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Men of Valor

ABSENT FRIENDS
A couple of niggles we do have concern judgement calls on the part of 2015. The most obvious in a game that aims for an accurate reconstruction (as far as a game can) of the plight of soldiers at war is the absence of friendly fire. At the very least an option to turn it on would have been good. Seeing as the game is partly driven by scripted events, shooting one of your buddies would have to mean mission failure and it's probably this that influenced the developers to ditch the option. That said, we would have liked to have it in as killing your guys amid the mayhem and fear of jungle-fever shooting is just so, well, Vietnam. Or maybe we've watched Jacob's Ladder a tad too many times...

The save/restart point system is also somewhat frustrating. Levels are big - so restarting from the beginning is a real pain. To that end, 2015 have restart points at various points throughout a level. The problem here is that you restart with the same ammo and life that you had before the fatal bullet cut through your brain. In some cases this is an impossible situation to get out of. We tried numerous times to take a hill with full-on enemy fire zipping like a plague of gnats around our head with so little life that it was a one-shot kill for the enemy. Factor in zero ammo on our part and it was just a case of smile and die while sheltering behind the flimsiest of fronds desperately trying to hatch a plan of survival. Needless to say, that particular plan never did hatch.

While it's not a major fault, you'd think if you're going to use the staggered restart point system, a way to survive from any given point would be provided - such as having one of your buddies throw you a little health and ammo if you have as-good-as neither. That not being the case, the restart structure did feel a tad redundant at times. On a positive note, it really does push home the need to manage your resources well. We did ask why this approach was used and were told "that's just how it is." Okay...

NERVY
It's worth restating that those niggles are just that and are hardly game-wrecking flaws. The inclusion of real events and footage coupled with the influence of films from Platoon to Apocalypse Now means that if nervy FPS is your bag, it's one you'll want to check out.

The multiplayer, while it performed reasonably well, didn't stand out as anything exceptional but we found the cooperative missions a pleasing blast. We particularly enjoyed being able to set about planning tactics to accomplish your goal, such as simply flanking dug-in foes or having one person move ahead while the other acts as a sniper and tags the enemies that reveal their positions in their pursuit of sending you home in a body bag.

Men of Valor doesn't really excel in any one department with regard to the treatment of the subject matter or from a first-person shooter perspective. However, what it does do, it does well and provides an engaging, at times fraught, thoughtfully constructed FPS that promises a fine gaming experience. It's a good example of a game that is better than the sum of its parts and those parts aren't shabby to start off with. It certainly lifted our once Vietnam jungle-jaded finger into action with renewed determination to make it out the other end.

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