Company of Heroes: Tales of Valor
Company of Heroes is a sublime game. Honoring it with an equally good expansion, however, isn’t an easy task, something made clear with this second part that’s both fun and disappointing. The game offered such a short (but good) experience that it took me days to figure out what to write about it. It’s like trying to make a painting of an unexpected lightning strike. Maybe a great image, but nonetheless still only a lightning strike.
This expansion still offers the great experience from CoH that we’ve gotten used to, but it doesn’t add much new. There are a couple of new things and extras but they don’t really impress. Overall Tales of Valor is less worked out than Opposing Fronts, the previous expansion.
We now get Direct Fire that gives the possibility to take over the shooting of your men. With this you determine who will be targeted and how many times these will be shot at (with clicking of the mouse). It’s marketed as a new tactical possibility but in reality it’s hardly usable. Next to that we also get new vehicles (two per faction) and a new multiplayer mode (three new ops) which is a bit meagre.
Of course there are also new missions, collected per three in three new mini-campaigns. They all tell the story of an (idealised) heroic act. In the first campaign, Tiger Ace, you get to command a line German tank in hostile territory. After having been messed around with it’s fun to control the battlefield yourself with a superior Tiger. The second, Causeway, has you leading an elite platoon of the 505th PIR across the La Fiere Causeway. This is a small open area that makes for a very tactical challenge. Finally there’s Falaise Pocket which is also the most difficult part. You’re again on the side of the Germans and have to keep an escape route open for hundreds of thousands of soldiers against all odds. A real millimeter fight that’s cutting edge. These missions are well-made but: way too short. You also play the same character or group of characters per campaign which can get better properties RPG-like by using points you collect on the way.
What annoyed most was the fact that to be able to play (even offline) you have to make an account at Relic and that the controlssystem is so tight that it often caused problems for me. As long as those issues weren’t solved I couldn’t even play (not even singleplayer). I don’t mind copy protection as long as it doesn’t make for more hassle but here I spent more with trying to solve the issues it caused than actually playing the game.
So, what is the conclusion? CoH: Tales of Valor is as good as its predecessors when it comes to playing experience. However, it’s more of the same and lacks some innovation. That it’s so short is a major downer and also the copy protection system rears its ugly head too much. If you’re a fan of CoH and can live with aforementioned downpoints then buying this title certainly won’t be any issue. You have fun with it but it’s best to find it at a light price as you get nothing more than a lightweight experience.