“ Real Time Strategy. Real Combat. Plastic Men. „
"Army Men: RTS" is a strategy video game. It was first released in 2002 as a PC CD-ROM game by 3DO. In the United States, the game received an age guidance rating of "T" which deemed it suitable for ages 13 and above. The system requirements to run the game are minimal but include:
CPU: Pentium at 233MHz
Memory: 64MB RAM
Graphics: 4 MB Video Card
Hard Drive: 250MB free disk space
Maybe I'm a glutton for punishment but I generally enjoy real time strategy games despite not being very good at them. Army Men: RTS is no exception to that rule. The story focuses on a former army colonel defecting from his former strong alliance with the "green" team to become the leader of the "tan" team; the two warring factions in the "Army Men" video game series. Colonel Blitz had control over a house which served as a prominent place for green's military advancement, but since becoming affiliated with the tan army the house must no longer be used for green's purposes. The player assumes the role of "Sarge" who is the commanding officer of the green army and must lead his troops to victory and recapture the house for their use.
RTS does not waver from the traditional foundations of real time strategy games. Beginning with a small army, Sarge must deploy units to harvest resources which serve as a sort of currency for building soldiers and structures. The material sources are not immediately obvious but are light hearted in their appearance which suits the action figure atmosphere of the game nicely. Items such as pet food dishes and scattered toys serve as the "plastic" resource, and "electricity" is gained from batteries and other electrical units. Both resources are returned to a central building but, in the case of RTS, the player must use a dump truck unit to gather plastic which is then transported to a separately built resource depot. I found this to be a bit odd in execution as I'm used to my units sheepishly going to the nearest appropriate building to drop their harvest and return to work. Here, my dump trucks waited aimlessly as the necessary building is not built by default.
Once resources are established the player may then begin assembling his army of plastic soldiers. One possible unique trait featured here is the use of "Dum Dum" soldiers; or more specifically suicide troops represented as robots wielding small fireworks. Their use in combat is minimal but the sudden element of surprise did make for an enjoyable experience. More popular Army Men characters, including the rifleman and grenadier, are also available for assembly. Players may also create vehicles and there seems to be a slight preferential skew towards this type of attack unit. In play I found they required as much time to create as standard units, but their greater damaging abilities far outweighed the slightly higher costs of assembling standard troops. It is through use of these attack units that the primary objective of eliminating the opponent's troops and structures is accomplished.
The graphics are presented from an isometric perspective which looks down on the game in play by default. Each map in play represents one room within a typical home. There is a kitchen complete with cooker and chopped vegetables and a children's play room with toys all about, for examples. Each unit is clearly identifiable with some learning curve due to the solid colour each character features. The detailing is also rather low because of the solidity of each unit. Despite this I feel these slight hindrances were offset well by the level designs which were clever and interesting in execution. The soundtrack is likewise complimentary to the game's atmosphere. The strung out music clips do not often loop and are minimalistic in their presentation; something I appreciate in a real time strategy environment. Like similar titles in this genre, most physical troops have an assortment of vocal cues which are activated when the player clicks on them.
Overall, I have enjoyed what RTS has to offer. It provides an excellent addition to the Army Men series of video games but may also appeal to a strategy enthusiast in itself. The artwork of the title could perhaps have benefit from additional production work but the game is an otherwise fun and engaging play.