Review By: Andrew Joy
|# Of Players:||1 (2-32 online)|
|Accessories:||Nunchuk, Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, Wii Zapper|
Company of Heroes. Medal of Honor. Hearts of Iron. Call of Duty. What do they all have in common? Middle name? No. They are all video games set in the rich backdrop of World War II, and gamers have always had a lot of choices in that area, especially when it comes to first-person shooters (where the titles start to branch out and include things like “in”). For my money, I’ve come to prefer that last franchise, I’m not really sure why. Is it that Infinity Ward seems to put a lot of hard work and (I presume) love into each and every title they work on, or simply because the acronym is also a fish? It’s hard to say. However, the Medal of Honor series is no slouch either, and – if the Modern Combat of Call of Duty 4 isn’t for you – I hear Airborne is about the most authentic WWII experience available on “next-gen” consoles today. Unfortunately, MoH (see, no fish there) has been in so many hands, including some that went on to craft CoD, that the series has been a veritable roller coaster ride of quality. I'm sorry to say that the latest game in the series, Medal of Honor: Heroes 2, isn’t immune either, and suffers from quite a bit of inconsistency throughout the entire game. The game is filled with so many ups and downs that the real question becomes whether or not its small victories are worth its losses. The answer all depends on what you’re looking for.
The game’s premise is simple: As a member of the Office of Strategic Services, the organization that would lay the groundwork for the modern-day CIA, you’re tasked with bringing down Nazi Germany from the very belly of the beast and preventing Hitler from getting his hands on the Atomic Bomb. Even though you’ll be playing as an all-new character, in this case OSS Operative John Berg – a name no doubt chosen from a long list of historically accurate and relatively obscure WWII soldiers – the gameplay in Medal of Honor: Heroes 2 is just the same as almost every game in this series (or any other WWII shooter). Naturally, this boils down mostly to cutting a swath through wave after seemingly endless wave of Nazi soldiers using a number of interesting weapons (and a number of uninteresting ones, too), like anti-aircraft, sniper rifles, bazookas and many more. The game is comprised of just eight levels, ranging from the obligatory beach invasion to the sewers beneath a city being bombed to very bowels of an enemy base, all of which you’ve probably seen before if you’ve ever even dabbled in the genre. Unfortunately, the experience isn’t lengthy at all, and those eight missions translate into less than six hours or so of actual gameplay. Offering multiple difficulties and the chance to replay any mission for a higher completion rate (each one has secondary objectives you can pick-up by making radio contact with your allies) and be awarded several special condition medals (much like Achievements) helps, but the replay value is still moderate.
Thankfully, the game makes up for its somewhat lackluster campaign with additional modes of play. As Medal of Honor: Heroes 2 was released just a week before the Nintendo Wii Zapper (which includes the pack-in Link’s Crossbow Training), the game includes a special mode of play designed specifically for use with the little plastic attachment. Similar to the old light gun games you’d find in movie theaters and the like, Arcade mode is an on-rails shooter. The game controls your motions, and all you have to do is point and shoot at Nazis and health packs. Though it does, for the most part, feature the same levels as the Campaign, the fact that Arcade mode controls your movement, leaving you free to point and shoot at enemies and health packs, means it can only provide a fun diversion and a great stepping stone for inexperienced players. However, for veteran players, the biggest draw of this game is likely to be the online play. While there are a few titles that offer support for Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, most of them are sports titles and the only other “war game” available is Battalion Wars 2. So, when EA came along promising an FPS with 32-player online multiplayer on Wii, you can bet gamers’ ears perked up. While they did indeed deliver on their promise, the end result is something of a mixed bag – it is an average effort, light on variety (Death Match, Team Death Match and Capture the Flag are it) and heavy in bugs.
No matter how you decide to play, online or off, there are a number of bugs and niggles you’re going to have to endure. In the Campaign, the biggest bother is the A.I. Whether it is the enemy soldiers or your own, it is often times just rock dumb. From beginning to end, I watched as the warring factions took cover behind the same object, took cover on the wrong side of an object or sometimes just didn’t bother to take cover at all (often times when gunfire is at its heaviest, too). Also, on a number of occasions, you could simply pass by an enemy soldier and attack them from behind as they continue to aim in the wrong direction. Apart from the A.I. (though it is by far one of my biggest pet peeves), sometimes you’ll get an indicator telling you a grenade has been tossed and sometimes you won’t. Also, even after you’ve cleared an area out, the game likes to re-spawn enemy soldiers in a secure area like they’re robots from the future (a-la Terminator), making for a nasty surprise if you happen to backtrack. These may seem like small things at first and we might have accepted them…if this were five years ago. However, in an age where the WWII shooter has been beaten into the ground like a tent spike, these things border on unforgivable, and you’ll realize how annoying they are once you are playing.
Posted: 2008-01-17 18:59:18 PST