Medal of Honor: Vanguard Review
Posted by Andy Govan
Surprisingly still playing it months later, we decided to revisit this war game to see what lessons can be learnt for furture first person shooters.
What to say about the game that has already been extensively put through the media machine. As a major Wii title, you will find tens of reviews about the game all over the internet and popular game magazines. However, returning to this game for a more extended session made me realise that there are some excellent points of invention here, that not only make for an enjoyable experience, but that also should be taken forward to other games.
Medal of Honor is a game not without its faults. The enemy artificial intelligence and frustrating map design to name a couple, but I don’t want to focus on those aspects in this review. Rather we will be revisiting aspects of the game that we have really enjoyed over the last few months.
The first aspect is the implementation of the cover system. Now this is no Gears of War. On first appearances the cover in Medal of Honor can even seem fiddly and frustrating. It can be hard to tell when you are attached to a building or object and can pop your head out, and when you will simply run off. There have been a couple of times when I thought I was going to just pop my head out for a quick shot, but instead I ran screaming across the battlefield to my death. Once you get used to the more subtle implementation of cover, you can start to really use it tactically to work your way through the level. This really only comes into its own when you are playing on the harder settings, as this forces you to take your time before charging forwards.
The ingenious aspect of the cover is that you can use the Nun-chuck’s analogue stick to poke your head around corners in different directions. You can peer around the left or right of an object, or even stoop lower down to look through or under vehicles or carts. I have even found occasion where I was crouched behind a wall, when I noticed a hole in the wall, I used the Nun-chuck to lower my vision and was able to pop a few shots off through the hole.
The other glowing aspect is the analogue control system. You can ease out just the tip of your gun and let some shots off. This has a great advantage over using a button to pop out as you have more control over how much of you is exposed, and how much of a target you present to the opposing player. This comes into its own in multiplayer as you often get yourself hold up in different cover as you each try and out fox each other with your shots.
In addition to the cover system, this was one of the first games on the Wii to implement the first person shooting via the Wii-mote. Admittedly this has been done elsewhere, and since its release it has become quite a common system. But when it first came out, it really did present the game industries first baby steps towards achieving a usable first person shooter on the Wii. This was obviously not a total success as the verdict is still out as we wait for the perfect system. But it was enough of a step forward to be an exciting experience at the time.
I was particularly impressed with how well the system worked when need to hit an accurate head shot. This was something I always struggled with on traditional console controls. Medal of Honor enables you to use the Wii-mote to affect shots with precision pin point accuracy. Although this was a little clunkier for up close combat, it offered an entirely new alternative to the mouse/keyboard versus joypad dichotomy. Not only could it be played in the lounge, but it also offered that mouse like sensitivity for sniping and distance shots.
Sadly Medal of Honor is not going to be remembered as a stand out Wii title. But if it is remembered at all it should be for these ingenious aspects of the game, rather than its mediocre graphics, or even its serviceable musical score. With it getting a little longer in the tooth, you may even be able to pick it up for a bargain price.