Ever since the Wii came out, people have been predicting that the controller would be great for shooting games. After all, it’s motion-sensitive, the system can tell where you’re pointing it, and there’s even a trigger on the bottom. What could be more natural? So if there was ever a genre that should take well to the Wii way of doing things, it’s first-person shooters. Of course, the first shooter to come down the assembly line was “Red Steel,” and that left something to be desired — the controls were so loose that you spent most of the game weaving drunkenly back and forth, when all you wanted to do was stand still and shoot. Now several months have passed. Would “Medal of Honor: Vanguard” do a better job with the Wii shooter formula?
Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past several years and this is the first WWII game you picked up, nothing about “Vanguard” will surprise you. You play a fairly random soldier who’s dropped into the European theater (in this case, by “dropped” I mean it literally: you’re a paratrooper, and the first mission involves jumping out of a plane into an Italian village). You’ll find yourself surrounded by allies and enemies, and will have to kill lots of Nazis and Italian fascists before you’re done. From the general look of the game, to the brief in-game cutscenes, to the voice work, to all the other details of the game, “Vanguard” could not be more typical of the genre, and if you like that sort of game, you’ll probably like this one as well. But the devil’s in the details. How well do the controls work out?
Actually, not half bad. I did have a few bouts of drunkeness, especially when I was first starting out. For the most part I think this was due to me moving the controller too fast or too far, but sometimes the system seemed to lose track of me. I found that I needed to fine-tune the sensor placement, and be very careful about where and how I was sitting before the controls seemed solid enough to play for long. Beyond that, though, things worked well. I found it easy and intuitive to aim the guns, and throwing grenades with the nunchuk also worked well. Not so smooth was the reload motion (a quick flick of the Wiimote, which the system usually misinterpreted as a turn to the left). Most perplexing were the commands for going prone and getting back up on my feet. I found it easy to get down, but getting back up again was a bitch: it’s supposed to work so that you flick the controller and Wiimote upwards, but I found that it didn’t work if either of my wrists was turned slightly in either direction and I had to try several times before I could get the orientation just right and climb back on my feet.
Once you have the mechanics down, this is a fun little game. The AI worked well enough, which meant that I could follow my comrades if I wasn’t sure which way to go (a fairly common occurrence in the almost too dark environments), while enemies weren’t too bad about jumping out from behind cover so as to make my job of shooting them easier. On one level I found myself effortlessly targeted by enemies who shouldn’t have been able to see me, given that I was hiding in thick grass, but otherwise there weren’t too many things that took me out of the experience. If I had one complaint to make about level design, it would be that the levels were too tightly integrated with certain events: if you kill everyone in the tank, I believe you should be able to advance to the next part of the level even if you didn’t damage the tank itself enough for the game to count it as destroyed. But that’s just me.
Bottom line: if you’ve got a Wii and you like World War II shooters, this is a good purchase for you. The graphics are pretty good for the Wii, the voice acting is good, and the controls are solid enough that you’ll enjoy yourself (though your fascist enemies probably won’t have such a good time).
>> Ratings (1-10) :
- Graphics: 7. Some of the interiors were too dark, but otherwise this looked pretty good for a Wii game.
- Sound: 8. Tight and professional voice work and weapons animations.
- Gameplay: 7. Find the Nazis, find cover, shoot the Nazis from behind the cover.
- Story: 7. Boy meets fascists. Boy kills fascists, except when fascists kill boy.
- Replayability: 6. Not many alternate objectives or routes in this one; without online multiplayer mode, a single time through is probably all you’ll want.
- Overall: 7.5. “Medal of Honor: Vanguard” brings the WWII shooter genre to the Wii, and does a pretty decent job of it