Also available on PlayStation 2
Long time Army Men fans like me are used to disappointment. This is especially true when discussing the (mercifully few) games produced after 3DO's IP was bought by Global Star Software. Never content to keep a bad thing from getting worse, Global Star took everything that was wrong with the first of their two Army Men games - Sarge's War - amplified that, stripped it of the few scraps left of what made Army Men good, and then called it Major Malfunction.
From a visual standpoint, the game is fine. That's to be expected - it's running on the most powerful console of the 6th gen. I haven't played the PAL-only PS2 port to compare, but at least on Xbox, it looks pretty good. It sounds...well, audio is polarizing. The music is pretty good. Not epic like the early Army Men games, but it's got a decent soundtrack. The dialogue and sound effects, however....damn, man. The sound effects sound like they're straight from an Ebaumsworld soundboard, and the dialogue is straight Sims gibberish. Army Men always either had no voice acting or legitimate voice acting, but this is the only game in the series that's actually had fucking gibberish, and it does NOT work. The writing doesn't redeem it any; the entire script is just early 2000s meme humor. Bad TV references and lame movie quotes make up at least 40% of the script. It's like a prophetic warning about Meme Run on the Wii U eShop a decade later.
The biggest problem aside from the writing and dialogue (I can look past that if the gameplay is good) is control. It has a camera controlled by the right stick, but it's really hit or miss whether or not it will actually let you move the camera; half the time, the camera gets stuck in a single position because of the positioning of the environment. When you can move it, it's only one dimensional movement; you can't move it at all along the Y axis, making it extremely difficult to try to check if you missed any of the ten service medals hidden throughout each level. It also suffers from the ever-obnoxious sudden shift in directional orientation upon changing camera angles. In those situations where you're given almost no control over the camera, it behaves a bit like a fixed camera, so when it snaps back into a more free motion position, you'll sometimes find that due to the position, your up and down movement have been flipped. When you're trying to edge across a sink or bathtub where water is an instant death and there are no mid-level checkpoints, that's irksome as shit.
The other problem is the collision detection. It is COMPLETELY random whether or not Anderson (yeah, you don't play as Sarge) decides to grab a ledge or if you're going to spent a minute and a half jumping up and down against a wall like a rabbit on crack. You also will - not infrequently - just kind of slide off a platform that SHOULD be solid and level. Like the ground wasn't bad from its lunch break or some shit. Again, water - one level has you jump across the arms of an inflatable octopus in a filled bathtub. Then you have the instances where the walls get hungry and eat you. That's what it seems like, anyway. There was one particular instance that made me rage quit for 10 or 20 minutes. I was at the very end of a level, and I had to do some platforming jumping up a series of stacks of towels (this was a level taking place in the bathroom). Well, rather than grab onto the ledge of the stack of towels in front of him, my dumbass character decides to phase out of this dimension for a fraction of a second and merge with the wall. The front half of my body was firmly blended with the wall in front of me with the back half sticking out. No matter what I did, I stayed stuck. Jumping didn't work. Crouching didn't work. Trying to walk didn't work. Shooting every weapon I had in an attempt to knock myself back didn't work. I had to restart the level. 30 more minutes of my life down the shitter.
My last complaint is a minor one and one that will only apply to people who love the series like I do. You don't fight the Tan. This is the only game in the entire series in which you don't fight the Tan. That's literally the series' whole thing - the Green Army fights the Tan Army. The Tan aren't even MENTIONED in this game. That's like having a full length Halo game where the Master Chief spends 10 hours fighting random space pirates with ZERO mention of the Covenant or the Flood throughout the entire game. It just feels...wrong. Very, deeply wrong.
If everything worked, this would probably be a 6 or 7 hour game. As it stands now, though, with the various bugs and glitches that I encountered, it took me closer to 9 or 10 hours. Unless you're a hardcore Army Men fan like I am, just steer clear of this one. Stick to either Army Men 2 or Army Men Toys in Space on PC; the Army Men World War sub-series on PlayStation; or Sarge's Heroes on numerous consoles.
My Rating - 2 Neps
I'm a teacher.
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach high school history; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.