reviews\ Jun 17, 2002 at 8:00 pm

Uncommon Valor: Campaign for the South Pacific - PC - Review

Being a grunt is easy, run, shoot, duck for cover. Being the Commander in charge of the South Pacific Theater is a little more difficult, you have to supply, transport, and command your own troops while keeping an eye on the movements of your enemy. Uncommon Valor gives you all the tools to do the job....if you are up to it!

Uncommon Valor is basically a turn based war simulation designed to be played as either a single player game against the computer AI, or as an email based game against an opponent, in which you control the movements and actions of individual Units, Squadrons, and Task Forces. Either way the game is full of details to keep even the most hard-core war gamers full attention, but friendly enough to draw in a novice player, given enough time to master the complex interface of the game.

Now this game isn't the flashiest game available, the graphics are pretty limited and the sounds leave a lot to be desired, but the game makes up for it with it's extensive interface and gameplay. You literally get to control just about everything from re-supply, to the building of new bases. From planning and executing bombing missions, to the escorts that will fly cover for them. From transporting fresh troops to the front lines, to searching out enemy submarines. And all the while you have to keep a sharp eye on the reports coming from your coast watchers, giving you updated reports on enemy movements.

Controlling all of these details might overwhelm a novice player at first, but given time to practice and master the interface and all of the commands start to come pretty naturally, it even becomes rather addictive, making sure that supplies and troops are being moved to the right areas, checking available resources before planning a bombing raid, and trying to keep an eye on those marauding enemy submarines.

The game features 17 scenarios ranging from missions lasting only a few days to those that will last a whooping 20 months. And Uncommon Valor, unlike some other war games does not try to remain historically correct, meaning that the enemy COULD win the war! The Japanese in this game will play at full strength, taking only the casualties and losses of ships and planes that you inflict, this makes things very interesting indeed!

The one weak point that everybody will notice is the lack of a printed manual for the game. This would be very handy for quick reference during play, but perhaps they thought the cost of printing such a huge manual would be prohibitive, but whatever the manufacturers reasons, the in game manual is simply accessed through the alt-Ctrl keys at any time you need it. Or perhaps you will opt for printing the manual yourself (have a fresh ink cartridge and a full ream of paper ready), but the best option may be to only print the crucial portions of the manual and use the in game manual for the rest. Whatever you choose, the manuals information is extensive and complete and should be read before attempting Gameplay.

This game does have a few minor glitches and flaws (all games do) but they are to few to point fingers at. If you are looking for a good well rounded war game, then this one hits the nail pretty square on the head. Ovaldog gives it a big thumbs up.

Gameplay: 8.8
Gameplay is turn based and the game can be played against the computer AI, or against another opponent as an email based game. You control Units, Squadrons, and Task Forces, to gain control over the South Pacific Theater during W.W.II. You control every aspect of operations from supply and resupply to troop movements and bombing raids. Damage reports keep you informed of the results of your actions at the end of every turn. 17 scenarios range in length from several days to many months. The interface is difficult at first and does require some major time and practice to master, but once mastered the game will provide countless hours of addictive play. The amount of control and details covered are enormous and well laid out.

Graphics: 7
The graphics are sparse, just enough to get you by really. But then you are playing a war game, where maps and charts are more important than stellar graphics, bells, and whistles.

Sound: 7
Again, the sounds are just enough to get you by. You won't need surround sound to play this game, which is more about strategy than sound effects.

Difficulty: Medium to Hard
This is a full fledged war game complete with just about every detail you could want, and to master it takes a considerable amount of time and practice. Once you have mastered the interface, your next challenge is to use enough strategy to overcome the enemy and win the war. Don't be fooled, this game is very challenging (but rewarding and highly addictive), but then so is real war.

Concept: 9
I love that the developers decided to take just one theater of war to concentrate on, and then only the major areas of engagement, the ones that ultimately decide the war. But the major twist is that they do not try to remain text book rigid on history. What I mean is that in this game the Japanese start at full strength and only take the losses you deal out, this changes the very outcome of some of the battles that will be fought and could lead to a win by either side. In other words, it lets you write the history based on your actions and decisions. COOL!

Multiplayer: 7
Multiplayer is available through turn based email, in which each players actions are mailed to the other player, this can turn the game into a long-term campaign, although it does give you time to consider your every move.

Overall: 8.5
I really enjoyed this game (once I semi-mastered the interface), while it isn't flashy, it is addictive, trying to make sure every detail is covered before your turn ends can be quite a chore, but the results are well worth the effort it takes to learn the game. It is very enjoyable and should provide countless hours of play (as each and every campaign will be different depending on your individual decisions). Much thought went into this game and it shows. Ovaldog gives it a big thumbs up!


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