Seeing the titular amount of modern military based shooters rising to huge success in the last few years, it’s no surprise to see EA bringing the once popular and highly influential Medal of Honor series back to the mix. Being that EA has already posted a successful shooter in to the field with Battlefield, it’s clear the intended target of this game is to debunk the ever growing popularity of the Call of Duty franchise. With Activision dominating the scene with recent behemoths of the Modern Warfare series, and soon to be released Black Ops, can Medal of Honor bring enough to the table to compete? Medal of Honor will also have to contend the sticks against the upcoming Battlefield 3 game as well. The game brings all the right pieces to make a successful game, but poor execution plagues this title and diminishes the potential staying power once known to the series.
In the wake of the September 11th attacks on the United States, Medal of Honor starts us off cruising through an Afghan town as a part of squad Neptune. The US is just starting its invasion of Afghanistan and the terrorist organization of the Taliban. Throughout the game you will take on the role of a squad member in different teams performing scouting and reconnaissance missions. The two prominent roles has you playing as Rabbit in the previously mentioned Neptune squad, as well as Deuce who is a sniper part of the Delta Force squad Wolfpack. Rugged and tough the story has you parading around the middle east engaging enemies and controlling key points. The desk-bound General Flagg gives hasty orders which brings conflict with your commanding officer Colonel Drucker. While the story makes strong use of vehicular combat, and traveling, there is little substance that makes the title stand out among the many better military shooters. The Danger Close guys did however produce good situational awareness allowing you to effectively use all of the games mechanics for single player.
Besides the aforementioned driving mechanic, which has you perusing the middle eastern desert on ATV’s you can also handle the triggers on an Apache helicopter which utterly wrecks everything. Medal of Honor includes some fresh movement mechanics which add a lot to the standard action running and gunning. Why you have the standard movement options, such as walking, running and strafing, there is also the ability to slide when you are running towards an object. They also added in the option to go prone in the game, however I didn’t find myself needing to do that, except for the areas where they forced you to prone under some objects. The main issue with the movement, is getting stuck on random objects, while trying to traverse the land, and having to convulse in order to get your self free. Weapons feel powerful and useful, usually dropping enemies quickly. While you will often rely on the assault rifles to get the job done, it is fun to run around with the shotguns leaving a massacre in your wake. The campaign is not much of a challenge, which is actually nice considering the lack of story that actually exists. Some of the scripted sequences really hold up the action, as you can not change their outcome even if you clearly are capable of doing so by line of sight. There are also plenty of areas where you could clearly jump over walls to get to areas but the game blocks you from doing this. There are some key moments that offer up some intensity but overall you will have no problem blowing through in about seven to eight hours.
The most unusual aspect of the entire game is the separation of the multiplayer to another engine. While the single player is using the Unreal 3 engine, the guys over at DICE were brought in to develop the multiplayer using the Frostbite engine used on their Battlefield Bad Company series. They did a decent job of matching the feel of the single player, however the weapons and movement were changed just a bit mostly due to the different engines. The weapons feel a little weaker and seem to have much less control. While the movement shows a loss of the cooler mechanic in the single player of sliding. Like Bad Company the prone was removed from the multiplayer as well. The multiplayer boasts a playbook similar to the already referenced Battlefield Bad Company games. The game modes offered parallel that of its EA brethren and don’t offer anything new to differentiate the two. There are four game modes out of the box in Medal of Honor; Combat Mission, Objective Raid, Team Assault and Sector Control. Each mode has you playing as the Coalition Forces or the renamed Taliban known as “OPFOR.” Combat mission lets you battle it out to control and overrun five objectives, each objective letting you progress to the next. In Operation Raid the OPFOR attempt to sabotage two objectives. Team Assault is a standard 12 on 12 deathwatch, and lastly Sector Control offers three capture points that your team needs to hold in order to gain points.
Both single player and multiplayer offer the Tier 1 mode, which employes different modes to give more value to the game. In single player Tier 1 is a mode in which you are challenged to beat a single player mission as fast as possible while earning points for doing skilled shots. The catch is you only have one change to make it through the entire level without dying. You earn points by getting headshots, multikills, and chaining kills together for combos. With integrated leaderboards you can track your progress and compete with others around the world to obtain the fastest times, the longest killshots among other ranks. The multiplayer version is used as the leveling mechanic to gain experience and unlock new weapons and items. Each of the classes; Rifleman, Special Ops, and Sniper, level up independently, allowing you to either play a single class and focus on that, or level each up on its own to give you the most weapons to choose from. Similar to Call of Duty or Battlefield, getting higher ranked weapons doesn’t necessarily make them better, as each weapon seems to have similar stopping power.
Graphically speaking the game cruises at a relatively smooth framerate, with a few hiccups here and there, in the more intense cutscenes and fast paces action areas with many models and effects not he screen at one time.Environments look stunning and varied, offering a variety of unique visual challenges. The models are crisp and detailed with realistic looking textures to boot. While the game offers plenty of good looks the glitches are very noticeable. At certain parts you can see models clipping through door ways, or parts of the ground, and in one instance there was a model just floating with no animations across the ground. Like battlefield the audio is fantastic. Explosions kick you in the chest, fire fights sound full and impactful as bullets ricochet off the ground and surrounding walls. Each hit sounds as good as the last, as lead meets flesh. There wasn’t much in the way of voice acting apart from the cutscenes, and while decent there really wasn’t anything outstanding, and the dialogue could have been better prepared.
Even with all of the games quirks, Medal of Honor gives up a comparable first person experience to others in the genre. The execution and pacing helped balance out the dull spots. The most discerning flaw is offering up a reskinned Battlefield experience without adding much to the formula. There simply isn’t enough diversity here to make this a long standing contender. If you are a Battlefield veteran or are just simply looking for a long lasting experience, it might be best to save your pennies and go for a more established franchise, or wait for the next big title in your wishlist.