It's almost a cliché of a cliché, moaning about how World War II is overplayed in war games. "Aren't there other wars to choose from?" is the question routinely asked by bitter games reviewers across the world as they find themselves stuck in the muddy trenches fighting the Germans... again, finding out they're developing a new superweapon... again, and that we're the only ones to stop them... again. The problem isn't really to do with the abundance of WWII games; more specifically, it's to do with the abundance of mediocre WWII games.
Does Medal Of Honor: Heroes 2 change that? Not really. Not for a lack of effort though. If we reviewed games on the sole basis of effort put in, Medal Of Honor: Heroes 2 would walk off with a gold star glued to its t-shirt, proudly showing it off to anyone who happens to walk past. Unfortunately, we still have to take into consideration those other minor details: AI, pacing, polish and balance. Things that, without exception, EA has managed to get wrong here.
The Good News!
Let's start with what it gets right. The multiplayer is fantastic. The tightly designed maps of the Campaign mode come into their own and having 32 players online firing, strafing, ducking and diving is electric. The modes are limited but there aren't any major lag issues and the teamplay dynamic works really well. Throw in customisation options such as being able to choose your weapon and uniform, along with a cute killcam, and for instant pick up and play fun, this can't be topped.
For lone rangers, Medal of Honor: Heroes 2 also does a decent job of shaking up the well worn grooves of a war game, dropping you in sewers, open fields, ruined cities and monasteries. The story connecting the levels is pretty thin but it doesn't matter. The fact that the levels actually change beyond green-and-brown textures lifts this above the majority of its genre stable-mates.
The levels themselves aren't too bad from a gameplay standpoint either, as again, attempts to vary the formula keeps things fresh. You could be sniping guards from a distance, blowing up fuel tanks, disabling generators, holding off counter-attacks or surviving ambushes. It rarely settles into a humdrum corridor shooter routine and is all the better for it. Heroes 2 might not be reinventing the wheel but it's reinventing the war FPS of old and that's good enough.
The effort put in is especially apparent when it comes to the controls. EA, never known as a bastion of innovation, has turned its own reputation on its head and injected life into the tired legs of the traditional FPS control scheme. Witness the way you have to twist the Wii Remote sideways to zoom in with your sniper rifle (to replicate scope twisting), jerk the Wii Remote forward to reload your shotgun (to replicate bad-ass action movies) and best of all, turn the Wii remote upside down and place it on your shoulder to fire a bazooka (to replicate... real life?). There are also mini-games thrown in, the best one demanding you twist the Wii Remote to tune into allied frequencies on the radios you find throughout. You can also use the Wii Zapper to good effect here and either control scheme works equally well.
The good news is, 99% of the time, the controls are solid enough to hold together the attempts at innovation, aided by the fact you can tweak the sensitivity and deadzones to fit your own specific arm-waving antics - especially useful given the fast pace of the online side.
That's not to say there aren't annoying problems though. One particularly delightful section sees you having to twist the Wii Remote and jerk it upwards to set a bomb that will blow-up a gunship, which would be fine if you didn't have to put up with fire on both sides, the Wii Remote struggling to realign itself after the jerk to set the bomb and a checkpoint that begrudgingly lumbers into view a good while after you've made it out alive.