The subject of the Vietnam War is really quite taboo in American society. Itâ€™s sort of like our sordid little secret, and this attitude may explain why this very conflict has yet to make any major headway into the gaming world. Sierra Entertainment is looking to change all of that with Men of Valor: Vietnam.
A Promising Start
One of the best things that Men of Valor: Vietnam has going for it right off the bat is the fact that 2015, the team responsible for the Medal of Honor: Allied Assault series, is handling its development. This fact certainly suggests that Men of Valor will do its best to convey the sheer chaos and intensity of modern warfare.
Depth of Campaign
So far, the single-player campaign that Men of Valor will offer is looking to be very deep indeed. The game will follow the Vietnam conflict from the first major engagement between US ground forces and Vietnamese forces in 1965, and ultimately culminating in the 1968 Tet Offensive. The developers are obviously being both careful and respectful in their handling of the subject matter, making sure not to trivialize the events of the conflict while doing substantial amounts of research to ensure accuracy.
To further engage the gamer, while also highlighting many of the Vietnam conflictâ€™s major battles, the player will start out as a Private in the USMC, 3rd Batallion, 3rd Marines; and through the course of the campaign, you will transfer to different units, facilitating Men of Valorâ€™s ability to give a fairly accurate historical representation of the Vietnam Warâ€™s more famous battles.
To further capture the mood of the conflict, in addition to the more traditional notions of mission objectives, the main character will also be driven by his desire to ensure that both he and his comrades survive their tour of duty. This is certainly a digression from the path most games of this nature take, but is somehow very appropriate given the material. Taking full advantage of the Xboxâ€™s capabilities, Men of Valor will also allow for System Link as well as the ability to tackle the campaign mode in Co-Op fashion.
In addition, Sierra Entertainment and 2015 are striving to create an action-packed tribute to the Vietnam War, using clever AI that will seek and use the cover that the dense jungle environments will offer. AI will be just as tenacious in their efforts to survive as the gamer, so they wonâ€™t make implausibly bad judgment calls in the ways that they react and behave. Meanwhile, scripted events will do their part in helping to maintain the chaotic pitch of the battlefield.
Tell Me What To Do
Given their role in the Vietnam War, squad-based tactics will also play a substantial part in the single-player campaign, allowing the gamer to issue general commands as well as issuing specific commands to the individual squad members. In addition to your fellow man, you can expect to man vehicles as well as call upon mortar, artillery, and air strikes as you battle your way through the jungles of Vietnam.
EA Will Not Thwart Us This Time: We Will Have Live
Fortunately, unlike Medal of Honor on the Xbox, Men of Valor: Vietnam will be featuring Xbox Live support. As of right now, the developers will be incorporating the standard multiplayer modes, such as deathmatch and capture-the-flag, however, the multiplayer maps will be designed with specific battles of the Vietnam conflict in mind. Vehicles and artillery strikes are also looking to join the fray. By all accounts, Men of Valor: Vietnam is going to offer some inventive online play.
They Will Not Be Daunted
One would be safe making the assumption that the most challenging aspect of making a first-person shooter set during the Vietnam War would have to be the environments. Jungles, by their very nature, are very dense and detailed. Add to that the recreation of the effects of years and years of waged wars, and youâ€™re looking at a different beast altogether.
It appears that the developers are working tirelessly to inundate gamers with ambience. Screens so far indicate that Men of Valorâ€™s environments will exude the almost surreal look of a war-ravaged jungle. Evidence of artillery strikes and battles wage will manifest itself in the form of shattered trees, muddy craters, and lingering smoky hazes. Jungles, like their real-world counterparts, will be thick with vegetation, providing enemy units with ample ambush positions, but Men of Valor: Vietnam will also offer some more open environments as well. All in all, the team at 2015 is doing a commendable job of bringing these environs to life.
Character models for both US and VietCong forces are looking pretty detailed, sporting mud-caked uniforms and battle-weary faces. So, itâ€™s apparent that the developers are more than up to the task of recreating the landscape of war-era Vietnam.
Given the promise that Men of Valor: Vietnam is showing at this point in its development, I have to say that Iâ€™m shocked that more people arenâ€™t expressing any substantial interest in the game. To be honest, I had really let this one slip off of my radar following its initial announcements. Maybe weâ€™re all just fixated on the big-name, hyperbole-enhanced titles, like Halo 2 and Half-Life 2. But Men of Valor: Vietnam is shaping up to be a noteworthy entry into the first-person shooter genre. I just hope more people start taking note.
AndrÃ© H. Fredrick — FunXbox Editor in Chief