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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Strategy

 

Publisher

THQ

 

Developer

Relic

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

April 9, 2009

 

 

- Great visuals

- Excellent attention to audio details

 

 

- Minimal content

- Poor play balance on the campaigns

 

 

Review: Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts (PC)

Review: Red Alert 3: Uprising (PC)

Review: Empire: Total War (PC)

 

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Company of Heroes: Tales of Valor

Score: 6.0 / 10

 

Relic has gotten the model for RTS down cold, and while they're willing to experiment here and there, they know a sure thing when they see it.  Case in point: Tales of Valor, the newest expansion to the Company of Heroes series.  It would be completely understandable to call this Dawn of World War II, due to the familiar mechanics and even standalone nature that so easily mimics the very successful Dawn of War series.  It gives a solid experience, but one that is far too short and one that is highly dependent upon users having the previous entries in the series.

 

tales of valor          tales of valor

 

Visually, Tales of Valor gets the job done with great detail.  While it's not quite at the level of Dawn of War II, it's still damned good.  Infantry moves smoothly, tanks roll like juggernauts, jeeps bounce, and everything goes flying when artillery strikes are called in.  There was no obvious visual slowdown that I could find and no

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smaller flaws like texture cracking or rendering issues.  The folks over at Relic did their homework and I'm heartily impressed by the results.

 

The expansion proves as much a feast for the ears as it does for the eyes.  Various firearms are distinct from each other, explosions are appropriately booming, and the small stuff like engine noises and bullet ricochets off armor add

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to the joy.  Voice acting in the game is also top notch.  While you won't see A-list stars lending their voice talents, the actors who did appear deliver the goods.  The accents feel right and the mannerisms feel right.  The music was fairly good, but the soundtrack seemed very limited to me.  There didn't seem to be much of a difference between the score when playing as the Americans or as the Germans, and that's really a bit of a shame given the attention to detail lavished on the other audio portions.

 

As I said at the start, Tales of Valor doesn't seem to stray too far from the Dawn of War mechanic.  Resources are constantly flowing in at varying rates depending on territory held.  Troops are built from an HQ location, already in squad level strengths, and sent out to hold and conquer territory.  It's easy to pick up, which is a plus for folks who misses earlier games in the series.  However, as far as expansion packs go, especially expansion packs from Relic, this one feels absurdly small compared to meaty expansions like Dark Crusade and Soulstorm for Dawn of War and the earlier Opposing Fronts expansion for Company of Heroes.  We're given three campaigns broken up into three missions each which we're probably supposed to look at as three-act plays or stories.  Nine whole missions is mighty slim pickings, and it's more aggravating that the play balance seems so badly out of whack.  The first two campaigns are fairly easy on the Normal mode, but the third ramps almost straight up in difficulty, whether in an effort to "heighten dramatic tension" or just poor balancing work, nobody can say.  While there are new multiplayer modes, it still doesn't really add all that much to the game.

 

The target audience for Tales of Valor is the completest, the sort of person who's been jonesing for a fix.  The problem is that this particular hit of RTS goodness isn't all that great because there's so very little to it once you get down to the actual gameplay.  If you've got the original game and the first expansion, Tales of Valor will probably soothe your need for a little while, but the rest of us aren't going to get very much out of it.

 

- Axel Cushing

(May 14, 2009)

 

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