|Medal of Honor: Vanguard (2007)
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Available for: PlayStation 2, Nintendo Wii
Some people just can’t get enough of the whole World War II era. How many games across how many platforms have been released that center around the days when Japan and Germany were our two biggest enemies? You can’t count ‘em, so don’t even bother. Needless to say, the “Medal of Honor” franchise has been around for years now and “Vanguard” marks its eighth installment. That’s right. The eighth in a continuing long line of first person shooter warfare in which it’s your job to disable any and all Nazis.
This time around, you are playing Cpl. Frank Keegan, a rifleman from the 82nd Airborne Division. A quote during one of the game’s cut scenes shows a quote from Gen. Dwight Eisenhower saying that he had no faith in the 82nd. Of course, we all know how this game is going to end. Frank and his boys are going to help pave the way for the U.S. to kick some Nazi ass, right? Of course! But at the end of the whole thing, you’ll feel like you haven’t accomplished much, as this game is so completely on the rails that 90 percent of it is a walk in the proverbial park.
Frank gets an authentic classic assortment of weapons ranging from sniper rifles to machine guns, grenades, bazookas and the like. He can even go up to the enemy troops and butt them in the head with his gun if he so desires. On the other hand, there isn’t a ton of times where you’re actually going to do this maneuver, as just firing away takes far less time and seems the most effective. And forget about those grenades. The aiming system used for them (or lack thereof) is hit and miss. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself going through your initial allotment of five and barely make a dent in any of the enemies.
As the game is on rails, that means the goofy AI is as well. Those silly Nazis, always running around in spastic clusters, popping their heads into view for the easy headshot time and time again. Many times, they’ll just fire right over you, aiming for your teammates, allowing you in for yet even more easy kills. Oh, just go right up to ‘em and shoot ‘em at close range, or just chase them around, as that’s a comical time in itself. If ever there was a fish in the barrel game, this is it. Easy kills for minimal thrills.
And that bit I mentioned about your teammates? Well, take that term lightly, please. These are the kind of teammates that will kill an enemy every now and then, but mostly depend on you to pull all the weight in the battles. Oh, they happily scream out where enemies are, but they seem much too exhausted to be bothered to squeeze their triggers and make any kind of difference. After all, we know all the great battles of WWII were pretty much fought single-handedly by faceless guys with names like Frank Keegan. Blah.
This game is so easy for the first 3 ½ parts and nine missions. Then you hit “The Crucible” and it’s suck time. The damn thing is a long, long campaign and checkpoints are few and far between. So if you plan on playing through this portion, try to do it in one sitting without getting killed, lest you just want to go insane rather quickly. First there’s a bit where you have to blow up a tank, and then clear out some tunnels filled with Nazis. Then, you meet up with your squad, but because they don’t seem to have a handle on killing snipers, it’s up to you to traverse a nasty bit of cluttered area on your belly while killing said snipers and machine gunners. After that, clear out the building beyond and then, hey it’s time to blow up a couple more tanks and some more Nazis. Things calm down suddenly, but then a GIANT SWARM of Nazis and another goddamned tank arrives, overrunning the joint and trying to take you with it. Have fun running back and forth between two bazookas that respawn ammo slowly. It takes three direct hits to blow up a tank. It takes forever to finish “The Crucible.”
It’s odd to play a game that’s so damned easy from the get-go and then be slammed with a closing act that tries to make up it in one final blast. It’s hackneyed at best, and comes off as merely frustrating, rather than challenging or fun. Still, “Medal of Honor Vanguard” is worth an afternoon’s rental, as you won’t be playing it through more than once, and it’s a really short game. There’s no online, but you can hit that shit with a buddy if you like, if you feel it really warrants it. You probably won’t. But hey, wars weren’t meant to be revisited. Somehow, no one’s ever told this to EA.