Medal of Honor Heroes 2 Review
Each time I pop a new first-person shooter into my PSP I do so with some apprehension. How the company that pretty much pioneered the two-stick controller could have left a second stick off of the PSP is beyond me, and shooters on the system have always suffered because of this oversight. You know that the system has a problem when the first thing that I think about when reviewing a PSP shooter is the control scheme - not the gameplay, not the weapons, not the graphics, not the AI, but the controls. This brings us to Medal of Honor Heroes 2, the latest World War II shooter to come to the PSP. So let's get the basics out of the way and start by looking at how well the controls work.
The default control scheme uses the analog nub to control your movement, the face buttons to control your look, and the right shoulder button to fire. This is not a unique control scheme as far as PSP shooters go, but the difference in Heroes 2 is that it works pretty well. The problem with most games is that the face buttons don't give you very precise control. You know the drill: the aiming cursor is to the right of your target so you tap the left button making it jump to the left side of the target, you tap the right button and it jumps too far to the right of your target, so you tap left ... In Heroes 2 this is not an issue because the cursor movements controlled by the face buttons are far more precise. You can pop in and out of cover and fire short bursts and have reasonable chance of hitting your targets. You can also use the left shoulder trigger to aim down your gun's sights to be even more accurate. Add in easy weapon switching and reloading via the d-pad and nice responsive movements with the nub and you've got a PSP shooter that lets you concentrate on the gameplay rather than on the controls.
Now that you know that Heroes 2 has cleared that major hurdle, let's take a look at the gameplay itself. You play as an OSS agent embedded with regular troops during the Normandy campaign. As an embedded agent, you accompany the troops in action but you'll have your own set of objectives that include actions such as sabotage and secret plan pilfering. In practice, you'll still play the game pretty much as if the storyline had put you in the boots of a regular army soldier save for your need to occasionally blow up safes and grab secret documents.
Here's where things may at first sound a little strange because I am first going to tell you that the AI in the game is pretty weak and then that the gameplay is actually kind of fun. This is indeed the case with Heroes 2 and hopefully I'll be able to explain why. The AI in Heroes 2 is, well, pretty weak. Enemies have predefined spawn points and preprogrammed destinations, so if you find yourself in the right spot you can mow down a group of them as they stubbornly push past the corpses to carry out their orders. When behind cover enemies tend to do an impression of a jack-in-the-box, popping up and down from the same spot and making it easy for you to pick them off. Making things even easier on you is the fact that the game will mark the enemy locations for you by placing a floating Iron Cross above their heads. To their credit they are decent shots, and if you try to run and gun your way through the level or start taking fire from another direction they can take you out pretty quickly. And the questionable thinking is not just a Nazi thing; you fellow troops aren't all that bright either. You'll pretty much be an army of one in this game.
So that's the suspect AI, now why is this fun? It's hard to pinpoint exactly but it's probably in a large part due to the arcade shooting gallery feel of the game. I've already noted that you can't run your way through the game like it was some sort of old school shooter, but things move quickly and the pace is nice and brisk. Couple that with the well-implemented controls and you've got some fun portable shooter action. The arcade shooter parallel doesn't end here, though. Unfortunately the other common factor is the length of the game which is short. All told you've got a cross-country flight's worth of campaign missions, and unless you're the type who enjoys replaying missions to earn more medals and complete 100% of the game's secondary objectives then that will be the end of things. At least on the single player side of it. Heroes 2 includes a multiplayer online component that supports up to 32 players at once. Aside from the usual hiccups that seem to plague the PSP when you take it online the multiplayer game runs pretty well. There's nothing unusual about the multiplayer game, but it does a competent job of giving you some online action. Besides, it's pretty cool to be able to frag other players while hanging out at your local Starbucks.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 82%. Medal of Honor Heroes 2 is something that's a bit rare on the PSP, an enjoyable first-person shooter.