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Army Men

Preview By: Jared Black

Developer:   DC Studios
Publisher:   3DO
Genre:   Action
Est. Release:   June 11, 2001
Posted:   4-12-01

Easily the most over-used and watered-down license in recent memory is 3DO’s Army Men series. 3DO have continually released one Army Men game after another, including a mind-boggling four Game Boy Color games and three different Army Men games for the PS2 in just the month of March! Unfortunately, each of these Army Men games has been average at best, with none really meeting the enormous potential the premise (who doesn’t want to control plastic army men?) provides.

With this in mind, I’m somewhat ambivalent towards 3DO’s latest Army Men game, Army Men Advance. On the one hand, "Army Men" usually equals "crap". On the other hand, thus far this game looks to be one of the better GBA games in development. Can it escape the Army Men curse?

The story should be familiar to anyone who has played previous Army Men games. General Plasto, leader of the Tan Army, is once again out to eliminate the Green Army. It will be your job to control either Vicky (the female character featured in the Sarge’s Heroes series) or Sarge and eliminate the Tan threat.

The gameplay in this title is straight-up action, but this time things are presented from a top-down scrolling perspective (not unlike Gun.Smoke in some areas). This game presents a total of 17 levels, and these levels will be split up between two different worlds: Plastic World and Human World. In Plastic World you’ll be normal sized when compared to your environment, but in Human World you’ll be extremely tiny when compared to the environment (you are just a toy after all). And on par with other Army Men games, you’ll also have an assortment of different vehicles to control.

Fortunately, Army Men Advance doesn’t look anything like the other Army Men games currently on the market. Whereas other previous Army Men games have striven for "life-like" plastic men and vehicles, Army Men Advance takes a more cartoonish approach to the graphic design. The army men are all dumpy, with helmets that cover half of their heads. The color palette is bright and vivid, with a ton of detail and exaggerated features that emphasize its cartoonish look.

Overall, it’s really hard to get excited about this game at this point, even though it looks like it’s coming together really well. 3DO have dumped so many Army Men games on the buying public that the license just seems tired and weak. Hopefully Army Men Advance will breath new life into a once-promising series.
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