I must admit, I didn’t have high expectations for Medal of Honor Heroes 2 when I fired it up on the Wii, for a couple of reasons. One, developers have had a tough time implementing the console’s unique control scheme, resulting in some very flat first-person shooters (I’m looking at you Call of Duty 3, and especially you Far Cry Vengeance). Two, the World War II genre has been beat like a rented mule, the last Medal of Honor title on the Wii, Vanguard, was uninspiring to say the least, and it’s been a good six years since the last explosive Medal of Honor title, Allied Assault, was released. Could Medal of Honor Heroes 2 buck any of these trends?
Absolutely. Medal of Honor Heroes 2 is one of the best handling first-person shooters on the Wii. The controls are smooth and precise, qualities absent from just about every other shooter on the Wii, save for Metroid Prime 3. It’s not really rocket science either. The Wii Remote is used as a pointer to aim, while the B and A buttons are used to shoot and aim down the sights respectively. The control pad toggles your stance up and down, and selects weapons left and right. The Wii Remote is also used to look up, down, left and right, by aiming it away from the center of the screen. Meanwhile, the Nunchuk controls movement forward and back, and strafing left and right.
There are plenty of gesture controls in the game as well. Tilt the Nunchuk left or right and your character will lean that way. Flick the Wii Remote forward to reload your weapon and flick both the Wii Remote and Nunchuk forward for a melee attack. If you’re using the shotgun, flicking the Nunchuk forward will pump the shotgun after each round. Gesture controls are also used effectively to fire bazookas, man artillery guns, aim and fire mortars, and throw grenades. Gesture controls are also used for non-combat oriented actions. For instance, as you progress through each mission you’ll come across radios that you’ll have to tune and lock onto friendly frequencies – by rotating the Wii Remote clockwise or counterclockwise – in order to obtain new objectives and gain knowledge of enemy presence in the area. You’ll also use the Wii Remote to detect mines by waving it along the ground. All in all, the controls work brilliantly. The only thing I’d add is a button that re-centers your sights. On a couple of occasions when flicking the Wii Remote forward or upward, my character wound up looking way off in a direction that I couldn’t quite re-adjust before getting killed. A button like that would come in real handy.
Splendid controls aside, Medal of Honor Heroes 2 is a fairly generic WWII shooter. It doesn’t attempt to evolve the genre in any sort of way and ultimately, a pair of issues mire what could have been a really nice, fast-paced shooter. The first of those problems is the AI, which is not only heavily scripted and static, but downright laughable in some instances. Friendly AI is particularly dreadful. Soldiers accompanying you on the battlefield are totally inept. I’m fairly certain I killed 99% of the Nazis when I played through the single player campaign. Enemy AI isn’t much better. Their actions are heavily scripted. If two Nazi soldiers run out of a storefront and take cover behind a car, that’s exactly what they’ll do again if you replay the level a second time. Not only are the enemies actions scripted, they’re also static. If the two Nazi soldiers take cover behind that car, they’ll stay there until they kill or get killed. Not that they have much choice in the matter. The levels are extremely linear so there’s little room for dynamic military intelligence, such as flanking. The AI is at its worst when friendly and enemy soldiers engage in combat. I wish I had video evidence showing the numerous times when a friendly and enemy soldier stood not six feet from one another, with no cover between them, emptying round after round and missing with every shot. In previous first-person shooters on the Wii, such as Call of Duty 3 and Far Cry Vengeance, the enemy AI was clearly dumb down to make up for the sluggish controls. That shouldn’t be the case with Medal of Honor 2. The controls work extremely well so there’s no excuse for presenting such terrible AI.
You might be wondering, if the AI in Medal of Honor Heroes 2 is such an issue, how is the game challenging? The answer is in the sheer number of enemies, which brings us to the second of those issues I mentioned earlier: respawning enemies. Again, if those two Nazi soldiers run out of the storehouse and you manage to kill them, you can expect two more Nazi soldiers to follow shortly thereafter. Kill those two and another pair won’t be far behind. Enemy soldiers tend to spawn and respawn three or four times before you can safely advance. Enemies will spawn in front of you, behind you, even right beside you if you get lucky or unlucky enough. It’s never a positive aspect for a game when enemies materialize right in front of your eyes. At least the respawns are limited, though that doesn’t make me hate the idea any less. There must be better ways to make a game challenging.
The single player campaign consists of eight missions that will take approximately six hours to complete. There’s also an Arcade mode that turns the entire single player campaign into a light gun shooter, where all you have to do is aim and shoot, and not worry about player movement, which makes it ideal for newcomers to the FPS genre. It’s also the perfect opportunity for owners to pull out their Wii Zapper or Nyko Perfect Shot.
Medal of Honor Heroes 2 also supports multiplayer for up to an amazing 32 players. The longevity of the multiplayer experience is a bit of an issue, what with only three game modes; Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Infiltration (Capture the Flag); maps based on levels from the single player campaign that are a little too small for the number of potential players, and a lack of support for voice communication that lends to free-for-all matches with little to no teamwork. There are also minor issues with the respawn system and weapon balance. Nevertheless, I’m glad to see a developer create a decent online component for a Wii title, especially a first-person shooter. It’s a step in the right direction.
If controls weren’t such an issue for first-person shooters on the Wii, Medal of Honor Heroes 2 would be a very mediocre experience, but it remains a considerable issue and so the fact the game handles so well elevates it in spite of its shortcomings. I mildly recommend it to fans of the genre but I highly recommend it to any developers out there working on, or even thinking of working on a first-person shooter for the Wii. Learn from it, heck, copy the control system if you must, and let’s start to create some truly fun and unique first-person shooters for the console, yes?