War Games
Get tanked for the holidays

All right, you maggots... Drop and gimme twenty! You have been ordered to play and play rough. The first battalion leaves at oh-600. And you Nancy Boys better be ready.

See also...
... by Suzanne Ashe
... in the Scope section
... from December 3, 1999

Honor system. The first mission begins on June 5, 1944 (the night before D-Day), with Medal of Honor (PlayStation, DreamWorks SKG/Electronic Arts). Here you will take on the role of an OSS agent in covert wartime operations behind enemy lines. The bad news for you is that your seven missions have been programmed by some civilian, name of Spielberg, so you know that the historical detail will be painstakingly accurate, with the emphasis on pain. You are on your own in this adventure, or you can go split-screen with a friend. But the main thing to keep in mind is this first-person shooter is unlike most console games. You'll sleuth through occupied territories, stealing top secret papers, planting "surprises" for the enemy, and sabotaging missions. Think James Bond played by John Wayne instead of that English fairy. (Four stars)

The Green Beret way. Paint your face and prepare for the modern theater of war. Spec Ops II: Green Berets (PC, Ripcord Games) plummets you into 30 lifelike military combat missions. Campaigns employ tactics and equipment used by the real Army to gussy up the standard run-and-gun with a couple of trickshots such as a 10-second delay on the satchel charges. Remember your compass and pack plenty of grenades. They'll come in handy when you advance into the combat zones of Mplayer.com in multiplayer mode, laying waste to the enemy in the pursuit of loot (er, give-aways and prizes). Each tour you will have to keep your wits about you, deploy your team, and keep an eye out for the enemy. Excellent training for the Xmas tree. (Three and a half stars)

Luck and load. So you're finished with that furlough, but time's now weighing on your hands. So sign up as a merc in Soldier of Fortune (PC, Activision), another first-person shooter with a black-ops theme, based foursquare on the magazine. As a gun-for-hire, you'll carry out dozens of missions that span five continents. You'll take out gas mask-clad nasties, fur-warmed foes in icy terrain, Mussolini-mustached meanies in the Mediterranean, and any number of death-deserving heads of state, er, terrorists. Although this game utilizes the Quake II engine, don't think you've been here before. You can either play as a solo killer or hire a bunch of banditos and hop from merc to merc to blast your target from all angles. (Three stars)

Scrap metal. You'll be zapped into a 23rd Century battle for world domination in Metal Fatigue (PC, Psygnosis). This game combines Command & Conquer gameplay with MechWarrior mayhem. Battle occurs on several levels simultaneously as you take control of the asteroids orbiting the planet and rain down fiery death on your adversaries, an opposing army of lethal warriors standing more than four stories high. These combots employ a rotary blade arm, a plasma cannon arm, a missile-launching torso, and armored legs -- and when they're down, you can dismantle them and steal their parts for scrap. (Four stars)

Plastic man at arms. Okay, that's enough realism. Shrink down to the size of a condom wrapper for backyard battle against General Plastro and his evil tan plastic army. Yup, Toy Story's in sequel, and so is Army Men: Sarge's Heroes (N64, 3DO). As in Army Men 3D, you'll be armed with a machine gun, flamethrower, and plenty of grenades, but this time you'll also pack new additions like a sniper rifle and mines. You'll have to duke it out through different terrain, weather, even bathtub battles. You'll also need to prevent Plastro from receiving that shipment of magnifying glasses that could turn you and your men into goo. (Three and a half stars)

Suzanne Ashe loves the smell of melted Army men in the morning.