Review: Medal of Honor – Vanguard (Playstation 2)

In this review, we earn our medals in the Playstation 2 game Medal of Honor – Vanguard. We find out how well this FPS game plays.

This game was released in 2007. It is yet another instalment in this relatively long series.

We are quite familiar with this series at this point in time. We started the series with the original Medal of Honor game. That game wound up getting a rather mediocre score. From there, we tried Medal of Honor: Underground. That game got an identical mediocre score. Undeterred, we tried Medal of Honor: Frontline. That game got a reasonable score.

We then tried Medal of Honor – Allied Assault, the first PC game. That game also got a pretty reasonable score. From there, we tried the expansion of that game, Medal of Honor – Allied Assault: Spearhead. That expansion got a pretty respectable score as well. After that, we tried the other expansion, Medal of Honor – Allied Assault: Breakthrough. That expansion got a pretty reasonable score as well.

Finally, we hopped back on over to the Playstation 2 to try the game Medal of Honor: Rising Sun. That game wound up getting a pretty mediocre score. So, we decided to try another game in this series to see how well it does.

In this game, you play as Frank Keegan, a member of the 82nd Airborne Division. You parachute down into Europe at the beginning of World War II to take on the Axis in Europe. Your team of soldiers must complete various objectives to take down the nazi’s.

Throughout the game, you have a small array of weapons. This includes a rifle, semi-automatic rifle, and bazooka. You can only carry two weapons at a time, but do keep in mind that some missions have you start out with a single weapon. You also start off with a limited amount of ammunition, however, you can pick up ammo from fallen enemies.

Along the way, you can pick up small upgrades to your weapon. I was only able to locate two throughout the game, but these upgrades either add a scope to your rifle or give you some added magazine capacity for your automatic rifle. The upgrades are permanent, but there is no need to really hesitate on getting them either. Both upgrades have no real appreciable downside.

Additionally, you have grenades that you can use at any time. You can carry a maximum of 5 grenades at a time. Still, they are useful in clearing out areas where enemies are tightly packed together. Like ammunition, you can occasionally pick up a grenade along the way to refuel your supply.

On occasion, you’ll stumble across a gun turret. These turrets are fixed. Still, the bonus of these weapons is the fact that they carry unlimited ammo. The only thing to worry about is overheating it, so short bursts is generally advisable.

There is no real health system, so the picking up of bread, health canteens, or health boxes is completely stripped out. Instead, this game basically copies the system found in Call of Duty 2: Big Red One where you just need to avoid getting hit multiple times in short succession. If you get hit several times, you’ll see red creeping into your field of view. Keep getting hit and you’ll die.

What you do have is a special item. This item is the explosive. You’ll find your target (typically a door, but also often an AA gun), hold down the cross button to set your explosive, then run away before the timer expires. It is often a good idea to clear out the enemies in the area before you set it because it takes a moment to set the charge.

The only other thing you’ll really find yourself doing that is of any significant note is use a parachute. All you do is use your movement buttons to guide yourself down to the ground. There are locations you can pick and aim for that will give you a good start. An example is inside a small tower right behind an enemy machine gun nest. So, choose a good location with reasonable cover on the way down as best you can. You only have a limited amount of time to make your decision before locations start becoming unreachable. Not much of an exciting element, but it is there.

One thing I’ve noticed people complain about this game is the fact that it is short. I’m personally inclined to agree with this criticism. You could spend a day and a half on this game and complete it from beginning to end without too much hassle (depends on the difficulty setting you set of course). In all, there is about 10 missions, but they don’t really take too long to complete despite the seemingly long list of objectives you need to complete.

What annoys me personally is that this game had a huge opportunity to distinguish itself from other WWII themed FPS games by, really, sticking to its roots and retaining that health system. No real innovation was necessary and it could at least stand out. Instead, this game basically tries desperately to copy the Call of Duty formula. As a result, if I saw just regular footage of this game mixed in with Call of Duty footage, I wouldn’t have noticed that this is from a different series. There is almost nothing that makes this game unique compared to Call of Duty. As such, I am left wondering why this game was even made in the first place.

Generally speaking, because this game basically copies everything Call of Duty is doing, this game makes this franchise look like a Call of Duty knock off. That, of course, is a bit strange because this game series started before Call of Duty. Combined with the fact that this game is so short on top of it all, it comes off as a rather cheap game. With no real innovations that is on offer for this game, I’m only left to shrug and say this game is also very forgettable. Really, this game is only for the hardcore WWII themed FPS fans. Otherwise, this game offers very little, if anything, for players new to the series.

The graphics are reasonable enough. With Playstation 3 games already on the market, this game does need to do a decidedly good job on this front to keep itself relevant. I’m not convinced it does so. The models and scenery are reasonable enough. The animations are OK. Unfortunately, I just don’t see anything here that gets me excited for this game – especially since the game is so short in the first place.

The audio is also a mixed bag. The voice acting and sound effects are reasonable enough. Unfortunately, the music is a bit of a let down. The best music in the game is actually tracks that played in Medal of Honor – Allied Assault. What new tracks are on offer is largely forgettable.

Overall, this game is a huge disappointment. While this series has never achieved absolute greatness, there is still some very worthwhile games to play in this series. This, sadly, is not one of those games. It copies as much as possible from Call of Duty to the point that it makes this game look like a Call of Duty knockoff. This game also features no real innovation to get excited over. The length pretty much seals this games fate on top of it all. The graphics are OK and the audio is a mixed bag. Ultimately, if you missed playing this game, you really aren’t missing much.

Furthest point in game: Beat the game on Recruit.

General gameplay: 14/25
Replay value: 6/10
Graphics: 6/10
Audio: 2/5

Overall rating: 56%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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