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Company of Heroes - Tales of Valor Review

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posted on Apr, 9 2009 @ 01:43 AM
I might be the first to say this, but I won't be the last:
This expansion is hugely disappointing.

Relic, following in the footsteps of the success that was Dawn of War 2, have turned Company of Heroes into a bad attempt at Hidden and Dangerous.

There are 3 'campaigns' included, but each is only 3 short missions long. I finished the entire single player content in under 3 hours.

Each one gives you a small number of units to accomplish big things. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. The concept isn't flawed, but the execution is.

You can go into 'direct control' with each unit and aim / fire for them. While this is fun for the first mission or so, once you get more than a single squad under your control it becomes problematic.

If you toggle direct control on, selecting other squads is a pain. If you forget you have it on and go to select another squad all you will do is cause the currently selected squad to fire. Using the hotkeys can solve this problem, but some players prefer using the mouse and this new mode makes that difficult.

The units themselves are extremely powerful, similar to the hero units in Dawn of War 2. They have abilities that can be upgraded through the command menu such as grenades, high explosive rounds and demo charges.

However, you don't feel bound to these units. Relic attempt to convey personality and a backstory, but with so little time spent on it, you don't care what happens to these units.

The original CoH campaign allowed players to connect to the characters and wove the missions into the story of these officers and the men under them. Opposing Forces did this equally well. It walked that fine line of humanizing the Germans and showing they weren't all monsters. It also showed that the Allies weren't Angels.

It did what most WW2 games don't. It showed that the soldiers in the field were not to blame for the war. They just wanted to defend their countries.

But now in Tales Of Valor, you could care less whether the characters lived or died.

Not that you are given a choice. You have to resurrect squad members when they die before you can move on, or it bugs you with a blue pop up box.

The Tiger and 82nd Airborne campaigns are dull and forgettable.

The German 7th army one is better, but not by much. The characters are more believable and are explored in more depth. It also contains the only missions you can build extra units in.

As far as multiplayer content is concerned, there are 3 new modes that are yet to be populated due to the game's release being only hours old.

Skirmish has had several maps added out of the original CoH campaign such as the 'Red Ball Express' and 'King of the Hill'.

There is also a choice to replace pre-existing units from CoH and Opposing Forces with new units from this x-pac. The replacements are pretty much the same unit roles with different models.

The only huge difference is the British. Their command tank can be replaced with an armored car that dominates against infantry. It still grants command abilities.

Their Cromwells can also be replaced with mobile bunkers, known as Kangaroo Carriers, that are heavily armored and are a great platform for PIAT troops.

A more comprehensive look will be given once multiplayer servers begin to populate, but things aren't looking good.

Graphics: 9/10

The aging engine still proves it's dominance in modern RTS graphics and effects. There are no new standout effects in this expansion, but they weren't needed. Company of Heroes' graphics are still as great as they were the day it was released.

Gameplay: 5/10

The single player campaigns are dull and unimaginative. Relic have taken a step backwards from the original gameplay.

However, the new units and maps plus the original skirmish mode still delivers.

Innovation: 5/10

Several new ideas in this outing, but none that work completely.

The direct control is interesting, but becomes tedious when micro managing more than one squad.

The bite-size campaigns is something new too, but compared to the 2 previous games they feel lifeless and dull. It is hard to impossible for the writers to introduce a worthy storyline into 2 cutscenes and 3 missions.

Overall: 6/10

[edit on 9-4-2009 by fooffstarr]


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