Anyway, what all this adds up to is the pre-surfing assault scene from Apocalypse Now: yes, you can actually participate in the Air Cavalry's Wagner-fuelled attack on the beach-base, complete with opera blaring from the speakers and somebody in an F4 laying napalm down on the tree-line beyond. Boom. Incredible. Glorious. Silly too, and reeking of a strangely moving machismo. This kind of escapism is what PC gaming seems to have become all about. Of course, once you're in-game it's unlikely to go entirely the US team's way, as the Vietcong have plenty of weapons to defend themselves with. Aside from the guns and vehicles we've already mentioned, they have traps aplenty, including deployable stake-pits and giant Ewok-style rolling log traps. So very cool.
Of course I've been discussing this all in the manner in which it's meant to be played - as a multi-player game. But there's more to be found in the single-player version. The instant action and campaign maps have been augmented by a challenge mode where you must undertake extra-curricular missions to complete the objectives, including such delights as getting a certain number of headshots, or running a certain number of people over with a Vespa. The limited ability to customise the appearance of your player model is increased by unlocking these single-player bonuses. This was never meant to be a single-player game, but if you must, it's there.
In the world beyond the servers, political quibbling seems likely to arise once again as controversial wars make for more fun gaming but, putting that aside entirely, we're still left with the best Vietnam war game so far. It's also one of the best online multi-player games of recent times. The fact that Battlefield Vietnam does seem to hark towards territory normally covered by free mods or expansion packs means that a few people will wince at buying this at full price. But then we also believe that there is enough in the way of new toys and new gaming experiences to make this a worthwhile investment of money and your precious time.
I paraphrase my distinguished colleague Mr Edwards when I say that this is one game that you won't really care if you miss out on, but also a game that you'll definitely be glad of if you do decide to make it your next adventure behind a gun. Put that paradox in your pipe and smoke it.
Battlefield Vietnam in out on PC on 19 March