Medal of Honor Vanguard marks the series' debut on the Wii. There hasn't been a console version of Medal of Honor since Medal of Honor European Assault, which was an impressive game after the abysmal Medal of Honor Rising Sun. Timed to be out before Medal of Honor Airborne and just a few months after the Wii has launched is Vanguard a solid World War II shooter or is Call of Duty 3 a better choice for FPS junkies?
In Medal of Honor Vanguard you'll assume the role of Corporal Frank Keegan, a member of the 82nd Airborne division. The game begins with a black and white cutscene. After the cutscene Keegan provides narration, which tells a story you'll likely zone out on after a few moments. After you've listened to the narration you'll take control of Keegan as he tries to open his parachute to get down to the battlefield. At this point you can have the game run through the parachuting controls or you can skip them. you'll need to use the Wii remote to glide your Keegan down onto the battlefield. The parachute gliding is clever, but merely a novelty. All in all, the story mode features four campaigns, which are each divided up into a few missions each, you'll fight through several locations in Europe.
When you hit the ground it's easy to tell Vanguard isn't all that different from its predecessors. It seems EA were a little reluctant to try anything new with Vanguard and there isn't much in the game that you haven't seen before. Much like every World War II shooter you'll need to hide behind buildings, take out Nazis and move onto the next area to do the same thing all over again. There is no real innovation and Vanguard feels more like a compilation of the past few Medal of Honor games than anything else. This means that the problems from the previous Medal of Honor titles carry through to Vanguard.
Even though it's nearly been two years since Medal of Honor European Assault the enemy AI in the game hasn't improved at all. Your enemies still act as ridiculous as ever, they'll pop their heads around the corner in plain sight, disappear for a few moments then pop their heads back out again. At times the enemies will even walk through the walls, which makes the game feel a little unfinished. Your allies are no better either, consistently missing targets and seemingly doing nothing at all. The AI seems too unrealistic, which quickly becomes frustrating.
For some reason you'll often shoot enemies and they'll take quite a few shots before they will die, it often feels like you're not even hitting enemies at all. Grenades in particular don't have the effect they normally do in WWII games, often you'll throw a grenade at an enemy, the grenade will explode right near them and they'll still be alive ready to disappear for a few more moments again.
With Vanguard, EA have reworked the controls a little so the game fits onto the Wii suitably. The game uses both the Wii remote and the nunchuck, the nunchuck is used for movement whereas the Wii remote is used for aiming. The basic controls work well, with the Wii remote making it easy to peg out specific soldiers, it's when you try to do some of the more complicated moves that things become a little more difficult. Melee moves are also executed with the Wii remote, as are sprinting moves. Trying to sprint whilst keeping your aim and moving your soldier with the nunchuck becomes a complicated process. The nunchuck however, isn't just used for moving your soldier, by moving the nunchuck left you'll execute a turn, by moving it right you'll reload and by moving it down you'll crouch. This means you'll need to have a very steady hand whilst you're engaged in battle, as you end up executing a crouch at the most inappropriate time. There are a few different control options in the menu, but none of them are particularly intuitive.
The levels in the game are relatively well sized but Vanguard doesn't appear to be pushing the Wii to its limits. The game has a consistent frame rate that only slows down when things become intense. The game is very dark and dismal and can be played in widescreen on the Wii. The game isn't an entirely linear experience with a few levels letting you choose different ways to progress.
Like with most Medal of Honor titles Vanguard's soundtrack is incredible. The large epic themes really help to immerse you in the battlefield. The weapons all some fantastic and whilst the voice acting isn't great, it's not terrible either.
Aside from the story mode there is also a split screen multiplayer option for up to four players. There is a wide variety of multiplayer modes as well. Unfortunately the game doesn't include co-op support, which is a little bit disappointing. The main campaign will last under ten hours as well, the game does award medals based on your performance in the levels, but there is little reason to improve.
Medal of Honor Vanguard feels like a game that was developed in just a few months. It's hard to accept Vanguard as anything but a quick cash in simply because Medal of Honor Airborne will be out by the end of the year and looks to be a far superior game. Even if you don't have an Xbox 360 or a PlayStation 3 there are already superior first person shooters on the Wii. By not improving the AI and providing a story mode with the same generic objectives we've seen before Vanguard is hard to recommend to anyone but the most diehard Medal of Honor fan.