Review of Operation Flashpoint Campaign:
Download here: http://operationflashpoint.filefront.com/file/The_Last_Months_In_Vietnam;47441
"The Last Months In Vietnam"
"The Last Months In Vietnam" is a Vietnam war campaign for Operation Flashpoint made by Warrior X [Zeus].
The first word that comes to mind when I think about my experience with this campaign is "atmospheric".
I found it to be very atmospheric, with many lovingly created cinema scenes and level intros set to evocative
music from the 1960s and 1970s, including Vietnam War era protest music. Unlike the original
Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis levels which featured lots of open terrain and pitched epic
battles between the Soviet Union and United States, "The Last Months In Vietnam" features maps dense
with vegetation and jungle, complete with small villages, ruined French plantations, and sandbagged military
fortifications. Ambush, concealment, and even insurgency and booby traps work together to beautifully realize
the author's cinematic vision of the Vietnam War.
The second word that comes to mind is "challenging". The levels themselves are extremely challenging and are
best attempted only by a seasoned player who has successfully completed the default Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis
game. Since Operation Flashpoint only allows one user save per mission a newcomer could be quickly overwhelmed and
discouraged by the sometimes overwhelming number of Vietcong hiding in the underbrush, the deadly booby traps, and
long mission lengths; a single moment of inattention might "undo" twenty minutes or more of careful and meticulous
playing. For an experienced player, though, the campaign presents a very good challenge. The missions are difficult
but far from impossible, but they're taxing enough that I get a very strong feeling of accomplishment after finishing
the campaign's toughest missions. In general, the missions require an even more cautious approach than many of the
Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis original missions do.
Another less positive way in which the campaign is challenging is that it's a bit difficult to install. It uses
and requires separate installation of many different user-created components such as maps of the Meekong Delta, and
special Vietnam War vehicles and character models. While URLs for all the components are given on the download page
for some reason many of them appear to be broken. While installing this campaign, I proceeded to email the creators
of the various components and the ones who got back to me told me that the downloads worked for them, even though
they mysteriously were not working for me; to this day I have no idea exactly what the technical reasons for this
might be. What is more is that there isn't really a clear write-up in a single place on the internet about how to
install the various user-created components and campaigns; I initially felt quite lost about what to do. Perhaps
this campaign could benefit from an installer, because of all the various specific components required.
Ultimately, though, the author himself was very kind and very helpful when I emailed him. He replied quickly to my
emails, emailed me files I couldn't download, and over an email exchange walked me through the installation process
and then post-installation troubleshooting. I feel that Warrior X [Zeus] deserves a special mention as having been
an extremely friendly, supportive, and helpful person.
Is "The Last Months In Vietnam" realistic? It's realistic insofar as it runs on the relatively realistic
Operation Flashpoint engine, but the vision of the Vietnam War presented by the author is definitely more
cinematic than historically realistic. Most of the missions involve a single squad of US Army Special Forces
lead by the player against an overwhelming number of Vietcong and NVA who have got much more armor units
(including tanks, and not just BMPs) than they ever had historically. US forces never outnumber North Vietnamese
forces in any mission, even ones that are supposed to represent major US offensives. At the same time, the
US forces rarely have any air or artillery support they can call on, and even in levels where support is available
it tends to be very limited. I remember in one mission my squad was hunkered down in a forest next to an occupied
village engaged in a firefight with North Vietnamese infantry and I called in AirCav support only to have the
supporting helicopters shot down by the enemy within thirty seconds or so of arriving. Typically I was able to
complete missions only after losing most or all of the squad, which historically and militarily speaking would
probably be considered a disaster or Pyhrric victory for a US special forces mission. This portrayal of the war,
therefore, is more in line with movies or with public perception than with historical reality, where special
forces teams usually would have considerable resources to call on for support, extraction, medivac, and so on.
A final detail is that most of the voice acting in this campaign is done by people who speak English with a
non-American accent, which sounds a bit out of place coming from the moving mouth of, say, a US Army officer.
On the whole, I am a big fan of "The Last Months In Vietnam". The lack of strict historical accuracy doesn't
bother me because the campaign emphasizes music, atmosphere, and visuals so much that it's almost like a Vietnam War
movie. It's clear by the second or third mission that the goal of the campaign was not to be a Vietnam War
documentary but rather to be an interactive pastiche, as it were, of various stereotypes concerning the Vietnam war.
It's about being the desperate, hard-bitten soldier in the jungle laying down fire with a CAR 15 while hordes of
Vietcong seem to be returning fire from everywhere and men are going down while music from the 60s and 70s pumps in
the background. In that sense, the campaign needs to be every bit as challenging as it is, because if it were
easy or if it were possible to routinely come out of the jungle unscathed that would not be consistent with the
images of the Vietnam War that certain narratives and movies have ingrained in the global popular culture.
In a sense, many other professionally-produced Vietnam War video games fail at this sort of cataclysmic high
drama because they're designed to give the player a relatively high degree of leeway, and thus actually miss
the effect that "The Last Months In Vietnam" with its unforgiving scenarios under the fairly brutal
Operation Flashpoint engine conveys. The campaign chooses to represent a sort of operatic drama about
the war, and in this chosen task it succeeds. "The Last Months In Vietnam" is a fun romp through the
cultural drama of the Vietnam War which is well worth the time to download and play.
-- Wounded Ronin (5/21/2008)