12 January 2010

Call of Duty and Gaming Links, 12 January 2010

Never get out of the fucking boat.
   Like Apocalypse Now, Platoon is obviously going to be an powerful influence on any game based on VietNam. I have a bit of personal history with Platoon, too. Director Oliver Stone was an infantryman in the 25th Division in '67, and the film is based on his view of the VietNam conflict. When Platoon was released in December of 1986, I was an infantryman in the 25th Division, too. The film was still in general release some months later when I became the training NCO of my company (RATELO for the company CO in the field and training NCO back in the barracks). I arranged for my entire company to go to a private screening of Platoon as a training event. The general topic was the Geneva Convention, war crimes and military discipline. I got a roll of tickets the size of a movie reel. I arranged military bus transportation down to the theater in Waikiki, and the whole 120-man company convoyed to see Platoon. 
    My First Sergeant, Edward Naylor, (himself a VietNam veteran in the 173rd Airborne), God bless him, didn't think much of Stone's movie. A lot of it was overblown, he said. But the attention to small details really, really affected him. The depiction of the insanity of jungle combat left him shaking and sweaty. I had only ever seen him like that one other time: When we did our joint training exercise with the Thai army during Operation Cobra Gold '86. We bivouaced in huts like those used in VietNam; the weather, of course, was identical. We even had the same uniforms. For Cobra Gold, we were issued VietNam era OD BDUs with the slanted tunic pockets and boonie hats. 1SG Naylor got a bit shaky when we were out in the middle of the Thai jungle, a million miles from anything except snakes. He was always composed and in control.  But you could tell he was remembering some bad stuff. I don't think anyone was happy to be out in the middle of nowhere with nothing but bayonets and blanks. (You know how the jungle sounds at night? Ever see a Tarzan movie? Just like that. No shit.)

    Platoon will likely provide some great imagery for Treyarch to cook up uniform details, weaponry, and so forth. The scenes with the NVA making a fast movement to contact were brilliantly directed and edited. The long shots following the grunts and the NVA running through the jungle must have been hell to shoot, but they look amazing. The terrain was real jungle, and, watching the movie, I sometimes thought I recognized locations. When the grunts have to climb up a terraced stream, it looked just like one of the obstacles we had to traverse in Thailand. One of the guys from 2Old2Play mentioned that a jungle game might be a bit too monotonous. There's something to that. (I know that after 30 days in the jungle I wanted to never seen the color green again.) But there were vehicles and tanks used during VietNam, as we saw in Full Metal Jacket. The PBR sequence in Apocalypse Now had some exciting moments. Some combat could be set in urban settings; and there could be some interesting behind-the-lines stuff cooked up to keep things from getting too boring. Surely, they could throw some really great Navy SEAL action in there, too. (Where's Dick Marcinko when you need him, huh?

    I really loved the CAR-15 carbines SGT Elias and Barnes used. At least, they were accurate to the period, more or less. Evidently, Stone allowed folks to personalize their kit, and some non-accurate weaponry snuck in. SGT Barnes (played by Tom Berenger) has an 80's era push dagger from Cold Steel. SGT Elias (played by Willem Dafoe), meanwhile, has a Cold Steel Tanto-bladed knife which was probably not available during the VietNam era. (I carried a Gerber Mark II with an non-serrated blade and a camouflage enamel job on the handle and a camouflage nylon scabbard. I had a length of 550 cord as a lanyard on the pommel looped through an equipment ring on the shoulder pad of my web gear, right where the bandage pack was.) But I digress... :)

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