Game Review - by James Allen
There has been a reinvention of the first person shooter during World War II, recently. Such games as Return to Castle Wolfenstein and Medal of Honor: Allied Assault are poised to take the et on by storm with their gritty and realistic depiction of combat during this time in our nation's history. Another game in ValuSoft's series of budget first person shooters is WWII: Iwo Jima, featuring squad combat on these islands in the Pacific Ocean. Will Iwo Jima storm the island and raise the American flag in victory, or storm its way to an uncompelling gaming experience.
With what seems like a tradition of budget titles, the features in Iwo Jima are scarce at best. There are twelve levels in which to do battle, but most of these can be completed by most experienced players in five to ten minutes each; you can do the math. There are also ten different weapons, which is actually on par with most first person shooters nowadays. You can take to the shores armed with rifles, sub-machine guns, bazookas, pistols, and flamethrowers. This is the highlight of the features by a wide margin. After you have exhausted the game in a good night of playing, there is nothing else to do. WWII: Iwo Jima comes with no multiplayer, no level modification software, nothing else. Couple this with the fact that the game is shorter than Max Payne (believe it…or not!), and you won't be playing Iwo Jima for a long, long time.
The sound is nothing special, and is considered average in today's et, but average is pretty good for this game. The explosions sound pretty realistic, and the guns have some sort of punch to them. The voices of your squad mates and the enemy soldiers are repetitive and boring, however. The soundtrack in the game is similar to that used in dramatic movies featuring this time period, just of slightly lower production values. I can't find much to complain about here in the sound department, its just average across the board.
WWII: Iwo Jima features squad-based gameplay, which basically results in you telling your troops simplistic orders around the battlefield (attack, guard, follow). The levels themselves are entirely too short, and you can add to this the fact that they are linear. In other games such as this (Operation Flashpoint, to name one), you have the freedom to move about the landscape, but this liberty is not present here. There are also no vehicles to drive around (the levels weren't build for vehicles anyway). Now, with that out of the way, let's discuss the reason why you shouldn't play this game.
The artificial intelligence in WWII: Iwo Jima is some of the worst I have seen in a long time. The main problem involves the realism of the enemies (and your controlled troops, for that matter). The damage of the game is semi-realistic, which means three or four shots will kill you. Now, this is fine, but sometimes the AI is pre-programmed to shoot as soon as you walk around a corner, and you are all but dead. The way around this is to order your troops to explore every possible area that the enemies are hiding. The AI vs. AI battles are something to behold, it's so terrible. They can stand three feet from each other and shoot into the ground repeatedly. Craptacular! What is also not fair is that your squad members seem much more resistant to gunfire than you are, and the game would deteriorate into ordering them around every turn, but since they can't hit most anything, that can't be done. If the AI isn't preprogrammed to kill you right off the bat, you can stand in plain view of them and they will not react at all, until you shoot at them (and even then it's questionable). That's sad, folks, and kills any fun that you might have in the game. The AI is so inconsistent that it makes the game unrealistic and not amusing. If it weren't for the AI faults, this might actually be a half decent game.
I was actually pleasantly surprised with the graphics in the game. They are clean, crisp, and clear representations of the war environment. Compared to, say, Operation Flashpoint, the overall graphics are actually better (although the level of detail is slightly less). The weapons models are nice, as are the player models. Smoke effects are also good, although explosions are accompanied by flying triangles of debris. There are few (if any) clipping problems in the game. Gunshots are accompanied by puffs of red, similar to other games of the day. Sadly, the carcasses of your downed foes disappear after a given period of time for no particular reason. You'll be hard pressed to find any curved surfaces, but the graphics will certainly do for a game such as this.
If two changes were made to this game, it could be a cheap, recommended first-person shooter. Firstly, the AI has to be overhauled. It is entirely too frustrating to play the game with sub-par AI such as this. Secondly, more and/or longer levels need to be present. You could add a multiplayer component, but that's not really necessary. Really, the graphics and sound are good enough to not be painful, but this is offset by the root canal that is the artificial intelligence. If you are looking for squad-based gameplay, it's better to just spend a few more dollars on Operation Flashpoint. AI ruins what could have been a pretty good game.