Army Men: Turf Wars is the last of the three Game Boy Advance Army Men games. I've read that some fans consider Turf Wars to be the best of the series (at least on handheld), and I thought I might agree with that at first. A lot of the game really is quite excellent, but almost immediately, the flaws became apparent, and those flaws are so glaring that they sadly overshadow the positive aspects of the game.
Turf Wars, like Army Men Advance did, features Sergeant Hawk as the protagonist. Unfortunately the characterization of Hawk and Colonel Grimm is even more botched in this game than in Advance. They play up the paternal attitude that Grimm has towards Hawk WAY too hard. They also make Hawk's character far too flippant for my taste. He acts like a kid going to the playground rather than a soldier going to war. While he's always been a bit of a goofball in the games, this takes it to a new level.
Visually the game looks pretty good. I still prefer the more traditional look of Operation Green, personally, but I don't have any real gripes with Turf Wars. There were a few occasions of slowdown, but nothing like the Game Boy Color entries in the series. They were more hiccups than true impediments to gameplay. Sound effects were all appropriate and fitting for the weapons and action on screen, but the music is a major weak point in the game. It does not have the feel of a war game. It's upbeat, cheerful, and jovial. That's not bad in itself, but it's about as far from fitting for an Army Men game as one can get.
As bad as the music is, and as awkward as the characterization is, the game's worst offense is, without a doubt, the controls. The control in the game is HORRIBLE. The movement controls are cumbersome and feel completely unnatural; it took me into the third mission probably to be able to control Hawk's movement even halfway decently. The vehicle controls aren't any better. You can drive tanks and jeeps, but if you're moving at all when you try to shoot, it will start turning your cannon/turret instead of your vehicle making it extremely difficult to move and fire simultaneously. That, in turn, makes it extremely difficult to avoid damage while trying in a vehicle.
Turf Wars was, apparently, developed with an emphasis on local multiplayer. I wasn't able to test that, obviously, but one of the effects of that is that the single player campaign was extremely short - only seven missions that lasted between 7 and 15 minutes each. Even with deaths and retries, I'd say it took me roughly two hours of game time to finish. The short single player isn't bad (aside from the aforementioned flaws), but it feels extremely shallow. Truthfully, it feels like a late-2000s Call of Duty campaign in a lot of ways; shallow and tacked on just for the sake of having one.
Army Men: Turf Wars isn't bad, per se, but it's definitely not what I would call "good." I spent a lot of time debating what score to give this game. The levels feel shallow and token, enemies take WAY too many bullets to kill, the control is utter balls, the characterization feels wrong, the music doesn't fit, and it just feels like a rushed job. Turf Wars had a LOT of potential, but it lived up to almost none of that potential. Disappointing is an understatement. Y'all should know the drill by now regarding my recommendations for these games if you've read any of my past Army Men reviews; if you're a fan of the Army Men series or a big Game Boy Advance collector, then I'd give it a go, but otherwise, avoid this game. It just doesn't have much to offer.
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.