Men of Valor Has Not Aged Well

Posted on July 9, 2016 by Richard Goulter
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It’s kindof fun to see a game you’d seen on store shelves 10 years ago, available on Steam.

In this case, Men of Valor, with a usual-price of S$10.50, and at the time of writing, on sale for 75% off. – Look, I removed my payment details from Steam during the Summer Sale, but I can hardly feel bad about a single S$2.62 purchase.

– The other experience I’d had with ‘old shooters’ was “Shadow Ops: Red Mercury”, for S$1.05. Which, uh, wasn’t great.

I think in terms of “action/war shooters”, Call of Duty gets its fair share of complaints for being …. dumb, non-stop ADHD explosions and mayhem. (A lot of the criticism also focussed on the multiplayer experience in those games; though I only play the single-player campaigns).
That’s a bit unfair, I’d say; since the older CoD games still hold up relatively well in contrast to the aforementioned.

“Shadow Ops: Red Mercury”’s gameplay felt a bit awkward to me. One game mechanic absent from gameplay was, you couldn’t pick up an enemy’s gun; which seems like something insignificant, but every other shooter I’ve played featured that. It also felt cheap, the gameplay felt tacky. (So I ended up getting the cheat codes and having a lot of fun with it that way; so I can hardly regret the purchase).

“Men of Valor”, while I’ve only played a handful of chapters, also feels a bit tacky in comparison. (MoH:AA was published around the same time in 2002, [2 years before SO:RM or MoV], CoD not much later in 2004; “Battlefield: Vietnam” in 2004;“Far Cry” in 2004!).
MoV’s story & cutscenes are cheap and tacky, fine. But the gameplay … MoV’s health system allows you to die pretty quickly. In typical modern shooters, this is counter-balanced by mechanics like a cover-system, or by e.g. health regeneration. MoV’s mitigation is some delay before enemies shoot at you, & that you must ‘bandage’ the damage received. (i.e., damage you receive is essentially ‘potential damage’, so you ‘bandage’ it to heal the potential damage. But being shot completely will kill you; so the system has all the drawbacks of a CoD-style system and a Far Cry-style system, without the benefits of either).
– It’s just not fun to play; every time I picked it up, my main motivation to keep playing the level was the thought of how fucking boring it would be to replay through the level (& shitty cutscenes).

In a way, I kindof feel bad about it. (Or I did, before learning that these shitty games were released the same year “Far Cry” was).
CoD’s gameplay style (frequent checkpoints, wherein checkpoints are free; quick/free recovery of health from behind cover, etc.) don’t particularly create high-stakes. The player is there for the ride, not for an experience which demands anything of them.
I guess what CoD, and other good shooters (like those using a Quake engine) 10 years ago established/relied on good game mechanics (& so don’t age abysmally); which these shitty cheap ones I’ve mentioned earlier … didn’t.

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