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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Game Review: Medal of Honor Heroes 2

A worthy receiver of the Medal of Nonsense.



The Good:
Great presentation * A graphical accomplishment * Immersive aural experience

The Bad:
Missions are very linear and lack diversity * Laughable, if not non-existent, A.I. * Hopelessly poor save mechanism * Disappointing online 32-player multiplayer

Medal of Honor Heroes 2 is a game that could either turn out really good or really bad for the PSP. A game ported over from the Wii, Medal of Honor Heroes 2 could very well be a rushed port should the developers decide to just cash in on the game instead of tweaking and polishing it for the PSP, but fortunately, that isn’t the case. What you have here is the full Wii game minus the on-rails arcade mode in your hands – with the gorgeous cut scenes, voice-overs and online 32-player multiplayer support intact. That being said, the flaws present in the Wii game also gets ported over and during the process of porting the game over, the developers somehow managed to make some components of the game worse. The end result is a game that is graphically and aurally pleasing, but also one that frustrates its players with brainless A.I. mates and enemies and an inexcusably poor save mechanism to the point where you would be inclined to put the game down before it’s even finished.

Medal of Honor Heroes 2 deserves a mention for its presentation. As mentioned, the gorgeous cut scenes and voice-overs from the Wii version are all here, so what you are getting is a portable experience that is on par with that of the home console. Graphically, the game isn’t as pretty looking as the Wii version, but that’s an issue that lies solely on the technical side of things. That isn’t to say that this game isn’t a visual accomplishment – because it is. For most parts, Medal of Honor Heroes 2 fares considerably well save for some muddled textures which aren’t that tangible. Unlike the previous Medal of Honor console outing, Medal of Honor Airborne, this game does provide an immersive aural experience – there is a distinctive feel of pandemonium as gunshots and shouts sound through the environments and a very appropriate war theme to serve as an accompaniment to that feel. In this aspect, Medal of Honor Heroes 2 is a really great game – a console experience so masterfully fitted down for the PSP, but from here onwards, there is absolutely nothing that is worth your attention.

The 7 missions certainly aren’t anything noteworthy. All in all, the entire single-player campaign would last you approximately 6 hours, which I think is still respectable given that this is a portable shooter. Perhaps more worrying are the very linear levels that not only feel small, but also lack diversity. This game suffers from the same problem as Ninja Gaiden 2: the environments are huge, but when you actually start exploring, you realize that’s it’s less than meets the eyes, with the only difference being the usage of barriers like locked doors, rubble and fences (nope, you can’t jump in this game) instead of the irksome invisible walls as ways to shove you from area to area. This already-glaring flaw is made more palpable by the game’s lack of diversity. Sure, there are the .50 calibre machine gun turrets to man and artillery shells to fire from time to time, but those are merely elements to disguise the shallow run-and-gun formula.

For such a weak single-player campaign, I was hoping that the A.I. would offer some compensation, but there was none in store. The A.I. isn’t merely bad – it is non-existent. You are shooting shadows and hollow statues – there isn’t really anything that the A.I. has to offer that would have you believe that you are actually fighting against enemy infantry. Almost always in the game, enemy soldiers would run to their pre-programmed positions, never once moving away from them until death – not even a grenade could move them, not even a change in my position could move them. That’s right, throwing a grenade at your enemies in this game is a sure-kill because they won’t run away from it! You can count yourself lucky if you see the enemy A.I. moving around, but then you notice they are running circles in (again!) a pre-programmed route, so you could just anticipate them by aiming your weapon at the turning point of the route.

Let’s discuss scenario 2: I was taking cover behind some barrels and the enemy A.I. was firing at me. I then decided to move to another cover so that I can have a better aim. A few seconds later, I was behind my new cover. And what astonishment! The enemy A.I. continued shooting at my previous position. And as I moved out from behind my cover to aim at him, he seemed to be oblivious to it. And there’s scenario 3: I was far away from the enemy A.I. I saw him and he saw me. I had a very clear shot at him, and so did he. He stood still and did not shoot. I tried another technique. I moved closer – and he finally shot, but when I moved very close to him, he ceased shooting. You see, the A.I. has been programmed to open fire on enemies only when they are [insert number here] meters to [insert number here] meters away from him; he won’t open fire on targets any further or any nearer to him. This is the MOST laughable A.I. I have EVER experienced. Don’t count on your teammates to tide you over enemy fire too because they are just as crappy. However, the developers have a way of working around this flaw, but they have done in a way so unfair that it frustrates you. You know what to expect if you have experienced endless enemy spawns before.

Needless to say, endless enemy spawns can sometimes make for cheap deaths. As if wanting to make them cheaper, the developers have (deliberately) implemented a VERY VERY poor save mechanism that only a person who have gone to an anger management class can survive. Let’s just say it has been 30 minutes since your last checkpoint and suddenly, the game ramps up the number of enemies unpredictably and adds in an almost endless stream of respawns and succeeds in killing you. Oh great, now you’d have to restart at the point from 30 minutes ago. And what better word to describe this design choice than retarded? Perhaps the developers were smoking weed or drunk when they were deciding on this aspect of the game – they seemed to have forgotten that this is a portable shooter! Be warned: the possibility of making absolutely no progress in the game despite your 30 minutes playtime in the bus is VERY real. That isn’t the worst thing going for this game’s save mechanism, though. During my time with this game, I also discovered that this game doesn’t save at checkpoints at times. In one instance, I arrived at a checkpoint and quitted the game as my train ride was coming to an end, but when I booted it up again, I needed to restart the entire mission! In another instance, the game booted up to exactly the point I was at the last time. This could very well be the one flaw that could make you put the game down before it’s completed.

And I thought the online 32-player multiplayer could save this game. With 6 maps spread over 3 standard modes (deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture the flag), the offering is a little on the reduced side. While the EA servers handled the games very well such that they are all lag-free and the option in jump in and out of any game is available, there were SEVERAL instances of people hacking the game in my test runs (4 nights of multiplayer matches, each lasting 3 hours) and having the ability to run at an incredible speed, as well as the ability to fire unlimited number of rockets without reloading (OMG!). The other thing about multiplayer is that it feels more about luck than skill – no thanks to the PSP lack of a second analogue stick. The default set-up uses the face buttons for aiming and it feels really clumsy, with subtle movements made impossible. Wherefore, multiplayer is less about landing that headshot or precise shot, and more about hurling grenades and firing rockets and keeping your fingers crossed that your opponents happen to be in the blast radius.

Final Comments
Great presentation here, but beyond that, everything is nonsense. The missions are linear and they lack diversity. That isn’t compensated by the non-existent A.I., and even if it’s existent, its intelligence would only match that of a blindfolded ape firing a rifle backwards. Its hopelessly poor (and seriously retarded) save mechanism and multiplayer glitches have this game deserving the ultimate Medal of Nonsense. Hop in if you are a Medal of Honor fan or are really desperate for some FPS action on your PSP; otherwise, give this game a pass – you aren’t missing anything.


Blogger Jeffrey Austin said...

How does this compare to Call of Duty?

Jeffrey White
Founder of Flash Card Maker Pro
Android App Developer
Flashcard Enthusiast

8:08 AM


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