Medal of Honor: Heroes Review

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When the PSP came out, I only wanted one for Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories and Twisted Metal: Head-On. I don’t remember how I acquired my PSP but I got it before GTA came out and did acquire both games. I didn’t start building up my PSP library until years later and one of the games I got was Medal of Honor: Heroes. It may have been my first portable first-person shooter. I got it years after it came out and I worked second shift at my job at the time which meant I had a lot of downtime and Heroes was one of several games that helped pass the time. Developed by Team Fusion and published by EA Games, Medal of Honor: Heroes was released for the PSP in October, 2006. For this review, I played it on a modified PlayStation TV using a DualShock 4, otherwise known as a PlayStation 4 controller. Like many Medal of Honor games, Heroes is a World War II first-person shooter and this entry puts you in the roles of different heroes or protagonists from other Medal of Honor games.

The campaign mode takes you through three campaigns with each putting you in the role of a different protagonist. You’ll play as Sergeant John Baker, originally from Medal of Honor: Allied Assault Breakthrough and participate in Operation Avalanche. You’ll play as Lieutenant Jimmy Patterson, the protagonist from the original Medal of Honor and Frontline, and his missions are part of Operation Market Garden. Finally, you’ll play as Lieutenant William Holt, originally from Medal of Honor: European Assault, and you’ll partake in missions set during the Battle of the Bulge. The campaigns will take you to Italy, the Netherlands, and Belgium, and each one has its own set of missions. The only significant voice acting is heard during the briefings before each campaign which is accompanied by video clips from the war. Soldiers will shout shit during gameplay and you’ll often hear the same lines over and over again. My only major complaint with the campaign mode is how short it is. You can complete it in under two hours.
Heroes consists of a campaign mode, skirmish mode, and online multiplayer which I didn’t get a chance to try. Each protagonist plays exactly the same. You can walk, sprint, jump, crouch, perform a melee attack, aim down sights, and lean left and right while aiming. Sprinting drains stamina which does regenerate over time and you can kick back grenades which is nice. The controls will take some getting used to, mainly because the PSP has no second “nub”. There’s multiple control schemes to choose from and I stuck with the default which lets you move around and strafe using the PSP’s nub and look around with the action buttons. I played with a PS4 controller so the control scheme was the same but I was able to map the action buttons to the right stick. The reload, use, and crouch keys are tied to the directional pad and jump is tied to the select button on the PSP and the option button on the PS4 controller. Needless to say, the controls are a bit clunky but they work and having a second stick makes a world of difference.

One of the best things about Heroes is the open map design which is reminiscent of the map design in European Assault. Each mission allows you complete objectives in any order you wish which means you can navigate around the maps freely. Each mission contains primary and optional secondary objectives. You’ll have to steal documents, plant explosives, capture areas, assassinate specific enemies, and in many missions, you will have to complete the primary objectives within a time limit. If you die, you’ll have to restart the entire mission but most of them can be completed in under ten minutes. The only downside to the missions is that once you’ve played through the first four or five, you’ve basically seen all the variety there is. They all start to feel the same after a while. The maps are what really differentiate them. You’ll battle your way through an airfield, beach, village, city, and castle, among others and they are all open with plenty of paths and ways to approach situations.
There’s three difficulty modes to choose from and you can earn awards and medals in the campaign mode for each one. Furthermore, as you complete missions, you’ll rank up and unlock things like uniforms which can be applied to your character in the Skirmish and multiplayer modes. You’re scored at the end of each mission based on your performance which includes your kill count, accuracy, and completed objectives. You can earn a gold, silver, or bronze medal in each mission. You can also earn awards which are like achievements. You earn them by meeting specific requirements like completing a campaign on a specific difficulty mode, killing a specific number of enemies in melee combat and with specific weapon types, getting a certain number of headshots, etc. You can view any medals and awards you’ve earned from the Service Record menu which is also where you can view your stats. Your stats for each game mode are tracked and you can see everything ranging from time played to what body parts you hit the most. You can view your weapon use percentages, what your accuracy is for each weapon, how many rounds fired, and wins and losses per map, among other information. I love stat tracking in games and I found this to be quite impressive.

During each mission you’ll be accompanied by friendly soldiers. From what I understand, each protagonist is a squad leader but you don’t get to command your squad members. They follow you, attack enemies, and they’re great for diverting fire away from you. Like the enemies, if a soldier dies, another one will spawn in. I found it best to keep them close by because if they get wiped out, you become an easy target. Despite them shouting the same lines over and over again, they are good for alerting you to when enemies are near or when grenades are thrown. When you get hit, you lose health, and when you lose all your health you die. You can store medpacks in your inventory for use at any time to restore health and they can be found throughout the maps. Fallen enemies will drop weapons, ammo, and health packs which heal you instantly upon pickup. You can only carry a primary weapon, secondary weapon which is your sidearm, and grenades. Weapons can be acquired from fallen enemies and found throughout the maps. You’ll get your hands on the typical World War II weaponry we’ve seen in the other games in this series and they do feel satisfying to shoot. The enemies are the Germans and they’ll run around the maps, shoot at you, and throw grenades but their AI isn’t the best. I found that if my squad wasn’t with me, things got more difficult, especially if I was outnumbered, but the enemies don’t pose that much of a threat, individually. They’ll often run out into the open when under fire and kick grenades into walls and objects near them so they bounce back and blow themselves up. Friendlies and enemies will constantly spawn in so you can’t really clear a map of enemies. They keep spawning until you complete all the primary objectives.

I have a feeling that the multiplayer was one of the big attractions of Heroes. The servers were shut down some time ago but I’ve read of people getting matches going by other means. I didn’t get the chance to try it but I did check out the Skirmish mode which lets you play against bots. Unlike the multiplayer which includes multiple different game types, Skirmish only lets you play deathmatch. You can select from any of the maps seen in the campaign mode, you can set the time limit and how many bots up to a max of sixteen, and then you can select your uniform and primary weapon. It’s a deathmatch so you and the bots just run around and shoot each other. When you die, you need to wait for the respawn timer to reach zero before you can rejoin the match. Whoever has the most kills at the end of the match, wins, and you can set a record in each map which is determined by your kill count. Skirmish can be fun and it’s a great way to learn the maps and try out the different weapons but the match customization is very limited which is a shame and it would have been nice to see some additional game types.

Medal of Honor: Heroes is a PSP game and playing it upscaled really shows how dated the presentation is. I don’t think it looks bad for a PSP game but you will see blurry textures, jaggies, pop-in here and there, and stiff animations. The particle effects are nice, the scripted death animations can be humorous, and the environments do a good job at reflecting that war-torn Europe feel. You’ll get to listen to the game’s glorious theme song at the main menu but, unfortunately, the game lacks music during gameplay which is a shame because of the series’ reputation for fantastic music scores. You will hear a lot of gunfire and distant explosions, you can hear your equipment shuffling around as you move, and most of the weapons fire sounds pretty good. On the technical side, I only noticed the frame rate dip once during a Skirmish match and I saw some texture flickering but I didn’t encounter any major bugs or issues.

I had fun with Medal of Honor: Heroes and I think it’s a great portable first-person shooter. If you’re in it for the single player, it’s quite short, but it’s a great way to kill some time. The difficulty modes, medals, unlocks, and Skirmish mode give the single player some replay value but you’ll see almost everything the gameplay has to offer in the first five to ten minutes. It feels like a simpler or watered down version of a typical Medal of Honor experience. But it is fun to play. I really enjoy the open map design which seemed to be a series trend for a while and the variety of maps is quite good. I do think the Skirmish mode could have been better. More game types and customization options could have done the mode wonders.
I would recommend Medal of Honor: Heroes to fans of the series or first-person shooters. It’s a solid shooter for the PSP. If you can get a multiplayer match going, there’s even more content to enjoy. Heroes is a good Medal of Honor title. It may not be as good as some of the bigger ones like European Assault but if you’re looking for something to play on-the-go that lets you run around and shoot shit, Heroes should fit the bill.

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