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Medal of Honor Vanguard

Platform(s): PlayStation 2, Wii
Genre: Action
Publisher: EA
Developer: EALA

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Wii Review - 'Medal of Honor Vanguard'

by Aaron Lockard on May 5, 2007 @ 4:46 a.m. PDT

In Medal of Honor Vanguard you reprise the role of Frank Keegan, Corporal of the 82nd Airborne Division and engage in behind enemy lines missions throughout Europe, epic battles that turned America’s first paratroopers into heroes of WWII.

Genre: First-Person Shooter
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Electronic Arts
Release Date: March 26, 2007

EA's first WWII game for the Wii, Medal of Honor: Vanguard, is lacking in almost every aspect that a good FPS should excel. MoH:V has a good presentation because, after all, doesn't being a paratrooper in World War II and helping the Allies be victorious once again sound like fun? Being able to pick where you start your battle is a nice feature, so now you don't have to start in the middle of the fray. However, you are only able to parachute into three of the 10 missions through which you'll be fighting. In addition, if you played any other Medal of Honor titles, then you've have played this one because it just copies various levels and elements from other games in the franchise.

As mentioned earlier, you have 10 missions that are divided somewhat evenly among four campaigns, each receiving two or three missions. These campaigns will take you through four different countries: Italy, France, the Netherlands, and Germany. What will you be doing in these missions? Why the same thing you do in most other WWII games — destroy tanks, rescue missing soldiers, demolish antiaircraft weapons, and, most of all, kill Nazis.

The graphics in MoH:V for the Wii are look like they belong in a 1998 FPS; if you can think back to the original Half-Life, it was really impressive for its time, but looking at the screens now, the characters were rather blocky, there was no detail in vegetation, and all of the textures looked generic. Unfortunately, MoH:V for the Wii looks pretty similar to the ancient Half-Life most of the time, although MoH:V does boast decent lighting and good cut scenes. Even with the decrease in graphical quality, you'll notice a drop in the frame rate if the battle heats up and there are too many enemies on-screen; this causes the game to become a bit jumpy, and you may lose track of your intended target. This is disappointing because there are very few to no frame rate issues on the last-generation PS2 iteration.

MoH:V's A.I. isn't much better than its lackluster graphics. Being slightly smarter than doornails, the A.I.-controlled soldiers are very predictable and often jump in and out of cover at set intervals. All you have to do to kill enemy soldiers is to wait for them to peek their heads out from their cover. You think it will get better, but it doesn't; you can actually walk right up to them and count to 20 before they realize that you're there. Anyone with even the most basic gaming skills can easily outsmart the A.I. The soldiers are usually assigned specific jobs, such as arming MG-42's and antiaircraft guns, and they do their main tasks quite well, but fail miserably outside of that spectrum.

Now onto the worst part of the game — the motion-sensor controls. EA tried to assign nice features such as motion sensor reload, which required flicking the nunchuck to the right; 180-degree spin, which required flicking the nunchuck to the left, etc. If these controls actually worked as they were intended to, these would have been very helpful features, but oftentimes when you flick your nunchuck one way, the opposite action will occur. Other Wii games that I've played do not have this problem, and the confusion between commands can be quite hazardous for your game character. For instance, you may be kneeling behind some crates and want to reload so you flick the nunchuck right, and the game reads it as an upward nunchuck flick, which results in you standing up right in front of enemy fire.

Due to the angle difference, the pointing and shooting aspect takes a while to get used to. However, sometimes the weapon aiming would just stop working for a few seconds, or the game will overestimate the spot you'd intended, and you wind up pointing at the ceiling or the ground. Thankfully, these problems do not crop up too often. After some practice, you can become quite adept with the controls and easily snipe German soldiers from rather large distances.

This brings us to yet another problem, hit detection. It will often take two to three headshots before the opponent soldier is killed, so you actually end up firing away until the red blip on the compass vanishes, just to make sure you've killed him. This is a real problem in the last mission, in which you get the famous WWII sniper scene. Just the sniper portion of the mission can end up taking 45 minutes or more! It only takes one or two sniper shots before you die so you have to hit your target the first time you shoot, or else you're done. With bad hit detection, this task becomes a literal nightmare, and even the best gamer may end up decreasing the difficulty level a notch or two.

The gameplay itself has deviated very little from the original MoH title, and other than a few added features, it generally plays the same. You now have regenerating health, which is a welcome feature that makes gameplay last longer and, in my opinion, more fun. When you are hit, your screen now goes red, and as you take more damage, the screen fills with red until it's full, at which point you die. When you can get behind cover, you quickly heal, thus the red screen disappears. Throwing grenades is fun and accurate, but you may have problems throwing over obstacles. There were very few available weapons to choose from, and most have horrible range. Only two weapons are upgradeable, the Allied SMG and Rifle, and you don't keep your upgrades after the mission is done.

The multiplayer capability is rather limited, with two- to four-player split-screen mode and standard game types: deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture the flag, king of the hill, and scavenger hunt. I can understand that there is no online option, but EA didn't even include the option of playing against bots, so you end up with is you and a few friends playing a deathmatch on a huge map with little enjoyment.

Medal of Honor: Vanguard is EA's first attempt at developing the series on the Wii, so a certain amount of errors was to be expected, but major bugs should have definitely been worked out during QA testing. There are about eight hours of somewhat-fun gameplay here, but given the weak multiplayer offerings, there is virtually no replayability. If you want a few hours of decent gaming for your enjoyment, MoH:V for the Wii would make a good rental, but given the brief gameplay and lack of replay value, it certainly doesn't merit a purchase.

Score: 5.5/ 10


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