Men of Valor: Vietnam Review
Let’s skip the obligatory reviewer comments on the setting of Men of Valor: Vietnam. Rather than waxing poetically on the socioeconomic implications of the Vietnam War, I am going to assume that you’re familiar with the conflict and really just care whether or not Men of Valor is a good game. Well, I can tell you that it is certainly better than average, but stops short of greatness due to some shortcomings and frustrating aspects.
In Men of Valor you play a US Marine stationed in Vietnam just as things start to turn really hot. Your missions will begin with a patrol to locate the source of “nuisance” rocket attacks on your base and as the war escalates you’ll find yourself clearing villages of VC, escorting TV news crews, patrolling rivers on boats, manning helicopter machine guns, and clearing out VC tunnels – basically a cross-section of the missions carried out by the USMC during the war. The missions themselves are in the style of the Medal of Honor games, which is not too surprising considering that the game’s developer 2015 also created Medal of Honor Allied Assault. The game’s missions are heavily scripted and give you a set of objectives to accomplish as you move from one set piece battle to the next triggering events along the way. This style of play worked for the Medal of Honor games and it works well here, providing you with a deeper and more immersive storyline than can be delivered by a strictly action game.
|Yeah, you really can get this close to the enemy.|
Men of Valor does a good job of capturing the unique aspects of the Vietnam War – this is not simply Medal of Honor with German characters replaced by Vietnamese. The jungle and small village environments make it difficult to see the enemy and even to know when he is around, until it is too late. The battles that take place in the open rice paddies are just as tense as there is a decided lack of cover as VC and NVA open fire from brush outcroppings in all directions. Booby traps, ambushes, and grenade wielding villagers all create a tense atmosphere in which death can come at anytime from anywhere and you can’t even tell friend from foe. Well, you almost can’t tell friend from foe because once the shooting starts you have an invaluable aid in the form of your aiming reticule. Your reticule will turn red when placed over an enemy, even if you can’t quite see that enemy. You can be in thick brush, taking fire from behind rocks and trees, and all you really need to do is sweep your rifle around until it turns red and then fire off a few shots. I can’t even count the number of times that I walked away from a deadly situation simply because I could pick off the enemy without needing to see them. I can guess that this feature was added to make the game easier on the player, but it definitely detracts from the game’s atmosphere and authenticity.
The reticule issue is minor in comparison to the much bigger problem of the AI in the game, or rather the lack of AI in the game. When in full-fledged firefights there’s so much action that the AI’s shortcomings are not so apparent. In other situations, though, it can be a major detractor from the games realism and your enjoyment of it. As an example, you will face missions where you need to go building to building or hut to hut to clear the enemy from an area. At first this appears to deliver some tense action as you cautiously make your way from one firing position to the next until you can safely enter the next building. You’ll soon discover however that this work is unnecessary - all you really need to do is to get close enough so that you have a firing line into the building, at times you can even crouch in the building’s doorway. Then you just have to wait as one enemy soldier after another enters from the same spot, walks right into your firing line, and joins the pile of dead bodies on the floor. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel. Even when you run right into an enemy in the field you’ll have a several second advantage because he may not react to you right away, looking just past you as you fire a shot into his head.