The winning formula remains unchanged but the reduced scope of the new missions sap the fun out of the game
Tales of Valor features three short campaigns - the romp of the village of Villers-Bocage in a Tiger tank(Tiger Ace), the assault of the heavily defended La Fiere Causeway by American airborne divisions(Causeway) and the defense of the Falaise Pocket from Allied attack(Falaise Pocket).
All three campaigns suffer from the crucial drawback of poor mission design, something that the original Company of Heroes excelled at. The 2006 game might not have been completely original, but the way the missions tied into the story and the larger narrative of the game was unbeatable. On the other hand, the secondary and 'medal' objectives in Tales of Valor seem to be mostly thrown in for the sake of it and probably served to add more complexity to the game than being relevant to the primary objectives.
The Tiger Ace and Causeway campaigns are too narrowly scoped as the focus is on only a handful of units and all you do here is move units in and out of cover when you're controlling infantry and flanking if you're controlling a tank. It is annoyingly straightforward and there are simply no decisions to be made here. Ultimately, the depth and the variety of the gameplay is sacrificed for a closer-to-combat experience. To add to its woes, these units are too strong and even on the hardest setting, the missions are a breeze.
Falaise Pocket, even with its flaws, is probably the saving grace for this standalone expansion. You are given more options here; you can build units and structures. However, pacing is inconsistent, and this is particularly obvious when you're given a 'defend the position' type of mission with secondary objectives to setup defenses at particular choke points, but not given any time to set them up. I would have enjoyed the mission much more had I been given the chance to pit my well set defenses against a determined attacker.
In addition to poor pacing, Falaise Pocket also had the problem of having a confusing mission design, where there were way too many things to do; to the point where it started to feel like an APM game and continuously cycling through a number of points on the map became tiresome.
On a more general note, the narration in Tales of Valor is another letdown compared to the original Company of Heroes. The cut scenes seem to be forced just for the sake of giving a story to the missions and the voice acting feels distinctly out of place.
On the bright side, the core gameplay remains the same, complete with its immersive WW2 experience, intense action moments and highly destructible environments. There is also a good mission variety, and it is loads better than the repetitive build the base, attack the enemy routine that most RTS games offer. So kudos to that.
The expansion also adds three new multiplayer modes to the game. I am not much of a multiplayer gamer myself, but the new modes seem to be half-hearted attempts at bringing something new to the table. They certainly are attempts in the right direction, but they are yet to be developed into attractive multiplayer features.
The original Company of Heroes had set the bar too high and Tales of Valor falls miserably short. It's not worth buying the game, unless you get it very cheap. Even if you do end up getting the game, don't bother playing Tiger Ace or Causeway.