The Horrors Of An Electronic Vietnam

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PC war-game makers have tended to avoid the swampy waters of America's painfully controversial conflict. But Battlefield Vietnam (Electronic Arts; $39.95) wades right in with the most harrowing historical multiplayer game yet created. Playing it feels like wandering onto the set of a chaotic Vietnam movie. The ambiance is pitch-perfect; EA licensed original period antiwar hits like Fortunate Son so the tunes could blare ironically across the jungle. As in its predecessor, Battlefield 1942, players compete with strangers over the Internet on an intricate 3-D map (representing the Ho Chi Minh Trail, say, or the city of Hue). Your aim is to capture as many flags and annihilate as many opponents as possible. But in this game, jungle-shrouded snipers are among the features that heighten the anxiety level. The game's best moment comes when you launch a chopper attack to the strains of Ride of the Valkyries — a tip of the hat, of course, to Apocalypse Now.