Men of Valor Updated Hands-On

Men of Valor plunges into the heart of the Vietnam War, and we go along for a patrol in the jungle to check it out.

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After a barrage of first-person shooters based on World War II over the past few years, the next big setting for the genre is the Vietnam War, which is about as controversial as wars get. The goal in most first-person shooters is to have you run around a level and blast everything that moves. But how do you make one that fits in with the murkiness of the Vietnam War? Developer 2015 is taking aim with Men of Valor, which will place you as a marine rifleman caught up in that moral morass of the war. 2015's previous game was the action-packed Medal of Honor Allied Assault, so it will be very interesting to see how the developer will tackle the Vietnam War.

You're on point; stay alert if you don't want to go home in a body bag.
You're on point; stay alert if you don't want to go home in a body bag.

In Men of Valor, you'll play as Dean Shepard, a young African-American marine from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. As the son of a World War II veteran, you feel a sense of duty to both your country and your family; you have a younger brother back home that you don't want sent to Vietnam. Fighting alongside you are your squadmates, a racially diverse group of marines who hail from different regions of the country. As such, you can expect to hear a lot of back-and-forth banter and insults between the squad, and you'll get a glimpse of the racial and social tensions of the era.

Your squad will be dispatched on a variety of missions, from patrolling the jungle, clearing out villages, and establishing a firebase. You'll have to be careful who you shoot at, as there are not only innocent villagers, but also the media you have to worry about. For example, in one mission, you must escort a pesky reporter and his cameraman, and they'll do everything they can to annoy you. The missions themselves are packed with scripted sequences and cutscenes. Often, the camera will suddenly zoom in and you'll be issued new orders or you'll hear squadmates discuss a potential hazard ahead. Other times when the camera zooms in, you'll see one of your squadmates trigger a deadly booby trap, resulting in lots of gore.

One of the disadvantages of fighting in the jungle is that it can feel like the enemy is all around you. In one situation, your marines will encounter an enemy sniper atop a ridge, while in another moment, a seemingly peaceful village is inhabited by Vietcong waiting for you to get close. The combat itself is intense, and the enemy will come at you from every direction at times. It's important to find hard cover, because while the tall jungle grasses can offer concealment, they won't protect you from incoming fire. Thankfully, there are plenty of trees and boulders around, and you can always hunker down against one of those.

You can use the iron sights on your weapon by hitting or holding down on the right mouse button. This is useful when targeting distant enemies. The disadvantage is that you can't move when you're zoomed in, so make sure you're firing from cover. There's a health bar in the lower left corner of the screen, and it will drain as you take hits, though you can take a fair amount of damage before you die. You can also stave off death by picking up health packs that you find and searching the bodies of the dead for canteens that can restore a bit of health.

The game takes place during the middle to late 1960s. There are a wide range of American weapons in the game, from the M-14 to early M-16 assault rifles, pistols, and grenades. If you run short on ammo, you can also recover enemy weapons and use them. You can only carry a handful of weapons at a time, so select carefully.

The Thompson submachine gun is useful for clearing out huts.
The Thompson submachine gun is useful for clearing out huts.

Men of Valor is a graphically lush game, from the dense jungle foliage you'll encounter when on patrol to the mist hanging over a river valley. Flocks of birds scatter at your approach, and Huey helicopters can be seen flying by. The sound effects are also impressive, from the bark of the M-16 to the roar of fighter bombers overhead. But perhaps the most distinct sound effects are the screams and taunts of your Vietnamese opponents as they attack. Men of Valor is a mature-rated game, so be prepared for plenty of cursing and swearing.

We're impressed at how Men of Valor is shaping up. The game shows a lot of promise and potential, and 2015 knows how to make an immersive shooter that can draw you into the game. At this point, development is nearly complete, and 2015 is busy putting the final polishing touches on the game. Men of Valor should ship in late October, but you can get your hands on the multiplayer demo now.

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