Vietnam must be the bloodiest of modern conflicts, where the combined forces of the American and South Korean armies fought against the Viet Kong jungle fighters and the North Vietnamese Communists.
It's all history now, but at the beginning of the war nobody in the West thought that the powerful Americans could be defeated.
It was to be a quick war. The Communists would be napalmed out of their jungle strongholds and the boys would be home by Christmas. But, as the months dragged into years, and planeloads of American teenagers began to arrive home in military coffins, it started to dawn on America and the world that the politically-motivated Viet Kong were going to take longer to defeat. If, indeed, they could be defeated at all.
This wonderful simulation from America's leading computer war games company enables you to understand the decisions that were taken - and to see what would have happened had the American Generals fought differently.
One of the first things you notice about Vietnam is that it is mightily different from the conventional software themes of World War II. With the advent of modern technology you have a wide selection of power equipment at your disposal like Huey and Cobra helicopters, Patton tanks and deadly accurate artillery batteries.
The other difference lies in the actual gameplay. Instead of just concentrating on Vietnam as a whole and conducting your forces in a random manner where necessary, Vietnam gives you six historical battles to choose from that reflect the different types of situations that occurred.
The game is divided into phases and starts with the Observation Phase. This gives you a chance to move your cursor over the map area and identify your units, along with their specific capabilities and note the positions of the enemy forces (obviously hidden units are not shown to you under they fire).
Next comes the Artillery Plot when you decide where you would like a fierce air and artillery barrage concentrated. The next two phases concern enemy movement and firing which is all handled by the computer (this is where those hidden forces suddenly materialise!). Your turn to fire next, and in this phase you choose your targets by crosshair cursor after selecting which unit is firing, and pray they do their stuff.
The Movement phase is dependent on terrain type (roads use up less movement points than woods) although helicopters, of course, are not included in this.
After all this comes another round of firing from both sides followed by the artillery barrage you plotted earlier. Points are then awarded to each side depending on units eliminated and you get a rating of your performance so far. That's turn one, and if all is well you continue to turn two, three and four, etc.
During the battles, there are some very effective sound effects and the layout and design of graphics of the scenarios are extremely good. What about those scenarios? Well, you get the chance to fight in practically every type of situation that happened in Vietnam.
'Sugar Cat' was an ambush in intense cover that taught the American forces how to deal with this kind of quick strike efficiently. You get ten turns to deal with it.
AP Bau Bang was a base 80 kilometres NE of Saigon and involved a direct attack by the Viet Cong. The base had to be held until reinforcements arrived. You have fifteen turns here.
L.A. Drang concerns a clearing exercise by air of enemy forces from intense jungle area. Very tricky.
Tuy Hoa is set in underground caves, and is another clearing operation through a series of mazes.
Ben Het was the only tank battle of the way and Hue is the final counterattack by the American forces to retake the city from the NVA communists.
All these scenarios are described in a well-written manual (which is the hallmark of all SSI products) along with detailed maps depecting each battle situation.
This is a major piece of work from SSI and full marks are given for dealing with a particularly sensitive piecce of American history in a marvellous professional manner. This release is an essential purchase for any wargame player and is playable enough for even novices to attempt.