March 16th, 2007, 02:10 Posted By: wraggster
Less than a month ago, IGN Wii traveled to EA LA to play a near-final version of Medal of Honor Vanguard for Nintendo's new console. You can read our first impressions right here. Now, we've got reviewable code for the game. So the big question is, what's changed, if anything, and on top of that, are the controls improved since we last saw the wartime shooter in motion? Keep reading for an updated look at the Wii FPS complete with new console-specific 480p / 16:9 screenshots.
We've gunned our way through several hours of Vanguard on Wii so far and the shooter successfully throws players into battle-heavy situations complemented by scripted sequences and visuals that, in our estimation, are prettier than anything in Call of Duty 3 for Nintendo's system. The music and audio portions of the game are a cut above most efforts, too.
That being true, Activision's FPS has Medal of Honor beat where movement is concerned. Vanguard brings to the table a variety of Wii-mote options, including the ability to tweak the sensitivity of turning speeds. However, regardless of which setting is chosen, the process of turning around and about in the environments is generally more sluggish - not Red Steel-level bad by any stretch of the imagination, but indisputably slower than Call of Duty 3. The upside is that as soon as you hold the A button, you activate the iron sights - essentially a scoped-in sniper view - where you can very easily and accurately target and shoot down enemies. It feels great and it's very responsive. We actually prefer the iron sights sniper control in Medal of Honor to Call of Duty 3's, even as we prefer the general maneuverability through levels in Activision's shooter.
Vanguard includes what some would call the Holy Grail option for Wii first-person shooters: a fixed-reticule mode. Before you jump up and down and cite the developer as the savior of the genre, though, be aware that its fixed-reticule is essentially a presentation trick and not the real deal. Although the reticule stays centered, the screen doesn't move around with your Wii remote. Actually, it took us only a few moments to determine that the fixed-reticule was still operating within the confined of a typical bounding box; as soon as you drag beyond the box, the screen begins to move -- you merely lose the ability to precisely target enemies and objects within the invisible field.
You move through the battlefields with the nunchuk's analog stick and aim with the Wii remote. EA has more intuitively mapped some functions to the pointer and nunchuk, too. For instance, you can perform a quick 180-degree turn merely by flicking to the left with the nunchuk. Meanwhile, to hurl a grenade, you simply point at the area you want it thrown, press the B button to lock the spot, and then make a tossing motion with the Wii remote. Easily our favorite feature, though, is the ability to target around corners by leaning with analog accuracy using the nunchuk's stick. We find ourselves using it all the time, especially since there are so many situations that require iron sights-enhanced gun battles.
You don't drive vehicles in Vanguard, but you do man turrets and many of the levels begin with a cinematic paratrooper sequence - after all, you are a member of the 82nd Airborne Division. These sub-stages, if you want to call them that, are over far too quickly for our liking because they both break up the monotony of standard run-and-gun gameplay and add quite a bit of atmosphere to the overall experience. You're usually in the air for about 30 seconds before the ground play resumes, but you do have control while you're up there. Pull back on the Wii remote and nunchuk and you'll slow your descent; push forward and you'll speed it up. And you can even steer left or right by pulling back on one controller and pushing forward with the other.
Vanguard boasts much-improved graphics over Call of Duty 3. Not only are the environments more diverse, but the textures that skin the stages are crisper. On top of that, the action is complemented by advanced real-time lighting effects so that when you shoot down an Italian soldier in a darkened alleyway, your gun's muzzle-fire will illuminate the walls in quick, short flashes. It will also highlight other soldiers, which also looks fantastic. The framerate, though, is less fluid than the mostly smooth make-up of Activision's game. In fact, we're currently playing through a level filled with lots of grass and rain where the fluidity dips well below 30 frames per second. Vanguard supports both 480p and 16:9 widescreen modes on Nintendo's console.
We'll have more on the title as we lead up to the review, including a report on the game's multiplayer mode.
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