Thursday, 25 November 2010

Medal of Honor review

Medal of Honor is known for it's blockbuster tales of World War Two. But now the industry has changed, and gamers have grown tired of the same setting again and again. Aware of this, EA decided to shake things up a bit and introduce an all new Medal of Honor, contemporary and bad ass, in hopes of replicating the success of a certain other series which needs no introduction, Call of Duty. The trailers promised explosions, beautiful graphics and intense gameplay. And they keep their promises... Sort of.

The first thing you'll notice when you play Medal of Honor is the character movement. Slow and sluggish, no sense of urgency. This isn't a negative point however. Medal of Honor was created by the developers working with soldiers, in order to recreate the harsh realities of modern wars. The soldiers would be slow and sluggish, burdened by a huge amount of gear. It's a more realistic representation of war than Call of Duty. The enemies are ruthless and somewhat smart, and often outnumber you and your team, using a wide arsenal to try and bring you down. The guns are varied but it's hard to pick a favourite. There was not enough to differentiate between each weapon and therefore any weapon you could find would do the job. There is also no need to switch weapons as your teammates have a seemingly limitless supply of ammo which they will give to you on request. This vastly reduces the difficulty, with a few exceptions which see your character isolated from the allies.

These don't happen very often but when they do the game really shines. A level late in the game sees your character leap from a falling helicopter, in the middle of the night. Landing on a cold mountain with only a knife, your character limps, coughs up blood and his night vision optics flicker from the damage. Beautiful moments like this are few and far between which is a real shame. They show what the game could have been with more thought and time. There also isn't much time for anything to happen as an experienced FPS player can complete the game in less than 5 hours. Far too short for a franchise reboot.

The game does have some impressive set pieces and levels but nothing life changing. One sequence sees you and a large group of soldiers in a Chinook helicopter, when suddenly it is attacked. The game turns slow motion as bodies fly from side to side, then up to hit the ceiling of the copter, before slamming back down. All the while bullets are tearing through the fuselage, ripping through your friends. It sounds impressive on paper but seeing it in motion is really an experience that you need first hand. If the game had more of these well thought out and scripted set pieces, it would have been a serious contender for FPS of the year, but unfortunately it does not.

The graphics of Medal of Honor are hard to pin down. Sometimes you will be awestruck with the incredible looking character models and scenery. The graphics are smooth, detailed and wonderful to look at. Other times however, and they are somewhat embarrassing. Cast your eyes to the walls and floors on certain levels and you will see a blurry, pixelated mess. In the end, they are only walls and floors, and do not detract from the gameplay, but they do show a lack of polish and commitment to the game. The character models always stay amazing though, and they are obviously much more important than the textures on the floor.

The multiplayer on Medal of Honor was developed by a completely different studio than the one that worked on the campaign. The multiplayer is made by DICE, of Battlefield fame. This fact alone makes the game more enticing. Unfortunately though, the online play is not so great. All of what makes the recent Bad Company games so great is gone. No destruction, no vehicles, only a small selection of weapons and an odd levelling system make the multiplayer quite dull and uninteresting. Some gamers will obviously like the slower pace and lack of complex classes and perks from Call of Duty, but the majority will not. There's a reason they all go back year after year.

Overall, Medal of Honor is definitely worth a try. The campaign has some amazing moments, but not enough to say that this is a franchise reboot, bringing Medal of Honor into the 21st Century. For a first attempt at a new setting and whole overall style though, it's a commendable effort. A sequel is hinted at very strongly, which is great news. Hopefully Danger Close and EA will listen to the criticism and thoughts of this game, to make a truly kick ass follow up worthy of the Medal of Honor name.


by Louis Gardner

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