Medal of Honor: Heroes 2 is exactly what the video game industry needs: another first-person shooter set in World War II. All sarcasm aside, the latest instalment in EA’s ever branching series has a few tricks up its sleeve that manage to keep it from becoming another boring game in what has arguably become a saturated sub-genre.
These tricks certainly don’t appear in the story; it’s another masturbatory tale of how awesome the Americans were and how evil Hitler and the Nazis were. Spanning eight missions, it’s a predictable tale about a top-secret mission to stop Hitler from unleashing his big secret weapon, the V2 rocket.
At best, it serves merely as a catalyst for moving the action along. Those used to the cinematic styling of games like Halo or even Red Steel will be disappointed by the way the story is presented – the pre-mission briefings bring back memories of Goldeneye – but then that’s almost missing the point.
The beauty of Medal of Honor: Heroes 2, and what sets it apart from the rest of the pack, is how it offers itself as a simple, arcade take on a formula worn so thin that it can call Nicole Ritchie fat. The game offers two modes, Arcade and Campaign, and these can be switched on the fly.
Campaign offers a standard first-person shooter experience, but the action is definitely faster than most first person shooters. Campaign still demands players to strafe, shoot, and hide behind cover as expected, but everything feels a little more frantic.
Arcade mode offers an on-rails experience, which makes the game play almost like Time Crisis. Movement is controlled automatically by the game, and players are merely required to focus on aiming and shooting. It’s definitely fun, but considering that once you start doing well the game encourages you to try the more traditional campaign, it’s pretty clear that this mode is to encourage the Wii’s blue ocean demographic to dive into the genre.
As a Wii game, Medal of Honor: Heroes 2 takes full advantage of the Wii Remote and Wii Zapper. The Wii Remote scheme offers free-look similar to that found in Metroid Prime 3, and to be honest it works a little better than what was found in that game. Also like Metroid, there’s an option to lock on to enemies if players so desire.
Along with aiming and moving, the motion controls are also used well for actions such as lobbing grenades or reloading weapons. The Wii Remote is also used for such tasks as tuning radios, which keeps the game interesting. The Wii Zapper scheme works in both Arcade and Campaign modes, but because of the way the Zapper holds the Wii Remote and Nunchuk together, its best left for the Arcade mode.
Not everything about Medal of Honor: Heroes 2 is good, though. Far beyond the usual Wii-inherited problems such as dull, blurry graphics are the issues with pacing and AI. While Call of Duty 4 was also guilty of spawning soldiers, in Heroes 2 they will often appear out of thin air right in the field of view. It’s as if no effort has been expended to keep this spawning secret.
The AI is also ridiculously retarded. Allies are about as useful as a three-wheeled shopping trolley as they constantly rush into battle, and the enemy AI always attacks you anyway as if you have a big sticker on your head that says “Shoot me and the war is over!” At times enemies will even attack you despite the fact that an ally is crouched right beside them – but what is worse is that the ally isn’t even shooting the enemy right beside him.
The infuriating AI can quite often make the game seem unbalanced and unfair, especially when combined with the zoom function. With an arcade pace, it would be expected that realism was a concern that takes a backseat, but it still appears that zooming still requires you to look through a tiny, realistic sight on a weapon. Given that the graphics are a bit blurry and, more than likely, running at 480i, zooming becomes practically useless. Given the pacing of the game, at times the aiming and AI makes it a challenge not to simply run through the battlefield as some kind of 1950’s Achilles – only certain death will hold you back.
Additionally, another upsetting part of Heroes 2 is that the 32-player online mode has been removed from the New Zealand release. Considering that it would have offered the most comprehensive online for any Wii game to date, even going so far as to remove Nintendo's coddling friend codes, it's disappointing to see that this feature was removed.
Ultimately, however, Medal of Honor: Heroes 2 is a solid game that achieves most of what it sets out to do: provide a compelling first-person shooter set in World War II. Given the Wii’s sparse line-up that tends to focus on mini-game compilations, Heroes 2 already stands out from the crowd, but with its accessible Arcade mode and its impressive control scheme, Heroes 2 offers an experience that is rare on Nintendo’s console. Those that only own a Wii and are itching for a solid first-person shooter should definitely check out Medal of Honor: Heroes 2.