Since the game's release at the end of 1998, Myth II: Soulblighter's vibrant mod community has released some surprisingly diverse scenarios, which have changed the game's native fantasy units into things ranging from Legos to WWII-era soldiers to mechs--all thanks to the powerful editing tools shipped with the game and Myth II's stalwart multiplayer community. A total conversion that focuses on the actions of a Special Forces A-Team in Vietnam, Green Berets is a testament to the skill of Myth mod makers, several of whom were hired by Take-Two to produce the title professionally. Green Berets' jungle maps and more than a dozen new units do a convincing job of converting Myth II to a modern military setting, but the total conversion's dependence on the original game's artificial intelligence and game mechanics create a number of gameplay flaws that further heighten the frustrating difficulty of the single-player missions.
Calling down an air strike is a satisfying way to deal with enemies.
Green Berets is remarkably similar in style to the popular WWII multiplayer mods freely available for Myth II. What most separates it from the diverse amateur efforts that precede it is the single-player campaign. The 10 single-player missions are joined together by a minimum of storytelling, which just serves to set up the current military objective--downed or captured US personnel to rescue, a communications tower to destroy, or an isolated base to protect--that sends your small elite band into the jungle. Considering that lush tropical vegetation is a constant across nearly all the maps, the mission environments are satisfyingly diverse and use rivers, rice paddies, defensible cliffs, sandbags, and base fortifications to present varying tactical challenges. One of the nicer realism touches added to the outdoor environments is that the trees collapse into a pile of branches and fronds when exposed to explosive weapons fire, which isn't even the case in Myth II itself. In contrast, the one mission that takes place indoors, in which you crawl through a series of narrow supply tunnels, stands out as an unattractive, claustrophobic counterpoint.
Whatever the location or the mission, most of your energy will go into mowing down scripted waves of North Vietnamese soldiers. As you'd expect from the modern combat setting, Green Berets' emphasis is on ranged fighting with automatic and semiautomatic weapons, which are exceedingly lethal in skilled hands. For this reason, your commandos generally function like the hero units from Myth II, such that even a single carefully controlled unit can deal out a tremendous amount of damage. However, your units are also realistically susceptible to damage on the normal difficulty setting. This means that when you do manage to successfully complete missions, the kill count is often in the vicinity of a hundred enemies per level--but it's also very easy to succumb to the onslaught. Enemy-packed level design contributes to a single-player experience that is significantly harder on the normal difficulty level than the notoriously challenging Myth and Myth II single-player campaigns.
Problems with unit AI make some of the missions inordinately difficult.
Green Berets' general dependence on Myth II mechanics also translates into some frustrating flaws that make things even more difficult. The modern weapons in Green Berets deal out tremendous damage and shoot in near-flat trajectories, a significant departure from the melee and archer combat that the Myth II engine was originally designed for. In a world of rangers carrying .50-cal machine guns or M-16s with underbarrel rocket grenade launchers, it's pretty dangerous to move your men about in formation--but the game unfortunately locks a selected group into the last used formation for subsequent movement orders, and you'll need to use band select even in harrowing situations because there are no control group hotkeys. But these are just small issues in comparison to the general inadequacy of the unit AI. Your units often won't fire at nearby enemies on their own even when they're facing the right direction. And when they do fire, the unit AI can't be relied upon to make sure there's line of sight from the gun to the enemy. While this wouldn't necessarily be a problem in the high-trajectory world of Myth archer battles, too often you'll see your unit fire into the ground when on high or rolling terrain only to get hit in the head by return fire. In many situations, you'll have enough time to precisely control a small group of commandos yourself and avoid these pesky unit behavior problems. But the game's climactic base-defense mission is nigh impossible but on the easiest difficulty setting because enemies are coming from all directions and you can't depend on your elite units to fire on rushing suicide bombers 20 feet away.
As a multiplayer expansion, Green Berets is more satisfying and adds a wealth of map options to a multiplayer community that now, two years after the game's release, is often splintered between mods that must be downloaded and installed. Both the US and North Vietnamese units appear in the numerous map variations, and even the rather unbalanced helicopter and artillery support units make an appearance on the largest team maps. Green Berets works as a standard mod plug-in for Myth II multiplayer and connects to the Bungie.net service for convenient player matching. While Bungie.net serves just a fraction of the players it used to when Myth II was newer, it's nonetheless easy to find players with Green Berets installed. As a single-player game, Green Berets falls below the standard set by the original Myth games and is hampered by a generally unpolished presentation, unit AI problems, and unbalanced missions. Myth II must be installed separately to play Green Berets, so this budget-priced total conversion includes a copy of the original game in the box, which makes a nice bonus for the new players daring enough to pick up Green Berets despite its difficulty. Myth fans may enjoy the novelty of new solo missions and multiplayer maps that add a good number of new units, but veterans in the community could likely name a number of free mods that match the quality of Green Berets on a smaller scale.