Vanguard is the latest and probably the last in the long running World War II first person shooter series from EA on the PS2. Way back in the early days of the PS2, gamers were impressed by the jaw dropping and emotionally charged beach landing opening level of the first MoH game to surface on the PS2 - Frontline.
Numerous games and various settings have subsequently been made in the series and while the game mechanics have improved over time no other version ever seemed to catch the raw energy and immersive atmosphere of Frontline - Is Vanguard the standout and final high point of the series?
In Vanguard you assume the role of paratrooper Frank Keegan who also acts as the narrator giving some background to the various missions you undertake. Cut scenes are interwoven with actual footage in the same manner as other games in the series.
The game takes you across four campaigns which are subdivided into between 2 and 4 missions and sees you carrying on the fight in Germany, France, Italy and Holland.
The graphics are what you would expect if you have played any of the other MoH PS2 games or for that matter any of the multitudes of other WWII shooters on the platform. While Frontline stood out from the pack when it was released that was almost 5 years ago and the series only appears to have had minor graphical tweaks rather than a complete overhaul.
While not a bad looking game it just doesn't standout from the ever growing list of shooters out there and in a time where Call of Duty 3 on the Xbox360 looks truly stunning it leaves you a little under whelmed with Vanguard.
That said framerate remains steady with the only noticeable slowdown during the really hectic gunfights.
Scenery is the usual war torn towns, villages and churches all of which are fairly drab. Gun, explosions and enemy animations are functional rather than stunning however the game does present some memorable moments such as the parachuting sections, landing and looking back into a sky full of your paratrooping comrades.
One thing that the series has always got right has been the audio - the orchestral soundtrack will still make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck when it ramps up letting you know that trouble is on the way.
The voice acting is pretty well done - both allies who shout instructions and warnings to you and enemies cursing you in German.
If you are familiar with any FPS games on the PS2 you will be right at home playing Vanguard - controls work well without offering any innovation. The only part of the control system that you may not have used previously relates to the parachuting sections whereby you guide Frank to the ground. While it is probably the only new thing in the game it doesn't have a massive impact on progress or how you play the game.
Each mission gives you a number of objectives which develop and get added to as you progress through the game - Objectives are all rehashes of things you have seen before - collect documents, take out an enemy tank/bunker, storm an enemy stronghold - Pretty standard stuff.
I did have a few of major gripes with the game - there are lots of Nazis to deal with which is fun, but it is no surprise that we won the war if they acted anything like the soldiers in the game - They are possibly the stupidest army ever assembled and generally make for easy pickings.
The game is noticeably shorter than previous instalments taking around 7-8 hours to complete. This in itself is annoying however this is compounded by the fact that the final few missions have been made artificially more difficult simply by throwing a huge amount of enemies your way and limiting checkpoints.
Also I found the hit detection slightly annoying as it seemed to take a few shots for your bullets to hone in and actually register while at the same time you take lots of flak.
While I have been a little harsh on the game it is actually fun to play through - I think I have just been disappointed with a once great series that seems to have run out of steam. There is a lot more competition out there these days and sadly MoH: Vanguard does not stand up as the best WWII FPS shooter out there and probably not even as the best game in the Medal of Honor Series.
Overall I give Medal of Honor: Vanguard..
6.5 out of 10