Medal of Honor review (Xbox 360)

coolbeans | 1024d ago | User review
Reviewing: Medal of Honor
Closer to Bronze Star Medal Quality Rather Than Medal of Honor Quality
Many developers and publishers have wanted to take from the Call of Duty formula ever since the critically acclaimed and commercially successful Modern Warfare entry hit store shelves. From a series that was once at the frontline (pun intended) of FPS recognition in the WWII setting, the collaborative efforts of Danger Close and DICE aren't afraid to admit this change in scenery is heavily influenced by their biggest competitor last generation, despite knowing this could fall under the title "Call of Duty clone". In order to distance itself from pre-release skepticism, Medal of Honor is based on the Afghan War and is promising a more "realistic" approach. With this focus on realism, the question now comes as to whether or not this is the next FPS to have or if it's just another average shooter in an oversaturated genre.

The single player campaign takes place in Afghanistan, in 2002. For half of the game, players assume the role of a DEVGRU operator codenamed "Rabbit", of AFO Neptune. For the remainder, the player alternates between the roles of a Delta Force sniper code-named "Deuce", of AFO Wolfpack, as well as Army Ranger Specialist Dante Adams of the 75th Ranger Regiment, and AH-64 Apache gunner Captain Brad "Hawk" Hawkins for an on-rails copter mission. Throughout this 6 month venture of setting up base in Afghanistan to the first US troops hitting the ground, you'll notice that the action feels more toned-down in credit to the source material. While this focused aim on setting up a recognizable atmosphere to the soldiers overseas is admirable, it usually boils down to the acronym-laden script that's just failing to impress after so many modern-era games being released.

Overall, MoH's (Medal of Honor's) story falls flat in so many regards that it's tough to find a bright spot. The campaign is under 4 hours, the few dramatic situations in the campaign are either shoe-horned in or fall flat, and constant jumping between characters makes the game feel like it has no direction. Although I've never served in the military, I have to question just how realistic it is for a suited General half way around the world to whimsically put lives in unnecessary danger just for the sake of the term "Rangers lead the way". The inconsistency in so many of the few story developments throughout the game leave the player to reserve his/her emotions for the beginning and ending lines presented.

The beautifully-rendered cutscenes and often jaw-dropping vistas are the high points in what seems to be average graphics overall. Visual bugs are rampant throughout the entirety of the singleplayer portion of the game. The framerate drops almost every time your allies are dropping bombs "danger close" of your position and textures pop in quite frequently. There was even one segment where your staging area impaired your vision thanks to all of the dust sweeping in from every angle, then became crystal clear in an instant. Although I've never heard this term, it could be described as environment pop-in. The visual aspects revolving around character modeling look good, and come with some solid physics; however, nighttime missions and times when lighting comes into focus are sub-par in comparison. MoH isn't necessarily an average looking game-for 2010, it just careens all over the visual fidelity scale; there's essentially the same amount of compliments and denunciations you could make for the visuals.

Where the game falters the least is in the sound design department (as expected with any game with DICE's involvement). Although it can be noted that the profusion of the word "f***ing" throughout the game can start to feel like a cliché, the technical design is nearly flawless bar the uninspired soundtrack. The sound of your ears ringing from a nearby grenade to the plethora of different artillery noises in the midst of battle has rarely sounded better. Even the constant radio chatter in the online loading screens shouldn't go unnoticed. The only weird quibble I have with the game is when your comrades decide to sound like they're talking through the radio or not. Sometimes everything you're making out with your squad is through the radio, despite you standing right next to them.

With an ongoing war as the setting, the creative ability of the gameplay could initially be worrisome because it could limit the gamer's overall enjoyment; however, that's not the case with Medal of Honor. While it can initially seem to be a more monotonous approach to shooting bad guys, this toned-down formula from the recent expectation in blockbuster video games can actually become more appreciated because simple events like a chopper going down have more impact. At the same time, you're still able to witness those intense moments when dozens of enemies fill up the screen.

While the overall approach seems to go off with few hitches, that doesn't mean the overall gameplay works as fluidly as it should. Although the controls work well, the level design will often leave you detached from being fully immersed. Getting from point A to point B normally requires you to hit the D-Pad more often then you should, and it's not helped by all of the invisible walls laid out before you. Simply put: If the level design wasn't so inconsistent, you could finish the game in less than 3 hours, even on hard difficulty-which isn't even challenging. To make matters worse, the rubber band enemy AI rarely puts up a challenge, unless they're in the dozens. Even though the friendly AI is handy, I was constantly annoyed by their bantering to complete X objective, despite me already finishing it or en route to finish it. While Medal of Honor's gameplay does work on paper, so many of those gameplay elements fall short of their desired goal.

Although missing any offline/online co-op option, Tier 1 Mode fills that desire for campaign replayability. The rules are as follows: complete each level in the fastest time possible without dying. Certain actions like knife kills, headshots, and consecutive kills slow down time for a few seconds. Being tied in with the EA leaderboards, Tier 1 automatically tracks a variety of different stats that are submitted upon completion of that level. The addictive nature of wanting to shave off seconds of your time to climb up the leaderboards will keep you coming back quite often. The only problem with Tier 1 Mode is you're constantly required to stay online while playing these levels. This became a problem for me when progressing through certain levels then suddenly being disconnected from EA's servers. Although this didn't happen often, it seems that making this mode available for non-online players should've been something of expectancy since the mode's inception.

With DICE working at the competitive online helm of MoH, the meeting of the middle road between Call of Duty and Battlefield comes full circle in this reboot. You have both classes-Rifleman, Spec Ops, and Sniper-and support actions (which are essentially killstreaks). Support actions either help the team through defensive or offensive means. While the offensive support actions are what we've typically seen in the recent Call of Duty games, the defensive support actions help your team through passive means, with flak jackets or improved ammo. You're also able to acquire these actions by either killing enemies, racking up kill assists, or by objective-based means. Although this encourages teamwork, there's really nothing beyond nuances that makes it feel like a shameless copy. While copying doesn't always mean the experience will be worse, Medal of Honor doesn't bring anything that hasn't been integrated better by its competition. Certain facets like bad vehicle handling and boring leveling show that most hardcore FPS fans won't enjoy the competitive multiplayer. If you're well acquainted with FPS', you'll probably reach Tier 1 Warfighter (Highest rank) for one class in a weekend-if not sooner.

Although the reboot of Medal of Honor is great news for old school FPS fans, this revision of the series could've been much better. Medal of Honor isn't necessarily a bad game. In fact, it's quite good in aspects that certain FPS fans may appreciate; at the same time, it has just as many bad/average qualities. It certainly attains some redeemable qualities that may satiate a few FPS gamers out there, but the overall lack of clear direction makes this one of 2010's biggest disappointments.

coolbeans' *RotteN* badge
Ups
Tier 1 Mode
Engagements and focus that's more down-to-earth than other FPS titles
Downs
Visual bugs
Short campaign w/ stupid story elements
Uneven gameplay
Score
5.0
Graphics While the graphical fidelity is above average-or even good-in many departments, it's held back by a poor framerate, visual oddities, and underpolished areas.
7.5
Sound Despite having a tough-and sometimes annoying-script to follow for non-military gamers, MoH deserves some accolades in technical design.
4.5
Gameplay Although certian fundamentals work, questionable level design, bland enemy AI, and other gameplay incongruities make overall gameplay seem fairly mediocre.
4.0
Fun factor Although I thought it impossible, it seems that a 4-hour campaign can have 'fluth' added to it. The unnecessary cutscenes and surfeit of invisible walls detract any real immerision I could've had.
6.5
Online Tier 1 essentially saves the online portion. The entire competitive multiplayer feels half-hearted.
5.0
Overall (out of 10 / not an average)
coolbeans  +   1024d ago
I hope everyone enjoyed the review :D. It's kind of sad to think this is probably the best Medal of Honor game this gen imo. I had such high hopes for Airbourne and this official reboot, but both are just subpar entries into the series.
IcyEyes  +   1023d ago
Most of the time I agree with your comments, but to be honest you are too harsh with this game.

The MP for example, after the patch, was a really good experience. Something between COD and BF2.
coolbeans  +   1023d ago
Thank you for your honest comment. I can concede that disappointment could've fueled the overall score by a few tenths. Finding MoH: Frontline to be one of the best WWII games of all time, it's sad to see how low the series has gone since it came to this generation.

General feelings for MoH's MP:

+ I do enjoy the mixture between CoD and BF2

+ I do enjoy all of the nooks and crannies thrown into the map design

- There's no real reward after you've leveled a to 8 or 9 in each class

- I'm around 10 hours into the MP and I'm already a lvl 10 sniper (2/3's of the way to max), lvl 6 spec ops, and lvl 5 assault class. So that basically means you could fully level your main class in 1 work day (if you're good) and already have experimented with everything that class has to offer.

- I still notice some technical issues; however, that could be on my end.

Let me also say that I don't find Medal of Honor to be bad. A flat 5.0 just means an average overall experience imo after weighing out all of the pro's and con's.
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IcyEyes  +   1023d ago
@coolbeans:
You are welcome.
Well, about :

"
+ I do enjoy the mixture between CoD and BF2

+ I do enjoy all of the nooks and crannies thrown into the map design

- There's no real reward after you've leveled a to 8 or 9 in each class
"

I totally agree!

Anyway, your point are valid and there some "imho" opinion that I respect.
Just to be more clear, I don't think MhO it's a 9 or 10 score, but I think they have a pretty limited resource to create a good game and after all, it's not the best, but some things are enjoyable :)
lex-1020  +   1023d ago
Man I hate when people say "I think your being to hard on this game." It's his freaking review. If you disagree write your own review.
coolbeans  +   1023d ago
I for one think we should welcome that (provided it isn't blatantly trolling with a bunch of caps) because it enables me to give a deeper perspective on something I may not have touched on in the review.

As long as the disagreements are welcoming-which can be dicey on n4g, then the comment section of the review can be a very healthy discussion.
M1chl  +   1024d ago
I agree with this, but I would gave this game like 3/10 at max. Its really a horrible experience from SP perspective and I don't see point in MP, when I could at this time played Bad Company 2.
coolbeans  +   1023d ago
I can't blame anyone for giving the a game a 3. Overall 3.0 scores for FPS' from me generally fall into being more of 'mechanics that don't work' (like that WWII History Channel game) rather than 'unpolished (or underpolished) mechanics' like MoH.
Blacktric  +   1023d ago
" Its really a horrible experience from SP perspective"

I disagree. Singleplayer was short but really great. Especially the way the finale handled. Multiplayer however was and still is a trainwreck. Can't believe DICE made such a crap multiplayer mode that's a cross between Call Of Duty and Battlefield.
Hufandpuf  +   1023d ago
MOH was a 6/10 for me, I really liked how they did the SP, but the graphical flaws really brought down the game, and no to mention the lackluster MP, though enjoyable at times, suffered from bad hit detection, OP weapons, plagued snipers, and no incentive to level up.
ElDorado  +   1022d ago
Respect for actually reviewing this game. You actually took your time writing and I agree with a lot of things you say. I thought the game wasn't bad, but it suffered because of the annoying bugs (a lot of these bugs occur in MP). Like I wanted to play and whenever I spawn, I get killed instantly. I thought it was me or that I just sucked, but after asking around it wasn't my fault at all. Another one is the moment they shoot you, you are done for. This seems pretty realistic, but the game gets stuck. I don't know if these are problems that still haven't been fixed, but a couple months ago they were still there. The support for this game is very poor. The online was just messed up. It had potentional, true. The campaign wasn't spectacular, the map design was very good, but as a player you wouldn't explore the map like you did in Bad Company 2.
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Xenial  +   1020d ago
MOH was a 8.5 at release. After the patches and things that EA did not fix and ruined the population went down a ton. Making the game a 7/10. A 3 or 5 is ridiculous. The story is actually pretty good and the game works.
coolbeans  +   1020d ago
I can't speak on differences before/after patches because I only recently picked this up. Before I state my disagreements, perhaps your view of a seven is the same as my view of a 5. I don't enjoy following the "7 means average" view because it doesn't allow me to submit scores that differentiate between good/great/excellent/exemplary . As stated in some of my other comments (and part of the review), a flat 5.0 is essentially the epitome of average in my opinion, which is what I find the Medal of Honor reboot.

"The story is actually pretty good..."

- Although the game begins and ends with heart-felt poems, the game rarely give the players emotional peaks beyond "no one gets left behind, even if the majority of their dialouge is acronyms and the f word!"

- The Douche-y General I mentioned in the review is completely shoe-horned just for the sake of having another person to hate besides the Taliban. The Tier 1 teams mentioned that we (military intelligence) don't their real numbers; furthermore, suggesting more recon. Like I said before, I've never served in the military; however, anyone who's even looked at a historical war book will know a leader isn't going to lead when there's piles of intel stacked against his/her idea of throwing soldiers into battle blindfolded. Even for a videogame, he was a sad excuse of a 'psuedo-villian'.

+Having said that, I can still respect their script for not trying to capture a Michael Bay moment just for the sake of having it in there.

"...and the game works."

- That's the problem: it just works and that's all it does. Sure, there's nothing that's absolutely broken. There's still plenty of gameplay aspects flawed to the point of it being slightly below average (4.5) in my opinion.
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Elwenil  +   1020d ago
I disagree. I found MoH's story to be one of the better stories of any of the modern shooters this gen. Instead of the horribly old cliche of "you are the hero, you must save the entire world", you get a story that is rooted more in the bond between soldiers in the field. Granted it's a lot of action and conflict for such a short story, but that's a given to keep today's gamers interested. In some ways I think Danger Close did their job too well since they made a game with a mature story that makes a lot of sense but the meaning of it is completely lost on most people with no idea what life is like in the military. It's not about history books, though I can name you several ridiculous tactical follies in history caused by ego, lunacy or simple stupidity. The story is about what the soldier faces and how a lot of decisions made at the top are done for political reasons and not in the best interests of those with boots on the ground. It's about the old saying that when the s*** hits the fan, the only one you can trust is the guy next to you. To me, that's much more interesting than some Hollywood story that glorifies the player as the hero with yet another story where you save the world, the damsel or whatever. Just my .02
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Medal of Honor

Average Score 7.4 Reviews(225)
Release Dates
iPhone Release Dates
PC Release Dates
US 12 October 2010
EU 15 October 2010
AU 14 October 2010
PS Vita Release Dates
PS2 Release Dates
PS3 Release Dates
AU 14 October 2010
EU 15 October 2010
US 12 October 2010
Xbox 360 Release Dates
AU 14 October 2010
EU 15 October 2010
US 12 October 2010