Nothing can save the Medal of Honor franchise. From what was originally an innovative, involving and memorable first-person shooter has become a muddled mess with each entry. The latest has one bold idea, which is then shoveled under the mat for the disastrous core gameplay to take over. This is an embarrassment to EA.
As always, high production values attempt to shield the player from the incoming blows. The soundtrack is classic, opening moments stunning and the cinematics finely crafted. Everything afterwards is an unplayable mess.
Vanguard follows paratroopers, diving from planes into the battlefield at random spots. This is the only success for this latest sequel. Maneuvering yourself into combat with the Wii Remote and Nunchuck to steer is fun, if all too brief. It’s impressive in that no matter where you land after the jump, the game’s script continues on and always manages to stay on a strict story path.
Getting to those story points is the problems. The spot-on first-person aiming mechanics provided by the Wii are fine once you’ve found a sensitivity setting to your liking. Unfortunately, the programming nullifies this aspect of the game.
Even $10 budget shooters can handle collision detection properly. This full priced affair cannot. Apparently, your bullets are firing at Nazis in some other game as you waste countless bullets at foes that don’t know the meaning of death. At point blank, firing a shot doesn’t mean you’ll hit your target. It’s as if the bullets go clear through the models. You’ll need to fire twice the number of rounds you should to even stand a chance.
Enemy AI is meant to compensate for this or that’s the only logical excuse for why it’s sloppily implemented. Each encounter feels the same and you can predict the exact routines enemies will follow. They’ll shoot, take cover, peek out and then leave themselves wide open to line up their next shot. Worse, during some scripted sequences, enemies barrel down a street coming in waves in exactly the same spot each time. It’s worse than many space shooters from the 16-bit era.
The Wii version brings some other issues with it, namely reloading. Far too many functions have been mapped to the nunchuck, and you’ll find yourself ducking, going prone or doing a full 180-degree turn before the game finally registers that you’re trying to give yourself some offensive power. As with other versions, there is no online play either, inexcusable for a FPS regardless of the hardware.
Once past the brilliant D-day level in Frontline, Medal of Honor became obsolete. Vanguard almost is an acknowledgement of this, leaving this franchise for the dead or until a next-gen effort can help it rise back to glory in the face of superb competition like Call of Duty. It’s nice to watch Vanguard, but nearly impossible to play and enjoy.
Medal of Honor Vanguard is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Blood, Language and Violence. This game can also be found on: PS2.