Men of Valor represents one of the latest games in the
recent influx of activity in the Vietnam War FPS genre. The Xbox version (which
hit stores roughly a week prior to the PC version’s release) was a solid entry
to the genre, offering a compelling story and some gripping moments. However,
the game did have some flaws, namely poor graphics, a bad aiming system, and
weak AI. The PC version manages to improve on the Xbox version by offering a
great graphical presentation and intuitive PC controls that make the game much
easier (and more fun) to play. While still not perfect, the PC version of Men
of Valor offers subtle improvements over its Xbox counterpart, making it the
version to pick up if you have the choice.
Men of Valor has you controlling Marine grunt Dean
Shepard, an African American soldier as he deals with the most controversial war
in American history. Through Shepard’s eyes, you see the horrors of war, deal
with racism and experience loss and tragedy. The game’s storyline is conveyed
through in game cutscenes as well as the letters that Shepard writes home to his
family. Complete a mission and you’ll read through a letter that Shepard wrote
to his family to explain his circumstances in Vietnam and his experiences. Lose
a mission, however, and you’ll read a bereavement letter written by his
supervisor to the folks back home.
The overall gameplay in Men of Valor has a very
cinematic feel; as in you really feel throughout the game that you are playing a
movie. The situations are very scripted, and the story arc as presented through
the gameplay is very well done. However, sometimes the action sequences can
feel a little too scripted, with enemies always coming from the same spots and
attacking you the same ways.
As I mentioned earlier, the PC version offers a few
improvements over the Xbox version. The control scheme is much easier,
utilizing the mouse and keyboard configuration. You still have the ability to
stop, aim and lean, although now it is not required to aim properly thanks to
the mouse aim. The AI feels a bit more tweaked than in the Xbox game, with
fewer instances of buggy enemies. However, their attack patterns are still
pretty simplistic, more often than not composed of them running at you and
shooting as opposed to using any type of realistic guerilla warfare tactics.
The graphics in the PC version are leaps and bounds over
the Xbox game. The weapon models are slick and realistic, chock full of great
detail. The environments also boast a lot more detail, too, with excellent
water effects and nice textures and great special effects. The character models
are also very good, looking a bit more realistic and less choppily animated.
The music and sound presentation is still great. The
weapon effects and explosion sounds are very crisp and ring nicely through a 5.1
speaker set. The voice acting is still superb, utilizing a good range of
emotion. Plus the game features the talents of Sean Astin of Goonies and Lord of
the Rings fame. The music is still excellent and feels lifted from a war
picture, doing a fantastic job of setting the mood for the game and providing a
great sense of atmosphere.
Men of Valor on the Xbox was a good game, but was
ultimately plagued by many issues and flaws. However, the PC makes many
improvements over its Xbox brother, like better graphics and improved controls,
to warrant it the version to pick up if you are interested in this game. While
it’s still not perfect, Men of Valor on the PC soars above its competition in
the Vietnam War genre.
While there are
still some nagging AI issues and over scripted elements to the gameplay, Men of
Valor offers some great improvements over its Xbox counterpart. The aiming
system is much better and more natural on the PC, no longer requiring you to
stop cold in order to aim properly.
The graphics are
also a huge improvement over the Xbox version. The game features some fantastic
details and textures on weapon models, characters and environments and the
special effects look really great.
department is extremely well done, with great mood-setting music and some
excellent effects, all ringing true in glorious Dolby surround. The voice
acting is also great, featuring none other than Sam from Lord of the Rings, Sean
Astin (no, Misser Frodo!!)
The storyline in
Men of Valor is certainly one of its high points, by offering a compelling look
at the experience of the Vietnam War through the eyes of an African-American
soldier, as he deals with the heartbreak, loss and tragedy of the war. The
narrative, presented through in-game cutscenes and letters home at loading
screens, is captivating and adds a great personal feeling to the game.
The multiplayer element will not feature the co-op campaign of the Xbox version,
which may trouble some gamers. However, there are still the great staple
multiplayer games available, like CTF and Deathmatch.
Valor may have its issues, but it is still much better than the Xbox
incarnation, offering improvements in graphics, control and even slight AI
improvements. If you are thinking of picking up Men of Valor but were unsure of
which version to get, then look no further than the PC game.