By Ocean
Spectrum 48K/128K

Published in Computer & Video Games #77


"The first casualty of war is innocence," was Platoon's message - a movie telling the story of five fresh-faced American teenagers thrust into the gory hell of combat in the Vietnam war zone.

Most people thought it was a joke when Ocean said they were coding a game around Platoon - reasoning that it was one thing churning out naff film tie-ins of James Bond and the like, but quite another thing to cheapen such a good and "serious" film.

Whatever your views on this - there is no denying that as a game Platoon is an extremely well thought out and challenging arcade adventure style game. Thankfully it is not merely an excuse for video gook bashing - as it might so easily have been.


When you examine the whole package - the poster, audio copy of the film's theme tune "Tracks of My Tears" and the way in which the game has been done you have to acknowledge that the subject matter has been treated extremely sensitively.

The game is split up into six sections - loosely following the plot of the film.

The opening sequence is set in the Jungle with Viet Cong guerrilla's leaping from trees, and setting booby traps for your five-strong platoon as they seek out the VC village. A bridge has to be blown to stop the VC from pursuing you to the village. The maze-like jungle is pretty dense and I strongly recommend the map - as it is all very similar looking and difficult to find your way around. You have five men and your morale barometer goes down every time a Cong sniper kills one of them.


Once you reach the Village you have to search the huts to find items you will need in the next section. Again, you have to keep an eye on morale - the barometer dips if you shoot any unarmed villagers.

The Tunnel network is an impressive piece of game design incorporating a split-screen 3D and map view of the complex. Again you are searching for items that you will need later - a compass and some flares - but there is the added complication of red herrings. The VC are down there in the tunnel with you - hiding under the water with knives in hand - just waiting to silently pick off your platoon man by man.

The Bunker re-creates the images of the film more vividly for me than the rest of the game. You now find yourself in a fox hole. It is pitch black and the enemy are creeping all around you. Now is the time to use your flares to pick out the Cong. Go easy on the ammo though as this is limited.


If you survive the bunker sequence you will find yourself back in the Jungle. This time your objective is simply to escape from there before it is blown sky high. This is also a race against the clock - with a two minute limit - as well as a test of finding your way out.

The final conflict pitches you against the shell-shocked Sergeant Barnes. 'Nam has proved too much for him and he has turned on his own men - bombarding them with a constant barrage of grenades and gunfire. Five grenades must score direct hits in order to eliminate Barnes and win the game.

I enjoyed playing Platoon immensely. Many gamers may be put off by the toughness of the first level and put it down - which would be a mistake as it is an arcade adventure of great challenge and ultimately much satisfaction as well. Ocean has made a competent job of what appeared to be one of the most difficult films to turn into a game.