We’ve all heard of the greats, but how about the lesser known titles? Behind every Doom and Duke Nukem 3D, there is a lesser known title. Today, in the first edition of First Person Saturday, I’ll be taking a look at the often-overlooked First Person Shooter known simply as ‘Nam (Or Napalm in certain areas of the world). Released in 1998, ‘Nam is a Build Engine shooter set entirely in the Vietnam war. While I would love to cover FPS games worth a look in the future, it didn’t take much game time for me to realize why ‘Nam has been left in the dust.
First, let me get the obvious out of the way. This game looks like trash. While Build Engine games have never looked super great, it’s rare for a Build title to look just awful. ‘Nam takes the nauseating poorly-pixeladed environments of classic FPS games and mixes it with the disgusting grayish browns of modern shooters. Perhaps the worst part is the fact that the faceless Viet Cong soldiers all look extremely similar, and they all blend into brush. This makes spotting enemies extremely annoying, and to make it even worse, enemies can down you in just a matter of shots.
The way the game deals with difficulty is simply asinine. Your hero has the durability of a modern FPS hero in a setting of nothing but classic FPS level design. That means little to no cover, and the durability of a wet tissue. I spent a good three or four minutes at the start of one level, constantly spawning only to instantly get gunned down by overpowered Viet Cong soldiers thanks to awful enemy placements. Making a game intense is one thing. Making the game just a bad experience is a whole different beast. The enemies also have inconstant aim, making your survival in packed areas often up to nothing but pure RNG.
The weapons are a whole different beast. The M16 and M60 are practically the same gun, being my go-to weapons. The shotgun was also nice, but I found ammo for the other two to be much more plentiful. The Sniper Rifle also has its moments, but every other weapon in the title may end up hurting you more than helping you. The Rocket Launcher and Grenade Launchers both don’t help much, considering how most enemies will actually run up to you. The grenades are useless, taking much too long to detonate and not going nearly as far as they should. The flamethrower is easily the worst out of the lot, only going an extremely short range, and damaging you if you dare to move forward while using it.
To further make the game a pain in the ass, the levels are littered with hazards in the form of mortar strikes and mines. Mines blend into the ground unless you really want to take your time and look for them, which is hard when you’re trying to strafe around gunfire from roughly five Viet Cong soldiers at once. The mortars are even more annoying, coming in without any choreography to randomly blow you into pieces. It’s not fun, it’s not fair, and there wasn’t a single time when I thought I had died from a ‘well timed’ mortar strike.
While I picked up ‘Nam on the steam store expecting a fun, Vietnam-themed Duke Nukem, I got a game that was dull, brutally unfair, and lacking any sort of interesting mechanics. At the end of the day, I can safely say ‘Nam is faithful to the war it’s based on. It’s a hellish experience nobody should have to suffer through, and even when it’s over, you don’t feel like you’ve won anything.