Men of Valor Review (PC)

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Men of Valor is an exciting game developed by 2015, which was responsible for the heavily scripted Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. Part of what made Medal of Honor so exciting was that although the game played exactly the same way every time, you took part in unforgettable larger-than-life battles. This game doesn’t stray too far from that formula, and brings it into the Vietnam setting.

Men of Valor takes place during the controversial and lately popular Vietnam War. It seems like we’ve been getting a new Vietnam shooter every couple of weeks, and yet none of them have been good. Shellshock Nam ’67, Vietcong, and Conflict: Vietnam all came out recently, and were all overwhelming sub par. It seems like developers have been using this “new” war as an excuse for not creating a decent game. The Men of Valor developers actually put some effort into making a decent game, and it shows. Although it’s not the greatest game shooter ever, it certainly does a decent job of throwing you into the turbulent Vietnam War.

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The story of the game follows a black marine and his squad through various engagements in Vietnam such as the intense Tet Offensive. The narrative spans several years, and is mostly conveyed through decent in-engine cutscenes, and “letters” to your parents. A cool novelty is that when you die, you will be presented with the letter that is being sent your parents. It has the obligatory apologetic tone and describes a bit of your mission. It feels very authentic and draws you into the experience. Other than that, it’s pretty standard war game fare, which is not necessarily a bad thing. The only real difference between this and any other WW2 shooter is that this one takes place in Vietnam.

Graphics in the game look spectacular. As would be expected from the developers of Medal of Honor, explosions look fantastic. In addition to the rich red and orange colors, there is a perfect amount of blur on your screen. Fires look just as good as explosions. Environments are rich and filled with plenty of objects, although they are a bit claustrophobic at times. That can be expected from a jungle setting, though. We’ve been seeing increasingly impressive water effects, but the water in this game is pathetic looking. It’s just like one really low-res texture.

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Character and weapon modeling is good, although nothing jaw-dropping. Animations are generally smooth, but can be prone to a few bugs every now and then. The game’s graphics are pretty good during cutscenes, and the facial animation isn’t half bad. However, there was one point where one of my squad mates was dying (in a cutscene), and rather than suffering from pain, he looked like he was having a seizure. He was twitching around as he was lying on the ground and looked something like William Shatner’s overacting in Star Trek. Overall, the graphics are well done, but would be better if some of the bugs were ironed out.

Sound is spectacular, as would be expected from a game that puts such emphasis on the intensity of the play experience. Ambient sounds are all extremely well done, and the sound of gunfire is devastating. Intensity of battles is further revved up by appropriate music that changes depending on the action. To fully enjoy the spectacular sound effects, you’ll want to get a nice 5.1 surround sound system, though. Voice acting is average, and filled with plenty of cursing and overall crude language.

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Gameplay is basically identical to the Medal of Honor series, except it is set in Vietnam. Although you are traversing a jungle, you’ll still feel boxed in almost all the time, as if you’re walking around through richly decorated corridors. This isn’t such a bad thing though, because you’ll always know where to go, and this helps give the game a quick pace, as there is rarely moments without action. As far as the action goes, you’ll be going from objective to objective, which will range from simple “keep going forward” missions to capturing POWs to defense missions.

The major problem with the gameplay is that the AI is incredibly stupid. You can literally flank them, and they’ll shoot in another direction while you blast away at them. They don’t even seem to react to being attacked, either. It’s not that surprising with the heavily scripted gameplay that the AI does not adapt to somewhat “surprising” confrontations. However, the upside of the scripted gameplay is that you’ll be taking part in plenty of spectacular moments. One such moment is when you’re defenending a hillside as hordes of Vietnamese come at you, and planes overhead drop napalm on the unsuspecting Charlies.

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You do fight alongside a team of marines, but they’re basically just there for show. They rarely hit anything, and they spray endless obscenities at the droves of Vietnamese that you’ll be shooting. At least they can’t die, so you don’t have to babysit them. You and your team will have to make your way through the visceral levels for a good 15 hours or so, but it starts to get very repetitive after only half of that.

There is 24 player multiplayer, but it pales in comparison to such offerings as Call of Duty, Counterstrike: Source, and the Battlefield series. You have the expected Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch modes, along with some objective based modes. Overall, its rather underwhelming compared to the aforementioned games, but it does play decently enough. It’s not especially flawed, and will provide some playtime after the singleplayer campaign is completed. There are some good times to be had, but it’s not worth a purchase if the multiplayer is your only interest.

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Men of Valor is unquestionably the best singleplayer Vietnam game out now. It provides a visceral experience, but it’s far from perfect. Had the gameplay been refined, and the AI a bit smarter, this game would’ve been great. As it is now, it’s just your typical scripted FPS.

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