Review By: David Pulgar
|# Of Players:||1 (2-32 online)|
|Accessories:||Memory Stick Pro Duo, Wi-Fi (Infrastructure)|
World War II FPS games have become cliché over the last five years. That means if you’re going to make a WWII FPS, it better be spectacular in order to stand out. And that’s the definition of Medal of Honor: Heroes 2 (MOHH2) for the PSP – spectacular. I can’t get enough Nazi-killin’ action in this latest installment of EA’s popular franchise. As waves of Axis evil march on Europe, I take ‘em down like target practice at a carnival. Not to say combat is easy. The A.I. isn’t dumb, but you’re not fighting against Halo 3 Legendary Brutes or Houdini Splicers from BioShock. Most of MOHH2’s resistance comes in numbers. Enemies fire from cover and lob grenades, but careful players should be able to get through MOHH2’s normal campaign without dying too often. But that doesn’t mean single-player is dull. Levels, though linear, are diverse and have limited repetition. So be prepared to engage Nazis all over Europe across beaches, sewers, villages, factories and more.
My biggest surprise with MOHH2 is how EA handles the controls. I didn’t know what to expect with a portable FPS. Some great control conversions have been implemented to make up for the PSP’s lack of a second analog stick (Me and My Katamari) but I’ve also seen bad ones (Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops). Thankfully, EA choose a customizable scheme. Default controls are left analog for forward and back, strafe left strafe right movement. The triangle, circle, X, square buttons look up, down, left and right. Directional pad buttons map to crouch, reload, switch weapons and use for in-game objects. It did take me about 10 or 15 minutes to learn the controls, but after that I was back to Nazi bashing with ease in the immersive single-player campaign.
One of my only qualms with MOHH2 is the absence of a storyline. Before each mission, gamers are shown photographic briefings. That’s it. There’s no character development (a-la Brothers in Arms) or progressive storyline. Medal of Honor: Heroes 2 is purely an objective-based game. And that system works on the PSP where gaming is a diversion for a metro ride or long trip. If developers had spent more time on the story, MOHH2 would have been nearly perfect. But despite MOHH2’s lack of storytelling or character development it has solid FPS characteristics.
The attention to detail in MOHH2 helps immerse gamers in EA’s WWII environment. Sound is excellent and the background score and narration during mission briefings are equally well done. At times I felt like a soldier in Saving Private Ryan or Band of Brothers. Special effects and weapon sounds are equally well done. Speaking of weapons, each gun in MOHH2 looks and functions like their WWII counterparts. And the sound for each one is excellent. When zooming the sniper rifle, you even hear the clicks associated with turning the scope lens. Each weapon, Axis and Allied, has its own particular feel. The M-1 Garand’s generous clip can only be reloaded when spent, the BAR rifle is powerful but slower, and a well-placed Springfield shot takes enemies down in one hit. In total, gamers have access to over a dozen weapons. I’m partial to the sniper rifles in MOHH2. Why? Well, when sniping you’re guaranteed that satisfying clang against a Nazi’s helmet. Grenades are also fun. Gamers have two options when using them. Lob them outright or pull the pin and hold to speed up the detonation timer. Be careful though. You don’t want that pineapple going off in your hands!
Gamers also use a variety of campaign-specific weapons like mortars, cannons and machine guns. These weapons, which are only found in single-player, are part of the campaign and usually relate to an objective. For example, players might have to man a mortar and destroy a convoy of Nazi soldiers. Another instance might involve holding ground with only a machine gun. Careful though, they overheat fast. These moments in MOHH2’s typical run-and-gun gameplay help break up the linear level progression.
When gamers are done with single player objectives, the brave can continue online. Medal of Honor: Heroes 2 supports Ad Hoc and Infrastructure online play. I especially appreciate the infrastructure mode because not too many of my friends have PSPs. Online play is slower than standard console or computer-based FPS titles, but players will eventually adapt to MOHH2’s more sluggish game mechanics. The absence of multiplayer communication makes gaming difficult however. It’s understandable EA had some limitations to overcome concerning portable online multiplayer, but the current communication options (preset speech options and a numeric keypad styled keyboard) are lacking.
Actual gaming online is as fun as it is frustrating. I’m not sure how MOHH2 handles hit detection, but spraying your enemy with gunfire seems more effective than carefully choosing where to shoot on the body. By match’s end, I had stopped trying to pick enemies off as they approached. Instead, I hid till they closed in and then sprayed their bodies with gunfire. This tactic, while cheap in my opinion, worked great. I also had a problem with the shotgun’s range, which can kill half a map away, a bit long for my taste. Balance issues aside some other negatives are cheaters. Lets face it, you find those anywhere, but MOHH2 has no safeguards against spawn campers or hackers. Players will probably find more good games than bad, but don’t be surprised if you run into dirty gamers, even on EA’s small community of MOHH2 players (about 100 people logged on average in the week I was reviewing). Overall however, multiplayer was satisfactory and a welcome diversion for long trips with relatives.
Medal of Honor: Heroes 2 is a great game and a must-have for any PSP owner. Electronic Arts got it right, and there’s finally an FPS series worth having on a handheld, and I’m sure Medal of Honor fans will enjoy this game even more. Go buy it. As a distraction for long trips or short commutes, MOHH2 is the best FPS out there.
Posted: 2008-01-25 17:46:34 PST