Review By: Matt Flanagan
|# Of Players:||1-4|
World War II has been a pretty popular theme for first person shooter games almost since the genre’s birth, and unfortunately it’s gotten to the point where I honestly don’t look forward to playing these games anymore. The genre is so flooded that I automatically equate "WWII themed FPS" with "unoriginal". Despite that, I figured that Medal of Honor: Vanguard game was worth a look primarily because of the Wii’s control scheme, but sadly even that can’t elevate this title past being average.
You play as Frank Keegan, a paratrooper in World War II. The plot is something we’re all accustomed to, whether its from playing WWII shooters in the past or history class, and isn’t really anything that will surprise anyone. This isn’t really a big deal in games of this type since they generally have forgettable stories anyway, but here the story basically exists for the sake of the game actually having a story. You start off each of the game’s (far too few) levels with a cutscene that’s moderately well done, and then are dropped into the action where you do things you’ve probably done in many other WWII FPSes before. Bombing buildings, attacking enemy strongholds, and killing many many more Nazis...all stuff we’re used to.
Speaking of killing Nazis, it isn’t hard this time around since the AI is pretty stupid. Enemies will generally shoot you from obvious unprotected positions, while your teammates shoot from equally open positions. This makes the battles seem unrealistic and silly when they involve a bunch of people standing in plain sight waiting to be shot and not seeming to care. While killing all the enemies in an area does take some strategy, the individual soldiers really don’t show any interest at all in self preservation beyond "occasionally ducking behind something." Another issue with the AI is that enemy soldiers tend to get a little confused when you stop shooting from far away and actually try to shoot at close range. They’ll sometimes shoot at you, and sometimes stand there awkwardly running back and forth or spinning around. Your teammates aren’t the brightest either, which will become apparent after they move to the next area and take up pre-set positions where they have a lot of trouble hitting the enemy soldiers who are standing out in the open.
The controls are passable, but at times don’t feel responsive enough. Aiming with the Wiimote is a marked improvement over what we saw in Red Steel in single player, but is very poorly done in split-screen multiplayer as EA seems to have forgotten to adjust it to work for the smaller screen sizes, meaning that even though your screen is split into smaller sections you still use the whole screen for aiming. The use of the Nunchuk and Wiimote as parachute straps to control your jumps is clever and well done, but unfortunately you spend such a tiny amount of game time actually parachuting that it doesn’t really matter.
The music is probably the best part of the game, as it’s very well done and plays at the right times. Voice acting is pretty good too, but phrases are repeated over and over again, and while they start off being helpful, it becomes annoying to be constantly warned about that sniper you already know is there. The graphics are nice to look at, but sadly suffer from the "I've seen that in that other game" problem that’s running rampant through this game. I should also mention that hit detection isn’t very good here, and you’re generally better off repeatedly shooting in an enemy’s general direction than trying to line up a shot. It’s very frustrating to shoot the same soldier in the head twice and watch them continue to walk around completely unfazed.
The game is also very very short; if you drag your heels you might be able to stretch it out to about 7 hours, if of course you can stick around long enough to beat it at all. The difficulty shoots up dramatically, and the very conservative number of checkpoints you’re provided with really starts to become apparent to the point where it crosses that fine line between being "hard" and being "frustrating. Eventually it reaches the point where you don’t really want to play anymore, and that is probably what you’ll decide to do.
While the game isn’t terrible, we’re at a point where just being not terrible makes this game just another WWII FPS pushed into a market overflowing with average ones already. While this is probably worth renting, it’s not really something I can say is a better rental than any of the many other very similar games out there, and you’re probably better off just picking up an older WWII game out of the bargain bin, as you might not even notice the difference.
Posted: 2007-08-02 20:42:42 PST