In the past, the Medal of Honor franchise dominated the first person shooter genre, providing an addictive multiplayer with a compelling singleplayer story arc. The latest iteration brings the theater of war to the worn-torn sands of Afghanistan. Is it mission accomplished for this reboot? Or is this invasion to your console ill-advised?
For the first time in 11 years, Medal of Honor has left the WWII theatre and instead has opted to cover the familiar, yet controversial war in Afghanistan. Players are thrown into the role as a Tier 1 Operator, an elite warrior and relatively unknown instrument of the U.S Military that operates under the National Command Authority to take on missions no one else will. Even in the beginning of the singleplayer it’s apparent that developers Danger Close wanted to put a particular emphasis on realism. The problem with this approach is that to achieve this adequately you need to have a certain level of polish, and Medal of Honor’s singleplayer doesn’t have it. The graphics are subpar in some spots while stunning in other instances. Graphically, the lighting effects are Medal of Honor’s Achilles heel. Shadows are grainy, and the lighting in general just looks poor. The sound design in general is phenomenal. The chatter between soldiers is fantastic and when combined with the other effects make for a very immersive experience.
The Medal of Honor franchise has always had a big emphasis on story so it’s disappointing for me to report that it’s poorly constructed. During the first few hours it had a lot of potential; however poor pacing and rampant clichés prevent it from being anything other than a way to progress gameplay. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have its moments. Medal of Honor features some awesome set pieces that are unique to this title, such as the ability to lay waste in a chopper. It’s these moments that are the saving grace to Medal of Honor’s singleplayer. A lot of criticism has been leveled at EA for setting Medal of Honor in Afghanistan; however it’s clear for the most part that Medal of Honor is a tribute to the war rather than a shameless cash-in. This is even more apparent at the end of the game where they have a long text scene praising the troops. The singleplayer will run anywhere from 4-7 hours of playtime.
The multiplayer for Medal of Honor was handled by fabled developer of the Battlefield series DICE. This component, much like the singleplayer is also hit and miss. Players have the option to pick from 3 different classes; however each load-out for every class is handled poorly. For instance, why do I have to level up several times to unlock a decent scope for a sniper rifle? This is a huge oversight, and a poorly implemented feature. I should not have to unlock a scope for my sniper rifle for any reason. As a developer you want to add features, not take them away and then give them back only to pass them off as an unlockable. Not only is it foolish to do from that standpoint, but it also leads to new players being at a severe disadvantage when they start. Fortunately the rest of the unlockables don’t stoop to this low level, despite in most instances being nothing more than padding. Despite these shortcomings, along with some technical issues the multiplayer aspect is a lot of fun. Medal of Honor doesn’t play like your typical shooter and this may be part of the reason people aren’t receptive to it. Forget the run and gun gameplay of Call of Duty, because Medal of Honor is much more tactical. Player’s can and will camp.
Immediately I expect players to cry fowl, however personally I don’t have a problem with this approach as long as the game is designed with these mechanics to begin with. Players are forced to slowly and methodically progress across the map, especially in the objective based game modes. This is a refreshing approach to the shooter market, however if you hate players that camp than you may want to pass on Medal of Honor. There’s a decent variety of maps and game modes that should keep players happy for the months to come.
PS3 owners are treated to an even sweeter package with the addition of a re-mastered version of the popular PS2 title Medal of Honor: Frontline, along with a beta invitation to the Battlefield 3 beta. This is an awesome addition to a solid package, making the title easily worth $60. Medal of Honor is a solid reboot to the series. Despite some obvious shortcomings in multiplayer and a lack of polish in the singleplayer it’s an easy recommendation to FPS fanatics.