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CoH: Tales of Valor

Reviewed on: PC

Publisher: THQ
Rated: "M" for Mature

CHEATfactor Game Review
by Joe Sinicki

Audio/Visual: 6
Gameplay: 5
Lasting Appeal: 5
Overall: 6
CHEATfactor: 6

It takes quite the remarkable experience to stand out in the ever crowded WWII field. It takes even more to do it twice.  With Company of Heroes: Tales of Valor, the latest expansion in the incredible series -- Relic came incredibly close to doing just that, but the developers’ insistent attempts to revolutionize the Real Time Strategy genre have done more to hurt the game than it has to improve it.

Tales of Valor’s existence alone is a bit of a conundrum. It’s billed as an expansion pack, but does little to improve on the existing title’s flaws. Oddly enough TOV is also a standalone title, meaning of course that it can be played without ever having touched the original – but it feels so much like the original that you may wonder if the content was merely cut material. Head hurt much? It’s best to look at the Company of Heroes saga as a book and each “expansion” as a separate chapter.

TOV’s main draw is its three new campaigns. Each of these campaigns follows a different faction through different territories.  Credit must be given to the developers for not taking the easy “The USA is good and everyone else is bad” route so many developers have. Instead, you’ll be controlling all sides of the WWII conflict. Sure, one of the campaigns does deal with the United States and D-Day (but itself is novel as it takes place immediately after D-Day).  One mission even has you going in to rescue a group of German soldiers who are surrounded by Allied troops. It’s a risky yet novel approach that pays off for TOV.

"...the new content ends up feeling a bit flat."


As novel as the approach is, the campaigns themselves are not. Each one is relatively simple and consists of roughly three missions – meaning there’s not a lot of meat to the experience at all.  Worse yet, some of these missions feel like retreads; as if they’re missions from a previous edition with a new coat of paint and story. To be fair, Company of Heroes is an outstanding series, and having more of it isn’t the worst thing in the world -- but when compared to what we’ve seen before, the new content ends up feeling a bit flat.

Of course, TOV is a student of the Dawn of War II school of “changing things that don’t need to be.”  Rather than command a massive army, you’ll spend most of your time focusing on small units, trying to get them through an entire campaign. The tactic does allow for a bit more drama, as like in Dawn of War (and Stormrise to a much…much lesser extent) you’ll find yourself actually caring about what happens to your troops, but damnit this is WWII we’re talking about – not some small conflict. I want to massive armies clashing on even bigger battlefields. It just doesn’t feel like this is the war my Grandpa told me about, that I read about in my textbooks. It kind of feels trivial.

Also new to series is the Direct Fire mode which allows players active control over their tanks and infantry. Rather than control movement like in traditional RTS games, the new mode allows players to aim and fire their weapons with the mouse. Okay Relic – I get it. You want to make the genre, which traditionally has been one of the hardest to crack, more approachable for casual gamers – but are these changes really necessary?  The great thing about RTS games is that they’re approachable from so many different angles, and you’re free to approach the game using whatever strategy you choose. Why lessen that by making it seem more like an arcade shooter?

"...the multiplayer suite is exceptionally fun..."


While the single player campaign seems to misfire more than it hits, the multiplayer suite is exceptionally fun and should appeal to a number of different gamers.  There are modes for classic RTS players who just want to take on others, and of course multiplayer campaigns – which somehow feels different than the single player though it’s essentially the same game.

There’s an old adage that says “if it’s not broke – don’t fix it.” Perhaps Relic should have listened. It’s not that Tales of Valor is a bad game – it’s actually quite an engaging experience, but given the franchise’s history, it just feels a bit flat. Die-hard fans of the Company of Heroes games will obviously enjoy expanding the game, but those new to the series will want to start at the beginning to get the full game experience.  



CHEATS USED: Unlimited Manpower, Instant Build, Unlimited Command Points, Health Drain

Undoubtedly the biggest cheat in the Tales of Valor trainer is the “Unlimited Manpower” cheat. The title may not appeal to some RTS diehards, but the ability to spawn and respawn as many troops as needed may help it become more approachable to those jaded gamers.

The great thing about the cheats for TOV is that they almost all work in conjunction with each other. For instance, you can achieve great results with using the instant buildings, command points and health drain features together.

The cheats would have gotten a higher score but the campaign itself is short, and these cheats allow you to go through it even faster. When you’re paying $50 for a game, why make it end sooner?


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