The setting was always going to be about the conflict going in the middle east and the game doesn’t necessarily say it but it makes clear reference to the 9/11 attacks from the get-go. If your someone who can keep your emotions in check then you’ll find this a great addition to the story as it is emotive and makes you want to care about the story straight away. Controversy has surrounded this game with the Taliban clearly made as the villains which to some can offend but it is creditable as this could be the launch pad for revealing operations of what is actually happening in the world around us instead of reading about it on the news. The story consists of 3 squads running on similar stories as your all connected in some way and throughout the 10 missions you’ll find yourself switching between the squads. The progress of the teams are referenced in new missions which gives the teams some meaningful connectivity instead of serving no relevance to each other. The story is realistic but does feature those cinematic set-pieces we’ve come to expect in recent times; however they’re done well and are believable as I refer to one mission that has you fighting of hoards of enemies as your team’s ammo supply becomes noticeably low and it seems like the end is near as you face an endless cycle of respawning enemies. But the enemies WERE respawning and it was clearly visible too as their pixelated bodies would suddenly materialise at the top of a hill. You also have to stand in a certain position or even backtrack through the level just to activate the invisible checkpoint required to activate the next part of the level which can be quite irritating. Unfortunately there is no online co-op present here so you’ll have to do the story alone but there is a nice addition called “Tier 1” mode which lets you replay the missions again but challenges you to complete them in under a certain time. You’re given the opportunity to freeze the clock by performing a feat such as killing 5 enemies in quick succession or performing a melee kill. When I said 10 missions I meant it; whilst the campaign is gripping it is very short even by today’s standards of first person shooters. Now I would consider myself a hardcore gamer and a veteran of FPS’ but I completed this on Hard in 4 hours which quite frankly isn’t acceptable when you’re paying full price for a game. Also considering that some people don’t have access to online you question if so much focus should be put into the online aspect of the game.
Now I don’t like to mention any other leading games when reviewing a game but it makes comparisons easier. Medal of Honor, in my opinion, is a hybrid game of Call of Duty and Battlefield as the core gameplay can have you in quick-fire combat using cover and eliminating the enemy before moving onto someone else or you can actually play this tactically. Now I’m not insinuating that Battlefield is the strategic man’s game but it offers more depth in how to approach a scenario. With your teammates by your side you could find some courage and rush in all with a shotgun trying to obliterate anything in your path or you could take cover whilst you and your teammates systematically pick off enemies one-by-one with your military grade M4 assault rifles. Alternatively there is always the option to hang back and snipe wherever possible as Medal of Honor wants you to feel immersed in this game and feel like it can give you the freedom to complete a mission the way YOU want to complete it. From modified M4’s equipped with silencers and dot sights to NODs (Night Observation Device) the realism is always reflected in your environment whether it’s stealthily taking out enemies unnoticed in the dark or piloting a gunship you’ll always have the necessary tools to combat the enemy. I’ve purposely saved the most interesting and, in my opinion, useful feature till last which is the sprint slide. If your under fire or you’ve wandered into an area that has an ambush lying around just waiting to feast on you then you can run and use the crouch/prone button to slide along the ground quickly to hide behind cover which is incredibly useful and revolutionary.
Be warned of all the categories this will be where most of the scrutiny and criticism will be sadly. Now a game with such anticipation as Medal of Honor being released midway through 2010 you’d expect the graphics to be sensational but Medal of Honors just aren’t. The opening level is a very dark level and goes for grey and black for that intense night-time secret operations look. But as you progress through the game you’ll encounter bright sunny days in the hillside which is where the real test begins. Some effects such as water look good as they ripple to good effect but the backdrops aren’t too appealing and the Unreal 3 engine is looking a bit dated at times despite modifications to it. Some of the textures aren’t clear and blatant rips in the scenery with some allowing you to see through the level map is just utterly terrible and bewildering. From a personal perspective the most shocking graphical hiccup I encountered actually happened in the epic stand-off battle I described in the story category above. As I was engaged in a frantic battle I was hidden behind a wall to reload when I was mortified by the wall I was looking directly at as that bit of wall was made up of about 40 massive pixels that a 9 year old could’ve implemented. I was sat waiting for the smooth textures to kick in but alas it never happened. The introduction of gore and brutality is a nice touch; if you nail a headshot with a shotgun or sniper rifle then that particular Taliban will have his head explode into a cascade of red. Actually not so much a cascade but more of a splatter of bits of head and blood which is very graphic but very real which is what the game is constantly trying to give you. But my gripe continues as poor character models make said characters lose their personality with several of your allies looking similar and having no individual features except one of your team-mates Dusty who sports an awesome beard. This may seem silly but that beard makes Dusty recognisable and makes him actually stand-out from the other characters who seem as similar 2 peas in a pod.
The online is quite devious and also very interesting as it’s a “Medal of Honor online” sticker slapped directly onto a modified Battlefield: Bad Company 2 online. Bad Company 2 creators Dice has been solely working on the Medal of Honor online and they’ve even been using their Frostbite 1.5 engine to make it too. This could immediately influence your decision about whether to play it or not, for me I was excited as I have owned both Bad Company 1 + 2 and love Battlefield games. But enough about Battlefield; first off you are given 4 different modes to play with each offering different variations of death. They range from the bog standard team deathmatch to a story related mode where you capture several different objectives and move progressively closer to your target your allies need to bomb or capture. The 6 or so maps aren’t taken from in-game missions but they’re definitely different with each ranging in size and designed with individual level structures in mind e.g one is a tight small base with little room to manoeuvre in and plenty of ways around, whereas one is a big open desert type map perfect for sniping. The level of customisation doesn’t even come close to Call of Duty but this is not necessarily a bad thing because as much as I love being able to choose from dozens of guns with different scopes and attachments plus multiple types of equipment, simplicity can be just as satisfying. You’re given 3 classes (Assault, Spec-Ops and Recon) with one focusing on pure all assault with a powerful weapon, one focuses on a stealthier up close and personal approach and one is predominantly long range. Your able to level up a maximum of 15 times with teach class with each additional level offering either a new piece of equipment or a new weapon to use to give you a bigger arsenal. Instead of killstreaks Medal of Honor uses a much more useful scorestreak that rewards a player for completing objectives or assisting their team instead of just being an A grade killing machine. With each reward earned you’re given the choice of using the scorestreak to help your team or selfishly help yourself. For instance, the first reward you can earn for 50 points will let you either call in a mortar strike to obliterate anyone in the radius of your strike or call in a UAV which lets your team see your enemies on the map for a brief time. So your given a choice of morality as certain situations could desperately require a defensive action but you want nothing more than to help yourself.
This is definitely the stand out category of Medal of Honor as hours clearly spent with the firearms and perfecting the dialogue has really added to the experience of playing this game. From mission one I fired my M4 and the sound of close quarters bullets ricocheting in the street and explosive sound of bullets shooting out of the chamber were electric and it truly was the first time I had ever played a FPS that had me convinced this was war! Grenades produce an echoing boom upon detonation and when you’re engaged in a massive firefight with a large group of the Taliban you can really feel the bullets chewing up the environment around you. But a firefight wouldn’t be the same if communication wasn’t present so that’s why Danger Close has made sure headset chatter is precise and accurate. Now I have never been in the army or worked for a special forces unit like the majority of you, but I know that their is a lot of top secret terminology used in combat and it won’t be all understandable but it’s the fact that it is present which makes it effective. But from chatter to loud vocal shouting during mid-combat your team-mates shouting instructions and communicate with each other which shows great chemistry and you feel like your A.I allies are more like your real-life friends. This is undoubtedly the best game ever to recreate the atmosphere of a battlefield or frantic action of confined area.
As previously stated, the campaign will differ based on the level of your ability with more experienced users whizzing through the campaign with ease. I personally feel that inexperienced users will not have too much difficulty in negotiating the campaign and even then it could take them a maximum 8 hours, it’s certainly a fun campaign and you may opt to have another playthrough. The addition of Tier 1 mode definitely adds a new dimension to the way you play the missions as you’ll focus less on playing the perfect mission but more on how to complete the mission in the fastest time and you’ll find yourself trying advanced strategies to stop that clock more frequently. It’s a more old school blend of arcade and a throwback to users who’ll remember the old Medal of Honor games where you would start the level all over again if you died with that being the case here. Single-player aside, you have the online which if you have happened to play games online and enjoy it then this will be no exception. It carries the addictive formula set by leading shooters of getting you to play a match and then immediately wanting to play more like the blood-thirsty gamers we are.
********Special PS3 Mention***********
(I will not affect the score of the game with this as it would be unfair to influence the score of the actually Medal of Honor game with a completely different game.)
If like me you’re a PS3 owner then with the limited edition release you’ll receive Medal of Honor: Frontline which is a remastered PS2 game that now comes with HD visuals and a full set of trophies with a shiny platinum too. This is exclusive to the PS3 as Xbox 360 owners do not get this with their copy of Medal of Honor. As someone who owned the original on the PS2 all those years ago I thought it was one of the greatest shooters I had ever played, although shooters weren’t as common then. It may seem poor in comparison to today’s games but it is still a great game with a good story and variety in the levels too. Like Call of Duty: Classic this is a great addition to people who never got a chance to sample the best Medal of Honor game made.
Medal of Honor makes a very good attempt to reboot the series, it may have moved on from the spy antics of the likes of jimmy Patterson but it has moved into a more relatable market. With great gameplay that makes use of modern mechanics and inventive ones too you’ll find it very easy to get to grips with. You’ll have fantastic audio and you should be able to look past the short but very enjoyable campaign , but visuals could be a problem because although they’re pleasing at times they really do let the game down for the majority. Online is a great experience and should keep you hooked for hours not to forget Medal of Honor: Frontline if your a PS3 owner with the limited edition. You have a solid package here and considering it’s a reboot then EA and Danger Close have built a solid foundation to work on here.