Medal of Honor ReviewMartin Zmijewski
Following in the footsteps of that other World War II first person shooter, Medal of Honor is taking the fight to a current wartime setting. With this revamp of the series, players will be brought into the war in Afghanistan. In the months prior to the release, I was greatly looking forward to the new release. Reading interviews and articles dealing with the production of the game sparked my interest. As a fan of that other game series I was still interested in something different. EAs collaboration with the military made it seem like the game was going to be new and fresh. That there was going to be a more life-like rendition of a modern war. Unfortunately after getting my hands on the game I was slightly disappointed.
The main campaign of the game revolves around a group of Tier 1 soldiers and takes place in Afghanistan around the year 2001. Tier 1 is basically the highest rank of Special Forces, numbering only in the hundreds out of the millions of military personnel. The story line jumps between a few different view points. The Tier 1 team sneaks around behind enemy lines, making their way through the rocky landscape and Taliban controlled town. Then you have a squad of Army Rangers along with one or two other groups of Special Forces. The Tier 1 is your stealth missions and the rest are your intense battle scenes. In the end the game does not do anything all that new. Every aspect of a warfare game is there, missions where the player has to sneak around as a sniper, play as a chopper gunner, mark targets for air support, and all the other clichs. Even the story is not all that amazing. It is a typical military storyline, interesting but nothing that will remain with me all too long. The biggest downfall is how short the actual campaign is.
As far as graphics go, the game does look great. The environments are highly detailed and look much like I would expect Afghanistan to look. Still the stand-out feature of the game is the sound. Every gunshot rings clearly through the speakers. Just with the sound effects alone you feel immersed in every battle. I only have regular speakers, so I can imagine how amazing the game would sound with a surround sound system.
As the main campaign was developed by EA LA, the multiplayer was developed by DICE, the same people who brought the industry the Battlefield games. This seems to have worked out perfectly for Medal of Honor as the multiplayer is where the game gets really good. The combat is stripped down. There are no perks or class bonuses so in the end it is just you and your opponent. There is no extra health to cause an imbalance. There are no helicopters or jets dropping bombs. There are chain rewards but it never gets too hectic like in Modern Warfare.
There are three different classes to choose from, and each with a different set of weapons depending on what faction you play as. The classes are Rifleman, Spec Ops, and Sniper, each to be leveled separately. Each with a main weapon, sidearm, and an explosive device such a rifle mounted grenade launcher or a shoulder rocket launcher. Leveling up grants you access to different attachments for your weapons as well as other more powerful guns. There are three basic attachment positions on the guns, a site attachment such as a red dot site, barrel giving you silencers or recoil reduction, and ammunition with extra clips or stronger ammo like hollow point bullets.
There are several different game modes. Most of which are typical of most first person shooters, such as Team Assault which is a team death match and Sector Control where the two sides fight to control the three flags. One of the more challenging and interesting game modes is the Combat Mission. In this, one side is the offense and the other defense. For the offense there is one main goal at the end of a large map, however in order to get there they have to fight their way through four or five other obstacles. For example they might have to destroy a road block allowing a tank to pass through or capture strategic points such as bunkers or hangers all pushing forward to the final goal and the win. And all this while the opposing team defends.
Kill streaks become score chains. Rather than getting three or four kills, players have to acquire 50 points. Points are acquired from kills, assisting other players, or performing objectives. Once reaching 50 you have a choice of a defensive reward by using a UAV to see the enemies on radar or an offensive reward by calling a mortar strike. The score chain will continue on if the player remains alive with more rewards of missile strikes, ammo for the team, or extra armor for a short period of time.
There is a lot of diversity with the maps. Not one map looks the same or plays the same. There are urban settings such as Kabul City, small rundown villages with mud shacks and caves to hide in. Mezar-I-Sharif Airfield with airplane wrecks to hide in. Or Helmand Valley, a massive hillside battlefield. Still they are all typical of military shooters. The maps are well thought out and for the most part accommodate all styles of play. Although a few of the maps create a problem with snipers, making them a little too over-powered with perfect sniping positions. That is good for the snipers and not so much for everyone else.
There were only a few small problems I encountered with the multiplayer. One of those was over-powering sniping spots. Another was that the knife action button seemed a little too sensitive. Many times when I went to aim at a distance with the right analog I found myself getting killed because I would swing my knife instead. Lastly in the main campaign there was a great sliding move performed by running and holding the crouch button. I was a little disappointed that this was not in the multiplayer; it would have been a great way to dive for cover.
Though slightly disappointed with all the hype about the game, Medal of Honor was an enjoyable play, even if just for the great multiplayer experience. Overall it was nothing new. At least if anything it will be something to play before the next Call of Duty is released. If EA continues with the series hopefully they will learn from the mistakes of this game especially when it comes to creating a more engaging and memorable story.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.