Medal of Honor Vanguard

May 30, 2010 by Simon Wigham  
Filed under Nintendo Wii, Reviews

The last few Medal of Honor games have ranged from decent to awful and have never reached the heights that earlier games in the series have managed. But Medal of Honor Vangard takes a back to basics approach, the silly power ups of European Assault are gone, whilst more importantly the depressingly dire gameplay of Rising Sun is a thing of the past.

Vanguard features battles that we’ve fought countless times across the genre, complete with people shouting a lot, gunfire chattering and all the intensity we’ve come to expect and love from such a game, whilst objectives are about as familiar as a controller is to the hands of us avid gamers, the same can be evidently said of the game as a whole.

Being a Wii game that we’ve got under the scope, you’ll no doubt be eager to know how EA have made use of Nintendo’s new control scheme. Well, expectedly aiming via the remote works a treat and with far more precision than old fashioned sticks ever will manage, although it has to be said that the aiming is at times a touch off, something which is to be blamed on the game opposed to the remote. On the other hand, the actions of reloading and stance changes are assigned to the nunchuk, but in this regard the game often struggles to recognise, just which action you are trying to pull off, resulting in much frustration. Carrying out such simple actions should never be such an arduous task, even more so on a console which was crafted with accessibility in mind. It’s a godsend then that every action can also be executed by good old fashioned button presses (although some might say this takes away the whole point of the Wii). It’s as if they knew their control system was so frustratingly disobedient.

Motion sensing extends to the all new parachute segments. Here you’ll control your parachute, through both the remote and nunchuk, each of which act as separate cords, with the idea being, that whilst descending to the earth you’ll have to attempt to steer yourself towards the safest area possible to begin the mission. It only happens three times in total, but does offer a nice change from the incessant firing of guns.

This uncommon element aside, for the most part it’s business as usual. Weapon upgrades (found hidden around the levels) are admittedly something out of the ordinary for the series, but hardly a focal point, whilst the new sprint function is a good and sensible addition. We did appreciate a somewhat refreshing tense set piece towards the end of the game that had us facing off against a fearsome tank, with bazooka ammo scattered around, requiring us to scramble in and out of the cover of buildings to acquire it.

And tank encounters certainly are tricky, thanks largely to the Call of Duty style recharging health system. Also, when a grenade is within your vicinity, there’s a helpful indicator displayed on the screen, which also brings to mind Activision‘s game.

The single player is rather brief and easy (on the veteran difficulty, the challenge doesn‘t pick up until the final two frustratingly tough levels) but the split-screen multiplayer does give the game longer legs. This is all pretty standard stuff, but – as long as you can still stomach split-screen in this age of network gaming – it does offer a decent amount of fun for up to four players.

In regards to its visuals, Vanguard, bares an almost uncanny resemblance to last generations first MOH title: Frontline, which in this day and age of mind blowing graphics is unimpressive to say the very least. Of course it does look a touch better, with mildly impressive lighting and a more consistent framerate, but beautiful it is not. The musical score on the other hand is largely recycled (though it has to be said also remixed) too, but this is timeless and remains as rousing as it ever was.

Vanguard has made the Medal of Honor series fantastic again, and it’s actually better than it has ever been at least in regards to aiming controls, it’s just a shame that the same can’t be said for the awfully spotty nunchuck motion sensing. Problems aside, the latest entry in the series just makes us want the first truly next gen offering: Airborne even more.

8/10

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