Review – Army Men: Air Attack 2 (PS1)

Army Men Air Attack 2 PS1 Intro Header

I feel the need to start off this review by again mentioning that whenever someone tells me they have fond memories of the Army Men series, they’re referring specifically to “the one with helicopters.” I usually tell them that it had a sequel, Army Men: Air Attack 2, but I’m not sure I have met anyone who played it.

And that’s interesting since Army Men: Air Attack 2 came out in 2000, the year after the first, which follows 3DO’s reported policy for turnaround time. While it’s easy to blame the series’ already intense output, it’s more likely that the timeframe it came out on was to blame for it being overlooked. The PlayStation 2 was out that same year, and while there was a PS2 version of Army Men: Air Attack 2, that’s not necessarily what people are going to look for when kicking the tires of their new console.

That’s kind of unfortunate. Army Men: Air Attack was a decent game; it was just pretty short. It presented a light, more action-y take on the Desert Strike formula, and being a decent game puts it pretty high in the rankings of Army Men games.

Army Men Air Attack 2 PS1 battle against Baron Von Beige
The triplane just hovers around like a helicopter, FYI.

HEART OF GREEN

The narrative takes us back to the endless Tan vs. Green toy soldier war. It doesn’t seem like much has happened. The Green army is still presented as something of an underdog, even though the Tan get wrecked in every battle. The Tan army is creating superweapons from items they pull through portals to our world, but the Green are doing it too. However, you know that you’re fighting for the good guys because the Tan is sometimes depicted as being cartoonishly evil.

That plot might sound identical to the first game’s (and, indeed, to most Army Men games), but it’s different because of the introduction of Baron Von Beige, who is a foil to the protagonist, Cpt. William Blade. Von Beige is just some guy who wears a mask (being a toy soldier, that’s probably just his face) and flies a triplane. He’s also maybe an industrialist because he talks to Plastro about production, but really, he’s just there to essentially be a far less interesting Darth Vader.

A good half of Army Men: Air Attack 2 is going around collecting super weapons and destroying factories. Blade butts heads with Sarge from Sarge’s Heroes’ and flirts with Vikki Grimm, but the story doesn’t really pick up until halfway through the game, and it does so in the most bizarre way. 

You blow up a factory, Sarge tells you what a good job you did, and then a cutscene ensues where Blade’s squad is fleeing from Baron von Beige and his lackeys. He tells his squad to retreat while he takes on Beige, so Bombshell (who is all green, unlike Vikki for some reason), is like, “We have no fuel and ammo and you can’t take him alone.” So Blade loses and everyone but Woodstock is shot down, and then Blade gets… courtmarshaled?

Army Men Air Attack 2 PS1 Attacking a Tan factory in a city.
Strange place for a tiny factory.

UNFORGIVABLE INDISCRETION

Colonel Grimm says that his “indiscretion” cost the army three of their finest pilots, but, for one thing, I don’t think bad judgment is a punishable offense. I don’t know. I’m not an Army Man. But also, he didn’t do anything. He wanted to fight a guy, so he told his squad to continue on while he did so, and they got shot down. I’m missing something here.

So, Blade goes to jail, but Woodstock busts him out, and they go to save the rest of the squad. And they do. And then they get captured again. So, you save them again. But Felicity is still in Baron Von Beige’s clutches because it’s the ‘90s, and she’s a woman, so she has to be a damsel in distress.

It’s a tremendous mess. I have more questions, but considering I’ll probably, at the very least, be covering the GameCube version as well, I’ll leave it there. The important thing is that the narrative at least gets the job done, even if it isn’t particularly good. It’s a flimsy framework for the missions, but a framework nonetheless.

Thankfully, the gameplay isn’t a far cry from the original Army Men: Air Attack. You fly a variety of choppers, pick your co-pilot, blow up anything tan, and winch things up with your winch. Weapons are no longer selectable. Each helicopter has its own weapon, and your co-pilot defines what your secondary is. That may sound lame, but I didn’t think it was terrible. I only found a few weapons useful in the original, anyway.

Army Men Air Attack 2 Helicopter drops off five Green soldiers.
That’s Sarge in the middle, by the way. Can you tell?

RIDING SHOTGUN

If there’s one place where Army Men: Air Attack 2 is starkly inferior, its the mission variety. Or even the mission design, more generally. Air Attack would have you dropping donuts on bases to attract destructive ants or dropping crayons in army man factories to make them produce green soldiers. Even when it was just escort missions, there was usually an interesting twist to it.

An overwhelming majority of Air Attack 2 is simply blowing up enemy bases. Sometimes you need to rescue people, other times you need to collect something and take it to the portal. Even still, the objective isn’t always clear. There was one where I had to both rescue someone and pick up a helicopter part from the same spot, but the characters were telling me not to worry about them. So, I just picked up the helicopter piece and left the person standing there, at which point enemies attacked them, and I lost the mission.

Speaking of which, one actually appreciable addition is that characters have discussions with you throughout the mission. Their weirdly waggly heads pop up and will tell you what you need to do or what a piece of shit you are.

There’s also a weird love… rectangle (?) between Vikki, Blade, Sarge, and Bombshell. In a couple spots, you’re allowed to have Sarge or Vikki help you, and that seems like a dumb discision. Of course, I want the seasoned veteran and the only other competent person in the Green Army over a misplaced Barbie doll.

Unfortunately, while Blade lowers his voice suggestively when talking to Vikki, he doesn’t do the same with Sarge. I’m not sure how he can resist.

Army Men Air Attack PS1 Carrying a giant severed head toward a Tan Base
Just carrying a giant severed head through enemy territory.

I KNOW THAT VOICE

Speaking of which, Jim Cummings voices basically every male character in the game, as he does in Sarge’s Heroes. The guy’s great. Even though it can often sound like your radio is filled with Jim Cummings talking to Jim Cummings with a Jamaican accent while Jim Cummings is scheming alongside Jim Cummings, his delivery is so great. He only got better performing as Sarge as the games went on and was one of the consistently great parts of the series. Even though a few more actors in there would have made things less ridiculous.

Did you know he voice the gelato guy in Alpha Protocol?

Finally, Air Attack 2 has some pretty rough graphics. Not just in a blocky PS1 way, but some of the level geometry… they didn’t even try to make it look nice. There’s a mission inside a city, and all the buildings have angled walls, making them look like pyramids. This isn’t an aesthetic choice; they just cut them from the ground geometry to avoid plunking down more models on screen. And yet, it still chugs at times to the point of being obtrusive.

Army Men: Air Attack 2 was also released on PS2 shortly after the PS1 version, and then in 2003, it reached the GameCube. I’m not sure how closely related they are. The PS2 version seems mostly the same, but the GameCube version is called Army Men: Air Combat: The Elite Mission. That implies it has added content, but the back of the case says it has 20 missions, which is actually less than the PS1 version. I have it on my desk in front of me. I’ll report back later.

Army Men Air Attack 2 PS1 fighting Tan near a bee box.
The bee box turns you into a bee that the Tan don’t attack for some reason.

FLYING LOW

Here’s something interesting, however. The director for Air Attack 2 on PS1, Brandon Chamberlain, was the designer and writer of the maligned William Shatner’s Tekwar. I’m not saying there’s a quality or design correlation here. I just thought that was interesting. Facts all around.

With that aside, Army Men: Air Attack 2 is a disappointing follow-up to the already whelming Army Men: Air Attack. It’s not bad and can be a decent time if you’re playing with a friend. However, you can tell it didn’t get as much love as 3DO’s first whack at the helicopter formula. 2000 was the busiest year for the license, and it hosted some of the best and some of the worst that would be seen under the Army Men name. Air Attack 2 is neither of those things, but it does show how the standards for the series continued to decline.

5/10

This review was conducted on a PSOne using a disc copy of the game. It was paid for by the author.

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About Zoey Handley 243 Articles
Zoey made up for her mundane childhood by playing video games. Now she won't shut up about them. Her eclectic tastes have led them across a vast assortment of consoles and both the best and worst games they have to offer. A lover of discovery, she can often be found scouring through retro and indie games. She currently works as a Staff Writer at Destructoid.

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