Monday, Nov. 29, 2004

Battlefield Vietnam

Multiplayer games—in which participants compete via the Internet—continue to grow in popularity. The most dramatic entrant this year was Battlefield: Vietnam (for PC; $39.99), a surprisingly likable simulation of America's least-liked conflict.

Choose one of a dozen maps (from the Mekong Delta to the fall of Saigon) and log on to a server with 30 or so like-minded players. The server automatically divides you into Americans and Viet Cong. Then all you have to do is capture as many enemy flags as you can and try to get killed as few times as possible (death merely means a 10-sec. time out).

U.S. troops start with helicopters (which play Ride of the Valkyries when you lift off), F-4 jets and the powerful M60 machine gun at their disposal. But V.C. players can dig tunnels all over the place and have plenty of dense jungle for defensive cover. Throw in the mini-essays on the Vietnam era displayed while each map loads, and you might even consider this game—whisper it low—educational.

Ideal for: Military enthusiasts, online gamers