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Medal of Honor: Heroes 2 is a game I forgot I owned. I found my PSP copy on a shelf the other day and don’t know when or where I got it. I acquired the Wii version not too long ago and that’s the version I played for this review. Developed and published by EA, Medal of Honor: Heroes 2 was released for the PlayStation Portable in November, 2007 and Wii in February, 2008. This is the second Medal of Honor game to be released for the Wii, the first being Vanguard, and the game does support online multiplayer which I didn’t get a chance to try. Exclusive to the Wii version is an Arcade mode which allows you to play through the campaign on-rails.
Unlike the first game, you do not take on the roles of previous Medal of Honor protagonists. Instead, you play as Lieutenant John Berg. John is deployed to France during the D-Day invasion to investigate German special programs. The story doesn’t really consist of anything we haven’t seen before in other Medal of Honor games or other World War II shooters for that matter. You run around shooting Germans and completing objectives. You’re briefed before each mission and these briefings contain the only significant voice acting. Other than that, you’ll hear a lot of screaming and yelling during gameplay.
You can play through the campaign in two ways. You can play the Campaign mode where you have complete control of John or you can play through it in the Arcade mode where the game controls you’re movement. In the campaign mode, you can run, crouch, aim down sights, lean left and right while aiming, and perform a melee attack. There’s three difficulty levels for both game modes and if you play on the easiest one, you can utilize a lock-on mechanic in the campaign mode. Instead of acquiring health packs, your health does regenerate over time as long as you stay out of harm’s way. In the Arcade mode, you’re provided infinite ammo, you can crouch and zoom, and you must shoot health packs to replenish health. Checkpoints are peppered throughout each mission in both modes and if you die, you’ll restart from the last checkpoint.
You have the option to use the Wii Zapper but I used the Wii Remote and Nunchuck. You need to make gestures for different things like reloading, melee attacks, zooming, and it quickly becomes tiresome. You flick the Wii Remote up to reload, flick it to throw a grenade, hold the Remote and Nunchuck a specific way to aim MG42’s, you need to hold the Wii Remote on your shoulder to use a Panzerschrek, you have to twist the Remote to plant explosives, tilt it to tune into radio frequencies, use the Nunchuck to aim a mortar, and rotate the Nunchuck to spin an artillery gun. It’s too much. I guess the developers were trying to get you into the experience with the motion controls. I get it. But after a while, I just didn’t want to use anything that required gestures. Believe it or not, the game isn’t exactly a cakewalk and god forbid you point the Remote off-screen throwing off your aim. You can easily fuck yourself and die. I find the MG42 to be the most frustrating to use. It’s a real pain in the ass.
You’ll get your hands on most of the same weapons seen in the last game and, honestly, this is a solid shooter but with serious difficulty spikes, at least on the Veteran difficulty, and I do feel the enemy AI needs some tweaking. The enemies aren’t exactly bright. They’ll often run right past you or out into the open when under fire and their behavior is very basic. In the Arcade mode, I’ve seen them refuse to pop up from cover or they’re behind objects and I can’t see or shoot them but they can shoot me. Typically, they run around, get behind cover, shoot at you, throw grenades, utilize MG42’s, some will snipe you, and others will fire rockets. However, sometimes their aim is insanely accurate and you can die pretty quickly. They’ll come shooting out of doorways and rooms, sometimes dropping you in seconds. Individually, they’re not too bad but if you’re outnumbered which happens often, you may find yourself taking damage rapidly. You really need to master the controls and aiming to be successful. If you’re struggling with the controls, there’s a good chance you will die frequently. However, the game does become infuriating at times. Even if I took my time and approached encounters with caution, it felt like I was still a bullet magnet. Some encounters are simply trial-and-error. I tried taking my time, slowing creeping around corners, leaning out of cover to pick off enemies, hoping I could progress when they’re all eliminated, only to realize they just keep coming until you push forward. At least that’s what it seems like. You can’t really stay behind cover shooting at enemies forever or you’ll run out of ammo. Enemies can drop ammo when killed but it will disappear after a short while. You need to keep moving.
Unlike the first Heroes, the maps or missions here are linear. They are not open so you’ll be completing objectives in a specific order. I found this to be disappointing since I really enjoyed the open map design in previous games. You’ll battle your way through a beach, port, city, sewers, monastery, village, and a base. Each mission has a set of primary objectives to complete along with secondary objectives which are optional. You’ll have to plant explosives, steal documents, destroy things, secure locations, navigate through minefields, and cover your allies. Friendly soldiers will accompany you here and there and they can be helpful, although they can be just as stupid as the enemies. They’ll shoot at and kill enemies but for the most part, you feel like you’re on your own which is actually the case in many missions. Many of the secondary objectives will require you to keep your eyes open for areas and rooms off to the side and it’s very possible to miss objectives on your first run through the campaign. The Arcade mode will take you exactly where you need to go but some objectives can only be completed in the Campaign mode.
The difficulty in Heroes 2 really is all over the place. And while the checkpoints are frequent, they’re usually placed before battles that can take forever. You’ll walk into rooms and activate the enemies so they come pouring out of multiple directions, making you an easy target if you’re not prepared. The Arcade mode is an easier way to get through the campaign but the sequences that force you to use motion controls are just a bitch. And many times, the game will place you right out in the open with no cover so you need to be quick with your aim. The difficulty spikes are noticeable and some areas are just bullshit. In the campaign mode, there’s one mission where you need to use an artillery gun to destroy multiple anti-aircraft guns. The moment you destroy one, enemies come pouring out from the surrounding area and can blow you away before you can even get into cover. Shit like this is just frustrating.
In the Campaign mode, you’re ranked at the end of missions based on your performance and in the Arcade mode, you’re ranked based on how many enemies you killed during the mission. Stat tracking is present and you can view your stats for the campaign mode, what your rank is, what awards you’ve earned, and percentages for weapon usage, shooting accuracy, kills per weapon, and other various stats. As you progress through the campaign mode, you’ll rank up and earn awards which are like achievements. To earn awards you’ll have to meet specific requirements like beating the campaign on a specific difficulty mode, complete a mission without dying, kill a certain number of enemies with specific weapons, and other basic stuff.
The visual presentation in Heroes 2 really shows its age. There’s not a lot of color, jaggies are noticeable, dead bodies disappear quickly, and I noticed some pop-in. However, the reload animations and particle effects look good. The audio is probably the best part of the presentation. All of the weapons sound loud and powerful which helps to make each one feel satisfying. Explosions are loud, you can hear your equipment shuffling as you move around, you can hear your weapon reloading from the Wii Remote, and you can hear the sounds of gunfire and explosions in the distance. For some reason there’s no music heard during gameplay in the Campaign mode but there is in the Arcade mode. The songs do fit the action well but I think previous games had better music overall. On the technical side, I didn’t notice any major problems but the frame rate does dip every now and again when things get hectic.
I’ll be honest, I think Heroes 2 is a decent shooter but I do think the developers should have made some more adjustments to the single player portion of the game. Sometimes I was having fun and other times I was just infuriated. I’m disappointed with the linear map design, I kind of wish a Skirmish mode was implemented similar to the one in the first game, and the motion controls become tiresome quickly. I do think Heroes 2 is an outcast in the Medal of Honor series, at least as far as the World War II entries go. It doesn’t feel like a Medal of Honor game to me. It feels like an arcade-style shooter with a World War II backdrop. But in my opinion, it just doesn’t have the same quality as the other titles. On the other hand, it’s really not a bad game. If you like rail shooters, the Arcade mode is pretty fun, and as far as being a first-person shooter on the Wii, this is a solid title. It just needs some more tweaking.
I would recommend Medal of Honor: Heroes 2 but you may want to play the PSP version if motion controls turn you off. Although, the Wii version does have more content. If you’re a fan of the previous game, Heroes 2 is going to feel very different. The maps are linear, there is no Skirmish mode, and it’s very arcade-y which I guess is what the developers were going for. Considering you can find the game for pretty cheap, there’s no reason not to check this out if you’re a fan of first-person shooters but as far as being a Medal of Honor title, there are better games in the series.