Men of Valor is scripted from here to kingdom come. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I just want to get that out of the way first. Somewhere along the way, scripted combat got a bad rap and I’m not really sure why. Well, if you can get past the scripted nature of this game, then you’re in for some fun.
In support of scripted action, the jungles and characters in Men of Valor are top notch. Finally there’s a game that actually has characters that seem like they could have been in the Vietnam War. Now, by saying that I mean that it sounds like whoever wrote the dialog at least watched some war movies before putting pen to paper. During normal conversation you’ll hear an amazing amount of cursing, and during combat it really hits home. That’s not to say that profanity is fantastic, but at least it’s not another game that guys are yelling “SHUCKS” while receiving enemy fire. Just wouldn’t happen.
The jungles are lush and thick with foliage and trees that you or the VC can hide behind. That being said, there’s always the fact that you’re walking through a walled corridor that’s been cleverly disguised as some trees. I mean, it’s understandable seeing as how a completely wide-open area or an explorable jungle would be a nightmare of rendering, but it would be nice to not have that “on rails” feeling. One thing can be said for Men of Valor, it definitely captures the look and feel of Vietnam.
The sound is also very nice. The voice acting in Men of Valor is really great and everything else fits in well too. The ambient sound and little glimpses of wildlife are also really cool. There’s nothing like seeing birds suddenly taking flight to let you know that something is definitely about to happen, and when that something happens, the firefights are all encompassing and a little nerve-wracking.
The AI programming is fairly intense and well designed which is witnessed by the efficient ways the computer controlled opponent can take you apart. It’s a common game occurrence in Men of Valor to see the enemy hiding behind bushes and trees while slowly making advances or hastily retreating. Of course, being killed by such wonderful programming brings us to one of the downsides of the game.
Let’s say you’ve spent a good while on a level, slowly crawling through the jungle looking for enemies and taking them out carefully. Then, all of the sudden, you’ve missed one and BAM you’re dead. I really hope you liked that level because you’re about to play it again! Needless to say, the continue points need some work. There’s the big downer involved in not being able to save a game mid-level and there’s jerkiness of the animation. Some of the NPC animations often look like a bizarre puppet show. I mean, I’m all for the performing arts and all but this is just craziness! Well, it’s not really all that bad but you’ll notice some odd movements and unnatural positioning from the computer controlled characters on occasion. It’s much easier to overlook the stiff animation than the bad save design.
In the end, however, other than the erratic save points and somewhat goofy animation, there isn’t all that much you can really slight about Men of Valor. Really what it all comes down to is that Men of Valor is a solid game but it doesn’t really do anything new or unexpected other than exceed as an actual good Vietnam game. Sadly enough, in a market completely saturated with FPS games that are, for a large part, historically based, there isn’t much real competition for the Vietnam War crown. So really Men of Valor is the best game in its very specific genre, but it won’t take a lot to overtake.