Medal of Honour: Vanguard PS2 Review

Medal of Honour games have taken a real fall from grace since their initial glory with the first title in the series which by all accounts was probably one of the finest World War shooters of its time, but strangely the decrease in quality seen in many of the abysmal offerings churned out for the PS2 is one that hasn’t been backed up by the sales figures… Admittedly it pains me to say it, but although I’d happily bet all I own that this game will be met by a ambivalence at best by anyone who’s played a first-person shooter in the past 5 years, I’d also put the same bet down that thousands of people will already have bought it, completed it, and be debating how well it stands in comparison to the seminal classic MoH: Rising Sun with their stupid friends. Now chances are by now there’ll be a few people thinking: “Crikey, that’s a bit harsh…” – but is it? Now let’s get things straight here as I put my cards on the table; this isn’t intended as some sort of jab at EA’s reputation for cashing in on franchises, indeed from a personal perspective I think EA in general have really been shaping up over the past few years and becoming a highly respectable company in terms of quality and polish. But with Medal of Honour- I’ve got some serious beef.

Alright, earlier I used a bad word and I’m sorry about that, but now I’m going to justify it; the success of Medal of Honour games over the past 5 years is the result of a simple cocktail, you too can enjoy this simple recipe: 2 parts ignorance, 2 parts marketing, shake vigorously and carefully sift off any discernible sense of taste, serve. Again, harsh? Not at all – I can happily say that anyone who finds this game to be well made or enjoyable simply hasn’t played or heard of Battlefield 1942, Call of Duty, or any other historical shooters for that matter, because when you boil down to it Vanguard is a game that seems like an epic step backwards, compare it to almost any major title in the same vein released in the past few years and it’s going to be the one that no-one wants to talk to and gets chosen last for the team, while all the kids point and laugh. Of course unlike its playground counterpart, bullying a computer game is fine, because it really is their fault that it’s so damn ugly. And let me assure you, they know it’s ugly – like Quasimodo dragging a lady back to his flat for a nightcap they’ve been very cautious to keep the lights dimmed so you don’t power up your PS2 and realize you’ve just gone home with an absolute munter. The game is dark, ashamed of its second-rate textures and jagged edges; navigating your way through the levels is like walking through muddy soup, interspersed with identical buildings to work your way through as your hamfisted squadron do everything they can to be a complete pain in the neck.

This is the most unforgivable thing about Vanguard: the idiotic team of men who bumble around making your life difficult at every opportunity, who within minutes of playing I was trying to assassinate just so I could get on with the game in peace. But of course, your bullets can’t hurt them- which would usually be a godsend, but considering they seem unable to actually hit any enemies with their gunfire and seem intent on hogging ALL of the cover the game expects you to use, they’re nothing less than a nightmare; rather than focusing on taking out the enemies up ahead I spent most of my time trying to find a spot to shoot from that wasn’t about to be taken by one of my team. I’m sure when they planned the movement patterns of the troops it looked lovely on paper, but after you settle yourself in a good sniping position only to find an AI soldier running over and taking a spot you already had covered it’s just f***ing irritating.

As I said it’s a very dark game, and unfortunately this just puts a spotlight on some of the horrendous lighting problems within the game. None of the environments feel real due to simple mistakes like inconsistent sunlight or machine gun flares that often produce perfect squares of light on walls nearby, explosions and gunfire often visible through walls – a regular glitch which they obviously assumed wouldn’t be too much of an issue. Of course as with other MoH games you can switch between standing, kneeling and crawling, the last of which you’ll rarely see the point in; crawling through tall grass does nothing more than offend your eyes with pixelated monstrosities while the enemy continue to shoot at you flawlessly which makes it seem pretty damn superfluous to say the very least. Even when you get to the stage where any FPS should start being fun, the game practically becomes a parody, having you gun down lines of respawning enemies with mounted machine guns that feels like the Rambo scene out of Hot Shots part Deux, other sections involving rocket launchers to destroy tanks feel like fairground game, always keeping you very conscious that the area with tanks in that you’re firing towards isn’t actually a cohesive part of the game, but a WWII themed shooting gallery. To be honest I wouldn’t have put it past them to include a hook-a-duck section…

There’s too many gripes to list really, other notable problems being laziness with texture clipping which results in you wasting bullets attempting to fire past objects only to find the transparent section a foot beneath the lamp graphic is actually still classed as being a solid object, laughably lacklustre explosions and lifeless AI to name but a few. Essentially it’s just no fun to play, and nothing about this game ever peaks above being average – something which is unacceptable considering the calibre of some of the other titles currently on the market.

In summary, this is all you really need to know about Vanguard: It’s awful.
It’s a tired formula badly executed that lacks everything needed to make a good WWII shooter; You’ll hate your comrades, you’ll laugh at the lazy graphics, and all the way through you’ll be too absorbed by the inconsistencies dotted throughout to ever get drawn into the game, leaving it a lifeless and dull experience. There are better games available to spend your hard earned cash on, and there are better alternatives for getting your WWII fix – or in other words; if you buy this game you’re a bit stupid, but if you enjoy it then it’s about time you learned a thing or two about games.

Somebody keeps buying them. WHY DO THEY KEEP BUYING THEM?

5.0 out of 10
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