Overall score: 7/10
Graphical/audio proficiency: 9/10
New content: 9/10
Game balance: 5/10
Technical polish: 5/10
The U.S. Postal Service was on point this week, delivering my copy of COH: Tales of Valor a full day earlier than expected. Of course, they took an extra week to deliver my collector’s edition of Street Fighter IV, but that’s neither the here nor there.
TOV is essentially a lazy man’s add-on to the Company of Heroes pantheon, but that’s not to say it’s worthless. In fact, TOV is a lot of fun and feels almost like a deliberate attempt by Relic to get gamers away from the deadly serious issue of “balancing” highly competitive ranked play and back into blowing up Krauts and Yanks. My take on that? They blow up real good. If you don’t own either the original COH or COH: Opposing Fronts, TOV is a great buy for the money. Go get it now, you rookie. If you’re a COH veteran, keep reading.
TOV adds three short campaigns to the single player game, representing the Wehrmacht, Panzer Elite and Americans. Each of the campaigns — Tiger Ace, The Causeway and The Falaise Pocket — consist of three story-driven missions featuring wildly modded units and gameplay mechanics. You’ll encounter a Tiger that can fire smoke bombs and fire artillery shells, plus American Paratroopers sporting Kraut-mowing Thompsons and as they say in show biz, much, much more. These units have an absurd amount of health and their slew of overpowered abilities make every single mission relatively easy. As a result, each campaign — or “tale of valor” as Relic somewhat fancifully puts it — won’t take you longer than two or three hours.
Each campaign really shows how Relic is stretching the existing game engine to its limits. It smacks of the flavor that DotA (Defense of the Ancients) added to Warcraft III, which isn’t a bad thing in my opinion. Of course, that depends on how much you like DotA versus the original game.
The much-hyped “direct fire” mode is somewhat underwhelming, and usable only in single player and in the new multiplayer modes — you won’t be able to use it in regular skirmishes or ranked games of any kind. This video gives you a sense of how it works. With a human controlling the cannon, you’ll rarely miss even moving targets, but in general it’s not a major improvement over letting the AI fire by itself. It’s pretty entertaining to lead targets though — watch how I smack that T17 Armored Car right in the ass late in this clip:
Keep reading for a full explanation of my score, which essentially amounts to a low C — not exactly the kinda test score that’ll get you into Harvard.