World War II is apparently passe for developers now, the new hot property this holiday season being the steaming jungles of Vietnam. At least that's the case for 2015, the studio behind the ground-breaking Medal of Honor: Allied Assault.
Ignoring the fact that the use of 'Nam as the background for a first-person shooter was done with imitable style by Illusion Softworks' Vietcong almost a year ago (and replicated en masse by a series of less-than-stellar clones) 2015 has struck out to make its own mark on the genre. Men of Valor is that mark, if you can classify a generic shooter romp as a mark.
By now you'll have gathered that MoV is a little underwhelming. 2015 has only itself to blame for doing such a fine job of MoH: AA. Comparatively, MoV just doesn't stand up. But it's not an entirely lost cause. Using Epic's Unreal Engine, 2015 has done a decent job of duplicating 1965 war-torn Vietnam. Spritebased foliage is present in the extreme, with shacks, ruins and bunkers dotted around for flavour.
It's not amazing by any means - gamers have been spoilt by the likes of Doom 3 and Unreal Tournament 2004 - but it gets the job done. Yet for some unknown reason the game is incredibly system intensive, and on a mid-range machine chugs along at an 800 x 600 resolution. The highlight of the game is the subtle story beneath the gameplay and the voice acting.
Among the talent is none other than Sean Astin of Lord of the Rings fame. Astin plays Pat Hodges, a friend of the protagonist, who himself is voiced by Phil LaMarr, aka Marvin from Pulp Fiction. So it's all very exciting on the star front. Characters tell their experiences using narrative, adding palpable depth to an otherwise shallow experience.
The game has some nice visual effects - explosions cause your vision to blur and there's a haze effect for fire. Unlike Doom 3 though, it's not enough to detract from the monotonous gameplay. Unfortunately Medal of Valor brings little fresh content to the genre and will get lost amid the horde of other FPS titles available.