Even when the tank’s treads started rolling again I retained control of the turret, making the RTS feel a bit like an action RPG. The command-point tree for this mission added to that feeling; it usually unlocks abilities like airstrikes and weapon drops, but here it offered Tiger upgrades like increased rate of fire, increased speed, and an anti-infantry mine launcher that clears out any pesky troops surrounding the tank. Rampaging through the French villa blasting tanks and running down infantry reminded me why it’s often an RTS gamer’s dream to seize control like this - all too often the AI, no matter how smart it is, just doesn’t do exactly what you had in mind.
I did not get to try out the new skirmish modes and maps designed for co-op play that Relic described, but they sound compelling. One mode, called Invasion, has players attempt to hold a town against waves of enemy troops. There’s no base building to worry about, just pure tactical unit management.
Relic is determined to avoid splitting the online multiplayer community with a lot of new units in the expansion, but each side will have access to a new vehicle that replaces an existing one. When going into multiplayer matches, you’ll be able to choose between the new version and the old one based on your play style. Relic showed off the American/British Staghound, a light armored vehicle, but hasn’t yet determined what its exact combat role will be.
The other big feature Tales of Valor implements is a foundation for further growth - an interface through which you’ll be able to download future mini-campaigns and multiplayer maps from within the game. Who knows where they’ll take us from there?
+ A total of four and a half hours’ worth of campaign might not be enough material to qualify as a full-fledged expansion.
– With less emphasis on base building, the onus will be on Relic to create a tactical experience that isn’t just a shooter played from overhead.
Dec 2, 2008