It's not the traditional way to way to kick off a review, but what the hell: why on Earth release Vietcong 2 now, right in the midst of one of the busiest release periods gaming has ever seen? It's not as if PC gamers are short of outstanding first-person shooters to play anyway, but when you have FEAR, Quake 4, Serious Sam 2 and (shortly) Half-Life 2: Aftermath all vying for PC gamer's attention, it might have been sensible to consider timing Pterodon's sequel a little better. The fact that Vietcong's follow-up is notably the weakest of the bunch merely diminishes its chances of shifting a few copies along the way.
For those that missed out on the rather charming original (released way back in Spring 2003), the craggy-looking visuals didn't detract from its status as an intriguing team-based jungle adventure. It didn't pull its punches, never attempted to glamorise this hideously unnerving war, and even managed to capture the late '60s essence of the first 'rock n' roll' war. Better still was the online multiplayer, which became the best jungle-based frag-fest around, marking itself out as something quite different from the herd. Maybe with a little bit more polish it could have raised itself above the cult status it enjoyed, but instead we were served up some rather bodged console ports and a run-of-the-mill Fist Alpha expansion pack. And now we get the full-blown sequel.
This time, the game chucks out the jungle premise (well, not entirely, but more of that later) and is set in and around the ancient city of Hue (that's "Hoo-ay"). Kicking off during the traditional Tet (New Year) festivities of 1968, you find yourself draped around a Vietnamese hooker, with orders to get your arse down to the US compound to escort a US war reporter. Surrounded by unhelpful, foul-mouthed and inebriated soldiers ogling a pole dancer, it's not the most traditional start to an FPS, but, hey, we're liberal, open-minded types here.