Medal Of Honor PC Review

The first person shooter genre is has always been a crowded market. Lately the newest scenarios for fire-fights seem to be based around present day warfare. Even though there have been games before that have had this setting, it wasn’t until Call of Duty: Modern Warfare arrived that the modern day military setting became such a big thing.

It’s kind of strange that it has taken EA quite so long to jump on board and have a stab at the modern era with a serious war franchise. Back in 1999 EA released the first Medal of Honor game. It ended up becoming the ignition for kicking off the World War 2 obsession. This was due to the game highlighting that World War 2 could make for some very interesting and amazing gameplay situations. It became so popular that the first person shooter genre was getting to the point where it was saturated in World War 2 shooters.

Back to the year 2010, where EA are trying to reboot the franchise by moving it away from World War 2. Instead of simply making up a story and using real life weaponry. EA opted to take a bold move and use the current real life conflict that is happening in Afghanistan between the Allied Forces and the Taliban. Its inspiration is mainly based on Operation Anaconda of the Afghan war.
If you have seen any of the trailers or adverts for Medal of Honor then you’ll know that EA have been highly promoting the elite group of soldiers called Tier 1. These soldiers are mainly used for missions that are of great importance. A quick description on the official website says “They are living, breathing, precision instruments of war. They are experts in the application of violence.” So basically it means they have a PhD in combat efficiency.

Two teams helped develop Medal of Honor. The developers at Danger Close were solely focused on the single player. DICE (of Battlefield fame) on the other hand were selected to help create Medal of Honor’s online multiplayer.

Taking place over the span of two days. The single player component of Medal of Honor can feature both great and dull situations over the game’s six hour campaign. There’s no plot as such, it’s a war, therefore you’re given orders by a general who talks to your commander from the safety of a video call. He feeds instructions to your leader, which in turn always ends up been the wrong choice. Incorrect decisions  end up putting the player in situations where all hell breaks loose against you and your fellow soldiers.

This is basically what Medal of Honor turns into. It’s a game that tries to illustrate the player how courageous you would have to be to fight in the Middle Eastern conflict. It’s these scripted scenes that are the highlight of the single player experience.

For example the start of one of the later missions you have to recover a small team of SEALs, who have been held hostage by the Taliban. Beginning with soldiers chatting to each other inside a Chinook helicopter, the moment is spoiled when gunfire is heard and bullets start piercing through the Chinook and then “BOOM”, an RPG blasts directly at the helicopter, causing it to spiral out of control and crash land into a mountainous desert.

What follows is an all out rush of Taliban armed forces heading straight for your crash site. Your small squad is out numbered in the middle of nowhere trying to secure a foothold to survive. It’s a very adrenaline filled moment and there’s a few of these instances throughout the game.

Despite the well done scripted sections and different character perspectives (3 different soldiers and a helicopter gunner) the rest of the game steps into familiar territory. Players simply move from point A to point B through linear pathways. Since some of the battles take place in huge mountain ranges or dusty shanty towns, it would have been nice to be able to explore a bit more. Instead if you decide to go for a wander you are met with a face full of invisible walls.

Modern Warfare 2 also did the same idea with the walls to make sure the player was kept on the right track. While Medal of Honor might look very familiar to Activison’s blockbuster hit, it has an atmosphere that feels true to life due to the setting, characters and the situations that you’ve heard of due to the Afghan war. This gives you a vision in your mind that this is happening and isn’t something that you could class as exaggeration.

Something that brought me out of the experience are the bugs I suffered while playing the PC version. One point I got stuck on a piece of broken plane wing. I was on top of the wreckage and fell down to continue following an NPC. I ended up landing behind this wing that was lying on the ground and I couldn’t move. The thing is that there wasn’t anything around me that could actually stop me moving. I should have been able to move but instead invisible walls had popped up obstructing my progress. I had to solve this problem by reloading an older save file.

There are also a couple of instances with NPCs that I had problems with as well. At one point one of them was suppose to kick down a door. At first I thought I was supposed to, but there was nowhere to activate the kick. It turned out that the A.I had jammed. Again a simple reload solved the problem but these are mistakes that shouldn’t be there. It felt a little rushed, as if to make sure it met the holiday season.

Moving onto DICE’s online multiplayer piece, you instantly feel somewhat familiar with how the game works. My first impression of jumping into a match and seeing the animation and feel of the weapons was “Bad Company 2”. It’s a natural thing to think of since Medal of Honor uses the same Frostbite technology as DICE’s other shooter, but the destruction has been restricted to chips off walls rather than whole buildings blowing up. I guess they wanted to differentiate the two games.

The best explanation for the multiplayer is that it is a smaller, no vehicles, Bad Company inspired version of Modern Warfare. The shrink in map size certainly ups the action. There’s never a moment where you’re trying to find someone to shoot in the game’s twelve-a-side matches.

Content-wise there are only four game types. Team Assault (team deathmatch), Sector Control (flag capture), Objective Raid (attack/defend) and Combat Mission. Combat Mission is based on taking over 5 sections on a map, each having to be captured before moving onto the next. The idea is how fast the Coalition forces can take over sections without running out of the limited respawns on offer. It’s a mode that can be highly frustrating sometimes as it seems you are always pounded by opposition fire, because of the really small vicinity you are in. Being successful gives you a feeling of achieving something.

A real pain in the arse is when you have a team of snipers on the opposition. A sniper shot basically kills you in one hit. There were plenty of times where I was constantly getting camped by the same sniper. There’s nothing you can do as the game doesn’t alert you to where he is. There’s no after-death kill-cam of the guy who shot you. After death you respawn and have to prey you somehow see him before he puts another bullet in you, which is what usually happens. It can get beyond stupid sometimes. There are rumours that the next patch will reduce some of the overpowering snipers and also add new maps and game modes, so hopefully snipers won’t become that much of a dominance in the future.

Instead of having a simple experience system for your character like Modern Warfare does, Medal of Honor splits the characters into three classes. These three classes start out at level 1 and earn experience to level up to a max rank of 15, making this a total of 45 levels. Unlocking higher levels allows players to be able to access new items or weapons to use. These are all specific to that class and cannot be swapped between them. All the Unlocks are something you’ll have seen from Modern Warfare. New guns, scope upgrades, silencers etc. Kill streaks also net you special moves such as mortar strikes and air strikes, although these are based on the amount of points you gain instead of how many kills.

Between the single player and multiplayer it’s somewhat noticeable that a different team worked on each aspect. Some features from the single player, like a prone stance, are absent from the multiplayer.

Most of your time will be spent in the multiplayer mode as this has more staying power than replaying the campaign. A special mode unlocks as you progress in the campaign called Tier 1, which is a harder version of the game with added time attack. Doing well will place you on the global scoreboard, which shows the best players in the world and how you match up to them. This isn’t as good as shooting a few dudes in the head mind you.

The question undoubtedly on everyone’s mind is will the game have a huge community? For starters it has to find its players from somewhere. Bad Company and Modern Warfare 2 have their fair share of followers. Also Call of Duty: Black Ops is out in a couple of weeks and that game seems to be jam packed with more multiplayer modes than you can shake a stick at. The answer isn’t a simple one, only time will tell if people will stick with it. One thing for sure though is that the multiplayer doesn’t feel like a direct copy and paste of other games.

On the PC system the game looks terrific when you have the settings all maxed out. It features some detailed textures and great use of lighting to successfully implement vivid environments. Anyone who has played Battlefield: Bad Company 2 will know how the sound is. The sound effects are very effective in representing the weapons and recoils you’d expect to hear from them. The soundtrack is also respectable at setting the scenes and fuelling the emotion of the on the screen action.

Medal of Honor might not have the greatest campaign or the longest one. At points it can be thrilling and at times it can be dull, but at least it contains a decent experience, if a little flawed. It won’t be remembered for breaking any moulds in the first person shooter genre and probably won’t spark up everyone’s enthusiasm since it’s not as good as Modern Warfare 2. Instead Medal of Honor should be looked at as an alternative to the hyperactive Call of Duty series and be played by people who want to have a more reasonable interpretation of a military experience.

7/10

by

Version tested: PC, PS3,Xbox 360

Developer: Danger Close, Digital Illusions CE

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Genre: First Person Shooter