It seems that gamers simply can't get enough of World War II. And who can blame people for wanting another chance to shoot Hitler's Axis of Evil right in the mush? This time around, Electronic Arts is, somewhat wisely, going back to the series' Frontline/Allied Assault-era roots to deliver what promises to be one of the most accessible titles in the series' eight year history.
With Airborne due out shortly on Xbox 360 and PS3, Heroes 2 caters for the Wii and PSP, and both boast 32-player online play, with the Wii version also boasting an on-rails light gun-style mode that will support the recently announced Zapper peripheral.
Due out later this year, we grabbed an exclusive interview with lead producer Matt Tomprowski to tell us more about this latest installment.
Eurogamer: Over what period of time is the game set over, and in what locations?
Matt Tomprowski: The game takes place shortly after D-Day, all in one continuous area near the Normandy beach landings. We chose to design the game in one large, focused location with a lot of depth to build on the immersion rather than have the player traveling across a lot of scattered, disassociated areas. With this design, players will get to experience a lot of diverse battlefields and war zones in much greater detail.
Eurogamer: Is there any particular reason EA chose to focus on Normandy again, as opposed to, say, focusing on a battle that's never been featured in a Medal of Honor game?
Matt Tomprowski: We've focused on creating an immersive single player campaign that features the player as an operative of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the predecessor to the CIA and the special forces arm of the military during WWII. As OSS agent Lieutenant John Berg, the player will carry out secret missions and experience the battlefields around Normandy in an all new way, different from previous Medal of Honor games. We were excited about this location and this time, shortly after D-Day, because we're able to put the player right into the most pivotal and intense time and place of the war. Given that the Axis army was at the height of its power in France and the success of the Allied invasion was by no means certain, the player's missions take on major significance in the outcome of the war.
Eurogamer: How many missions are there, and roughly how long would it take the average player to get through first time?
Matt Tomprowski: We really tried to address some of the feedback we received on the somewhat short length of the first Medal of Honor Heroes campaign, and have built out an all-new campaign that is as long and as deep as other traditional FPS campaigns found on other consoles. In Medal of Honor Heroes 2, there are seven levels that span the campaign on the PSP - we estimate will take an average player a good 6-8 hours to play through on medium difficulty. Of course, there is a more difficult setting that will lengthen the length of the campaign, and the time doesn't account for the hours of replayability that will come from the 32-person online multiplayer.
Eurogamer: How have you approached the subject matter and gameplay this time? How have things moved on since the days of Frontline and Allied Assault?
Matt Tomprowski: We are really big fans of the early Medal of Honor games like Frontline and Allied Assault, because they really created and defined the WWII shooter genre. Some of the elements that we really enjoyed from these classics were the sense of adventure and the secretive nature of the storyline and missions. Thus, in designing Medal of Honor Heroes 2, we've really tried to go back to the roots of Medal of Honor and tap into those great elements of adventure and espionage, while adding new gameplay elements and some of the gritty realism of battle that WWII FPS gamers have come to love.
Eurogamer: How are you handling the iconic beach landing sequence?
Matt Tomprowski: While there is plenty of tough enemy resistance on the beach landing to contend with, the experience is unique and follows a different storyline from the D-Day beach landings we've seen in previous WWII games. In Medal of Honor Heroes 2, Lieutenant Berg is inserted with a group of the 5th Rangers infiltrating a small coastal town shortly after the D-Day landings. So while the player is fighting alongside the Rangers against enemy troops, he also has his own top secret objectives to carry out while he weaves in and out of the frontline of battle across beaches, cities, rural villages and many other unique environments. To further immerse the player in battle, we've worked hard to improve the game's visuals over what was achieved in the original Medal of Honor Heroes. All these elements come together to create a compelling experience of one of the most iconic times in our history.
Eurogamer: Is there much of a requirement to cover squad mates, or can you focus fully on your own goals in the game?
Matt Tomprowski: While you are fighting alongside squads of Allied Ranger soldiers who are trying to liberate the area from enemy occupation, your main focus is to carry out your own top secret OSS objectives. The gameplay focus is on your objectives and goals.
Eurogamer: How do you keep things fresh for people who've played several WWII shooters in the past?
Matt Tomprowski: As a resourceful OSS operative, you'll be expected to make use of whatever equipment you can commandeer in battle and you'll come across a variety of weaponry and equipment on the battlefield. There'll be moments when you capture enemy machine gun and artillery gun emplacements (along with other heavy weapons that you get to use) to turn the tables in combat and to mix up the action.
Eurogamer: Tell us about the weapons and general combat system - is there anything new to report here, or will it go for the tried and trusted loadout and game mechanics that we're used to?
Matt Tomprowski: Medal of Honor Heroes 2 will feature the classic, authentic weapons from WWII. In addition to these weapons the player will also get to interact with some new, unique emplaced heavy weapons that really have an impact, and will also have unique abilities and devices at his disposal that have not been featured in previous WWII games.
Eurogamer: How are you handling the health system? Good old fashioned health packs, or magically recharging health?
Matt Tomprowski: We've designed a regenerating health system to allow the player to focus more on the intense action of battle and to use cover and tactics rather having to spend a lot of time scouring environments for health packs.