|System: Wii, PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: EA||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: EA||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 13, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-32 (online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Matt Cabral
Between winning WWII more times than we can remember in countless first-person shooters and struggling with wonky Wii controls since the system's launch (we still hold a grudge, Red Steel), we fully expected Electronic Art's Medal of Honor Heroes 2 to be about as appealing as hardtack.
So what a pleasant surprise it was to discover solid controls and a gameplay experience that had us happily lacing up our combat boots again. Despite our gung ho rush to the front line, Heroes does have some shortcomings, and if you've played the likes of Call of Duty 4, you'll need to adjust your expectations appropriately. However, foxhole fanboys as well as Wii owners, tired of all the mini-game madness, could do worse than enlisting for this fast-paced, action-packed WWII shooter.
Heroes jumps the Wii's biggest hurdle by offering motion-sensing controls that yield a responsive and fun experience. They're intuitive, much like in Metroid Prime 3, rather than maddening, as they've been in so many Wii-mote-waving titles. The cursor mostly goes where you point it, and picking off enemies with a squeeze of the controller's trigger is a hoot. Pressing the "A" button, for a more focused shot, is an easy transition that'll have you precisely popping helmets off German soldiers. Arming an arsenal of pistols, rifles, and automatic weapons employs this simple point-and-shoot method, but equipping some of the game's other room-clearing devices offers even more interesting Wii-mote waggling. Fire the rocket launcher by resting it on your shoulder and pressing the "B" trigger, toss a grenade with an under or over-throw motion, and adjust your sniper rifle scope by dialing the remote left or right. It's all a great deal of fun, genuinely adding to the experience and never feeling like a tacked-on novelty. The motion magic extends to other activities as well; set the clock on an explosive charge by using the same motion you'd use to set your stove-top timer, and gently tilt the controller to-and-fro to adjust radio dials as you attempt to receive a transmission.
Fighting through WWII with motion controls is mostly a genre-evolving experience (and no genre needs it more than this one), but there are still moments when you'll yearn for a traditional gamepad. Performing the various hand gymnastics required to use Heroes' guns and grenades is a blast when you've got plenty of ammo and are hunkered behind cover. But in the games' more frantic firefights, when ammo and cover are scarce, it becomes a bit befuddling to switch from the point-and-shoot pistol to the shoulder-resting rocket launcher and so on. Combine this with the sniper scope-lock and other movements mapped to the Nunchuk and you might end up with a fumbling foot soldier in the heat of battle. All this gets easier with practice, and the added motion-fueled immersion certainly trumps the occasional frustration factor; it's hard to argue with the satisfaction that washes over you every time a well-tossed grenade results in Axis soldiers flying like confetti.
Heroes' visual presentation and linear level design don't quite live up to its inventive control scheme. The missions are littered with "conveniently" placed blockades--barbed wire, barrels, crates--ensuring you never stray far from the front-line focus. And the graphics, while not bad, heavily rely on the usual WWII color palette--brown, green, and gray. Additionally, the Wii's limited horsepower allows this drabness to stick out with un-refined textures and detail-starved levels. Animations also suffer a bit as enemies occasionally move erratically and vanish before their death animation sees them to the floor. As with many Wii games, these faults are par for the course, and if you're a Wii owner, you've likely accepted the hardware's limitations already; we don't play the Wii hoping for jaw-dropping visuals, but because it allows us to swing swords and fire guns in a way traditional gamepads don't.