hum of the aircraft engines make it hard to concentrate but even if you could
pause to reflect on your current situation all you will be thinking about is
your parachute and whether you’ll still be alive to pull the ripcord. Suddenly,
an explosion rocks the aircraft violently and where your comrades were once
standing you can see the night sky. You are sucked out of the plane but you make
no sound and when you do manage to pull the ripcord you descend towards the
Sicilian town that grows closer and closer. Forget the landing; it’s the enemy
tank and German soldiers you’ll have to worry about. This is Medal of Honor
Vanguard for the PS2, the latest installment of the Medal of Honor
role of an 82nd Airborne paratrooper Corporal named Keegan, you find
yourself jumping out of a plane to carry out Operation Husky off the coast of
Sicily, Italy during World War II. As the opening military film footage reveals,
you are part of a military unit that was still in its experimental phase and
while the Airborne unit has seen action, the 82nd still has much to
prove to top military brass. The game takes you through some of the war’s most
well-known operations from Market Garden to the bloody Varsity. Through Keegan’s
eyes we experience what these brave men have experienced during the war and how
they gained acceptance and respect from the top military brass.
Yes, we’ve seen
Airborne in action before with the Brother in Arms games and while
Keegan’s story isn’t deep and involving, we catch enough of a glimpse to realize
the sacrifices these men made and the jumps they made to give Allied forces an
advantage over Hitler’s own. It’s a story that takes us through four operations
in Europe and the battles that helped turn the tides of war and secure victory
for the Allied forces. In the opening mission, we follow Keegan and the 82nd
as they attempt to capture a key location in Sicily and reclaim an entire town.
We then follow deeper in operation Neptune, then Market Garden and finally to
doesn’t do anything particularly different from other Medal of Honor
games but it does try to include some new moves. You can easily slam the butt of
your rifle for close-quarter battles and you can pull the pin of a grenade and
hold it for a few seconds before tossing it for an earlier blast that will give
enemies less of a chance to jump out of the way of the blast. Enemies also react
differently in this game. No longer do they just stand around waiting to get
shot (like in Medal of Honor: Frontline) nor expose their position by
firing blindly (like in Medal of Honor: Rising Sun). Instead, the enemy
ducks for cover and if your troops get closer they will actually pull
back to find better cover.
The problem with
this game is that amid the exciting battles and tank missions, the game slows
down its action to the point that you will find yourself bored during various
segments through the game. In other words, Vanguard isn’t able to
maintain the energetic, bullet-fueled action of some objectives throughout each
level in the game. Secondly, there are no real surprises so if that Nazi that
pops out of a window in one segment he will pop up again at the same spot and the
same time. My biggest gripe also happens to be that checkpoints don’t pop up
often in this game so you’ll be forced to start all over from a checkpoint you
passed several minutes ago.
Vanguard might not be the most attractive game in the series and is actually
a step down for the series but it does backgrounds nice enough. You’ll be
surrounded by everything from a lush countryside to old European streets as well
as marvel at the good visual effects such as explosions and smoke effects. Even
the character models look decent but when it comes to character movement you’re
in for a nasty surprise. Characters don’t move realistically and you’ll know it
the minute a comrade crawls. The clipping can get pretty bad as well so expect
enemies to phase right through walls sometimes or somehow push a rifle right
through a solid object. Oh, and don’t get me started with the disappearing
corpses the simply blink out of existence.
What the game
does well is the soundtrack that is a highlight of the series. The beautifully
orchestrated score is dramatic, emotional and powerful but, then again, this was to
be expected since all Medal of Honor games contain amazing music. The
sound effects are also handled well enough, but unlike other games in the
series, sometimes the sound can come off as muffled for most the baffling of
reasons. Let’s say explosions fill the screen as well as your ears. Suddenly,
you turn to look at something behind you and somehow the volume of said
explosions diminishes considerably. Yeah, I know, what’s up with that? At least
the voice acting is good.
is a straightforward WWII shooter that doesn’t do anything really
new but still manages to be one entertaining PS2 action game. While there are
moments in the game where the action slows down considerably and the action can
get a tad repetitive, there are several moments in the game where the action
does get pretty intense but these moments are fleeting. In the end, Vanguard
feels more like a rental but if you’re a hardcore fan of the series you might
just want to consider picking this one up.
Review Scoring Details
of Honor Vanguard
literally drops you into the middle of some truly spectacular and thrilling
skirmishes but it also mixes these exciting moments with some really dull ones
that slow the action down. Still, it’s good to see the series attempt to push
the action further with some variety and interesting levels.
This isn’t the
prettiest game in the Medal of Honor series. In fact, earlier games in
the series have looked better than this but at least the backgrounds and visual
effects look good. The character models aren’t bad but they don’t move or react
realistically. Oh, and the clipping problems are just plain awful.
Once again the
soundtrack is powerful and cinematic and will – no doubt about it – make each
sequence feel like you’re a part of an epic. Even the voice acting is excellent
to the point that my roommates thought I was watching a war flick. The sound
effects, strangely enough, vary from detailed to occasionally muffled even on a
good sound system.
moments in the game where you’ll be overwhelmed by the number of enemies and
even more times when enemies will have the common sense to move for better
cover. Unlike past games in the series, you can’t just run and gun your way
through these levels.
The game isn’t
big on story but it’s great to see the war through the eyes of the first
American paratroopers. Many of the levels are actually pretty intense but the
few changes (such as the ability to hold a grenade a little longer to blow just
when you need it to blow) but it’s clear that the Nintendo Wii gets the best
version of this game.
The lack of
online multiplayer is disappointing but there’s four player action (using a PS2
Multitap, of course) and four multiplayer game types (Deathmatch, Capture the
Flag, King of the Hill and Scavenger Hunt). It’s all standard stuff here but at
least Scavenger Hunt is pretty fun.
for the PS2 is a strictly by-the-numbers WWII shooter that might
not do anything revolutionary but is still fun first-person shooter worth a
look. Sure, the there are moments where the action gets repetitive but for the
lower price sticker this one offers enough bang for the buck. If you’re a
Medal of Honor fan, you might just want to pick this one up.