Medal of Honor – Vanguard is the first offering on the Wii from the acclaimed Electronics Arts World War II franchise. To say the World War II first person shooters have been completely played out would be an understatement, still, big publishers like EA and Activision continue to churn them out. Occasionally, exceptional games are still produced from this worn out genre; Medal of Honor – Vanguard, is not one of these.
In Medal of Honor – Vanguard you play as Frank Ceegan, member of the 82nd Airborne Division, as he takes you through Sicily, France, Holland and a grand finale in Germany. The precursor to each mission is the tried and true method of character narrated mission briefs and short cut scenes. This sets up the story that each mission will follow through, however it is all but the same story as every other Medal of Honor game, and most players will not give it a second glance.
Being in the Airborne Division, most entries are made from the sky, parachuting straight into the middle of a battlefield. This is one of the key touted features of Vanguard, and it certainly offers a unique experience. There is also a strategic element to parachuting as rewards can be attained for accurate drops. For the first time weapons are upgradeable, with parachute rewards offering upgrades such as scopes and grenade launchers.
The controls definitely attempt to take full advantage of the Wii’s motion sensing technology, but fall slightly short in some aspects that can leave you wanting to throw that nun chuck through your TV. Tugging on the parachute cords to direct yourself as you flow through the air is definitely the highlight of the game. The aiming is a welcome addition with the Wiimote; its precision compared to analogue sticks once you get the hang of it is a great advantage. However the atrocious hit detection leaves you having to put 4 or 5 bullets into that Nazi before any register. The range of many of these weapons is equally bad. The reloading and melee combat are even worse. Reloading is mapped to the nun chuck - flick it one way to reload, flick it the other to do a 180 degree turn. Mix these up in the heat of battle and chances are you’re a dead man. The melee combat is a complete waste of time. Stabbing forward with the Wiimote is pointless as the chances of hitting the enemy before he gets you are minute.
The graphics are fairly mediocre; the frame rate is decent for most of the game but can get bogged down a little during large fire fights or explosions. The levels are very dark and can be extremely hard to navigate. The colour of the landscape and the uniform being so similar can make it extremely hard to distinguish enemies until you are being fired upon. But it is strikingly obvious that this game was made for PS2 and just prettied up a little for the Wii.
The sound is decent. The orchestral soundtrack nicely compliments the theme of the game and helps build up an atmosphere. Solid voice acting and sound effects but nothing you haven’t seen before.
In a market already flooded with mediocre shooters, Medal of Honor – Vanguard does nothing to set itself apart from any other FPS on the market. With a higher price tag than its PS2 counterpart, Vanguard on the Wii is a tough sell for a game most will have played many times before.