. Whether you choose a tactical approach or simply charge the enemy with your guns blazing, you will find the gameplay rife with errors, and this makes Purple Haze a very mediocre shooter at best.
The game feels like it was rushed, this becomes painfully apparent through the many flaws that even the most casual gamers can pick out. For starters, the AI is virtually non-existent. Playing through a level twice will make this horribly obvious. Your teammates will still think a trap is set even if you had run ahead and disarmed it. Enemies behind a rock won’t notice that you just used a very loud grenade to kill some of their comrades. This is only scratches the surface, playing just one level will bring the lack of AI into focus. The AI isn’t the only flaw to be found either. Something you will notice very quickly is that whether you are playing single player or on Xbox Live a space on the corner of the screen lets you know if you are signed into Live. Also, for some reason you can’t create multiple save files. Every time, you save during a level—which you can do anywhere—the same file is automatically overwritten. Thinking about hopping off the five-foot high rock your standing on? Well if you do, that Special Forces unit of yours is dead. You will also notice the strange omission of a quick weapon switch. For a while I was convinced that I just was overlooking how to do that, but strangely the feature just isn’t there. This is only a small list of the flaws found within Purple Haze and all of them add up rather quickly and really keep Purple Haze no where close to all the other first-person shooters that have hit the market recently.
The visuals in Vietcong: Purple Haze are laughable even when compared to games released several years ago. Everything but the main menu of Purple Haze looks faded and dull. There also seems to be a permanent fog set over the levels to hide the very small draw distance. This can make sniping almost pointless because if they are far enough away to bother sniping, you can’t see them. I’m not really sure why the draw distance would need to be so small, there isn’t much detail to the game that would cause the frame rates to drop. All the textures are poorly detailed and everything seems bland. This causes a lot of problems in recognizing your team members from the enemy, especially on Live. The character models themselves, while not horrible, don’t come close to competing with today’s games. Like many other aspects of the game, the visuals just come across as mediocre.
Despite the Hendrix inspired title, you won’t find much in the way of sound either. The music does have a very late 60’s feel to it and is pretty good. Unfortunately, you will only hear it on the menu screens and sometimes during the short cutscenes. Purple Haze makes a lot of references to 60’s rock, so you would think that you get to hear some good rock when you’re running through the jungle. But, all you will hear is silence in the way of music. The sound effects really aren’t anything that will make up for this lack of music either. Most of the guns sound basically the same, and the sound won’t do anything to impress you. Even the grenades sound like firecrackers, unless you get too close, then you just get that nice high pitched noise with some temporary deafness. After hearing some nice music on the menus, my ears were very disappointed with the in-game sounds. Yet, the sound was definitely not the low point of the game.
After all its flaws, Vietcong: Purple Haze comes out as a very mediocre shooter in a market of excellent shooters. The gameplay allows you to choose how you would like to play, but this doesn’t seem like it adds anything to the experience and the lack of depth doesn’t require a second way of playing through the game. The flaws you will notice when playing through Purple Haze are too numerous to name and just really keep you from having a good time. The graphics are sub-par at best and don’t hold up well to today’s games. Although I did enjoy the music when it was present, it did not show up often enough and the sound affects during the game did nothing to set the mood. It doesn’t take long to realize that Vietcong: Purple Haze could have been much better with some more time in development, and can really only be considered a mediocre game.