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PSP  header logo

Medal of Honor Heroes

For: PSP

Online saves first-person shooter

Product: Medal of Honor Heroes | Developer: EA Canada | Publisher: Electronic Arts | Format: PSP | Genre: Shooter | Players: 1-32 | Networking: wireless (adhoc), wireless (network) | Version: Europe
Medal of Honor Heroes PSP, thumbnail 1
When, in 1977, David Bowie sang the line, "We can be heroes, just for one day", he couldn't possibly have known some 30 years on EA would be giving every PSP owner the chance to be a hero for any number of days.

But it is, because in Medal of Honor Heroes's Campaign mode you get to wear the uniforms of Patterson, Baker and Holt, renowned heroic soldiers and leaders from past MoH titles, and re-enact some of their previously unknown daring exploits in Italy, The Netherlands and Belgium.

Each territory comprises five missions in which a set of objectives (usually item collection or area recapturing) must be met before progress is allowed. Conquer all three and the war is effectively over. Which, unless you boost the difficulty level, will happen sooner than you'd imagine.

Heroic, perhaps, but even you can't win WWII on your own. Fighting alongside you, usually, is an infantry quartet, and aside from displaying a remarkable ability to stand in your line of fire and repeat the limited vocabulary they've been taught, they do prove useful in dealing with the enemy (even if only by acting as bullet bait) as well as adding to the atmosphere.

That's one element you can't shoot Heroes down for. The aural production values are up to EA's usual exemplary standard, with gunfire and explosions peppering a rich and convincing soundtrack. When you're crouching behind a crate or having to take refuge in a deserted building, with minimal health, limited ammo and bullets whizzing past relentlessly, there's a welcome amount of tension felt.

Unfortunately though, it's usually a momentary thing. Enemies tend to attack in waves, giving a staccato feel to the proceedings, and even though their AI behaviour often alters when replaying levels (making things less predictable), their restricted war tactics make them simplistic targets.

You can shoot their helmets off and they may decide to pick them up again, but even such touches fail to convince you that your opponents have progressed beyond 'drone' level. (To be fair, this isn't as much of an issue when it comes to the reasonably distracting Skirmish mode, which pits you against up to 16 AI opponents in frantic deathmatch-style encounters.)

In short, there's an element of artificiality about the gameplay. This is further accentuated by occasions when a particular weapon – such as a sniper rifle or gun turret – is encountered and utilised, thereby activating the arrival of further enemy troops to be disposed of. Sure, it makes sense to empower the player, but for the sake of immersion it's usually an idea to make such events feel a little more organically integrated into the rest of the action.

More convincing are the graphics. From the sun-drenched, vine-covered walls of Italian villas to the gloomy city streets of Holland and the white, winter wonderland of Belgian villages, the detail in the war-torn environments does much to counter the occasional synthetic feel of the action.

Pleasingly, these theatres of war are also reasonably intricate, offering a variety of routes to discover while making your way towards objectives. Flanking enemies from a tactically advantageous building window, having got there via a secluded underground tunnel linking cellars together, is a satisfying achievement. (See PG Tips below to improve your own performance in battle).

The graphical prowess can take its toll on the PSP, however, and on occasion manifests itself through glitches, such as the sudden materialisation of an enemy soldier where previously there was just empty space. It's a rare occurrence though, and it didn't particularly bother us as much as the administration of health packs – which only requires the D-pad to be held up for a fraction of a second but feels clumsy and unresponsive when you're under fire – or having to use the face buttons to aim (the lack of a second analogue stick will always plague first-person shooters on PSP), although a little tweaking with the responsiveness settings vastly improved things.

To return to the positives, there's the 32-player infrastructure mode (in addition to eight-player ad hoc one). Admittedly, we had trouble joining the larger games but we managed many 16-player encounters and thoroughly relished the affair. For one, the mode sustains the constant level of intensity the single-player Campaign can't, and the healthy number of match types, though traditional, keeps things varied and interesting.

Minor technical glitches aside, we'll go as far as saying it's something of a breakthrough for online PSP gaming.

More pressingly, multiplayer provides the backup the game's criminally short Campaign mode so desperately needs. Because "We can be heroes, for just three hours" doesn't quite have the same ring to it.
Medal of Honor Heroes
Reviewer photo
Joao Diniz Sanches | 6 December 2006
The single-player game is enjoyable but disappointingly short-lived. Thankfully, the impressive multiplayer options improve things considerably
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