The real-time strategy genre hasn't really been terribly successful on console hardware, usually because the games have been shoddily ported over from the PC. But with Army Men: RTS, Pandemic has taken 3DO's long-running Army Men franchise and placed it into an incredibly solid and straightforward real-time strategy console game. PC RTS fans will probably find very little of interest in Army Men: RTS, as the mission objectives are no different from what you'd find in the original Command & Conquer, and the game itself isn't nearly as deep as most modern real-time strategy PC games. However, console gamers who haven't been spoiled by the likes of Starcraft or Red Alert 2 are in for a treat.
Army Men: RTS follows the story of Sarge and his platoon of roughnecks as they creep behind enemy lines to take out Colonel Blintz, an ex-Green Army officer who suffered a disfiguring head wound during combat and has subsequently "gone Tan." The story's similarity to Apocalypse Now is certainly no accident, and you'll find plenty of references to other classic war movies throughout the game's 15 missions.
The game closely follows the conventions laid down by past real-time strategy games and rarely strays from them. You'll start off each mission with a handful of troops and, depending on the circumstances, a bulldozer. The bulldozer can be used to build structures, such as barracks and garages, which can be used to build more troops and vehicles, respectively. To create an effective army, you'll need to build a resource depot to gather plastic and electricity, the core building blocks of all your units. Plastic can be harvested from items such as Frisbees, dog bowls, and toy robots, and electricity can be harvested from items such as batteries, walkie-talkies, and toasters. Resource management definitely plays a big part in successfully executing many of the missions, but not so much so that it overshadows the actual job at hand.
The mission objectives in the game's main campaign mode break no new ground for the genre, but the game covers all its bases well. Some missions will charge you with tasks such as overrunning a Tan Army base or simply moving your troops from point A to point B. In one mission, your objective is to secure the living room from the Tan Army to gain control of the PlayStation 2 console, which represents unlimited power for whoever controls it. In another, you'll have to escort a village of funny-voiced Lego men to safety, while protecting them from the Tan Army. There's really nothing new here, but each mission is executed well enough to excuse any lack of innovation. And if the main campaign isn't enough for you, Army Men: RTS also includes a great-battles mode, which puts you in one of eight large-scale base-building missions, as well as a special operations mode, which puts you in one of eight missions with very unique objectives. Sadly, there are no multiplayer modes in Army Men: RTS, though when you consider the limitations inherent in a split-screen multiplayer game, it's probably for the best.