Review by Hysteria__
"Don't blink, you might miss it."
Let's get one thing clear;
I love WW2 FPS', and couldn't be happier that the genre is being played to death. I've never played a Call of Duty that I didn't like, and the two games (for PS2, at least) in the Brothers in Arms series rank among my all-time favorites. EA's Medal of Honor series, however, was a series I hadn't played since Underground for the PS1. So, it's been a while. And, seeing as EBGames was out of the latest Call of Duty, and I had a fair bit of Christmas money left, I thought it was about time to give Medal of Honor a try. I'm not going to say how much I paid for it, other than that it was about $54.99 too much.
So let's get right into it; Graphics. Vanguard's graphics, even on the aging PS2, are very well done. The weapons, explosions, and especially lighting/sun glare are a pleasure to look at, and the Iron Sights (which all FPS' should have, by the way) were pretty good as well. (For those that don't know, Iron Sights is when you look down the barrel of your gun to aim (as opposed to a crosshair on the screen)). But, as every true gamer knows, a pretty game isn't worth anything if all it is is pretty.
The gameplay, like the graphics, is above average. The ability to sprint (L2 or L3) is a great addition, and the implementation of the sprint bar was done well. There is also (and I don't know if this is new to Vanguard or not) the ability to 'cook' a grenade; that is, instead of throwing a grenade into a bunker or trench, and waiting for the grenade to detonate (thereby giving Germans near it crucial seconds to escape) you can, using X when grenades are selected, pull the pin and wait before you throw; time it right, and the Germans won't have a chance to run. Aside from those two features, there's really not a whole lot new, other than the Gears of War-ish health system; there is no health bar, rather, when you're shot, a red haze will show up on the corners of your screen. If you're shot several times in quick succession, there's a good chance that that haze will envelop your screen, and you'll die. Hide behind cover at the first sign of the haze, however, and your health will slowly begin to rise back to full. As for the other controls, you've got the old standbys. R3 to crack your foe with the butt of your rifle or machine gun, L1 to go into Iron Sights, Circle to change weapons, X to reload, etc. Long story short, the gameplay is very good, and leaves nothing to be desired.
The third area we'll tackle is the sound, and this is where Vanguard really excels. Even on my horrible, 2-speaker, 6 year old stereo, it sounds exceptional. I can tell you that all the guns you'll acquire throughout your Campaign sound very much like their real counterparts, from the 'ping' that tells you you've emptied the clip on your Garand, to the mechanical repetition of the MG42. The explosions, the firing of German 88s and Flakvierlings, and the in game dialogue between your squad mates is all done to perfection. Trust me, the game is that much better when played loud.
So, as anyone who's bothered to read this far is probably asking themselves by now, why the 6 out of 10? Well, quite frankly, a Campaign mode this short just isn't going to cut it. I finished this game in just over 3 hours, which I shouldn't be able to do. At times, the bullet hit detection is rather strange, and your squad mates are in the way a bit too often. Also, the amount of different weapons you're able to use leaves a lot to be desired. The Americans have got the M1 Garand (which you can equip a scope to), the Thompson submachine gun(which will use a 50-round drum magazine in addition to it's usual clip), and the BAR (also known as the BAR 1918, or Browning Automatic Rifle). That's it. Where's the Carbine? Or the Greasegun? Hell, I'd even settle for the Springfield. The news doesn't get any better on the German side, either. You can pick up either an MP40, Karabiner 98, or, on the odd occasion, an STG44 from a fallen German. Where's the G43?MG34?FG42? But we're not done yet. One of the things, as I'm sure is evident now, that I enjoy in gaming is realism. I can appreciate that the PS2 has it's limits, but come on. You don't actually have clips for your guns, you just pick up random pieces of ammunition from where the real American paratroopers got their's- next to German AA guns, lying in the streets, etc.But the fun just doesn't stop. Every time you run into an enemy tank, there always just happens to be a Bazooka nearby, just waiting for you. Yes you, none of your squad mates were trained in how to use them, just you. 'Hey look, a tank! Good thing there just happens to be a bazooka already in that house over there!'. And did I mention this game is short? Forgive the rant, it's just that I wasted a lot of money on this game.
So, here's how it all breaks down;
At the end of the day, perhaps I picked the wrong Medal of Honor to try. But, in all honesty, if I ever see someone with an unopened copy of Vanguard in their hand, I'll tell them to turn around, go back wherever they got it from, and see if they can trade it in for Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood. To sum this up, Medal of Honor Vanguard is appealing to the eyes, ears, and the fingers. Just not for long enough.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 01/09/08
Game Release: Medal of Honor: Vanguard (US, 03/26/07)
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