Electronic Arts latest Medal Of Honor game has received much hype already – this is a big franchise which has always sold well. The latest title has the series removed from World War 2 into the present day, within the conflict in Afghanistan. A portion of the press have been angry to point out that multiplayer mode offers the player choice of taking a Taliban soldier … a game aspect which hasn’t been warmly received. What about the plethora of games featuring Nazi’s though? How quickly things are forgotten.
The single player campaign clearly wishes to focus on delivering a realistic representation of those people still fighting in the real campaign but the game isn’t a complete success. The developers have successfully shown respect to the forces, but the characters in the game are really very two dimensional and lacking any kind of personality. The presentation is high but the story does not focus on a core group of people or fictional characters – I found very little to like or care about, caused by the developers lackluster story and character build up.
The gameplay is solid but nothing new on any level, because although you can take multiple characters throughout the duration of the game, there is very little offered which is different. Specific characters get certain weaponry at their disposal but they all act and move the same. Thankfully each character has a core group of allies who at least initiate some feeling of being in a different skin.
While we admire the daring move from World War 2 into the heart of Afghanistan this causes one of the games most obvious limitations. The environmental locations are extremely similar throughout. The entire game is based in one region which obviously means on a graphical level you won’t get treated to jungles, then desert, then city wide assaults. Sure, half way through you move from dirt to snow, but it still feels sadly familar. Maybe it sounds like im picking holes, but this is a game and while many might love the fact it is geographically accurate, it sure as hell doesn’t sate my gamer taste buds to be running through dirt for multiple hours.
While I have yet to play the PC version, The Playstation 3 version has an abundance of texture pop in, which can often be delayed by several seconds when the levels have first loaded. I even noticed it during the engine driven cut scenes which was annoying. I can’t fault the games movement, as all the characters animate realistically. I also noticed some glitches when AI controlled allies would act in an unusual way and run around the environment in a completely non realistic manner. After dying and restarting they would then act correctly, which makes me assume that there are some AI bugs also still in the finished product, which is disappointing to note. Another month of playstesting and bug squashing would surely have sorted this. I would expect a patch within the first month of release.
The Single player game is not a failure, I enjoyed some of the levels and there are some fantastic key set pieces which remain in my memory. I don’t want to ruin these for you, but rest assured, there are several mega ‘MOH’ moments as there have been in all the games in this franchise. Even though the environments are not that diverse in design, the game does allow you to take control of various weaponry and I loved the on rails helicopter mission which I replayed several times as I enjoyed it that much. There is nothing as satisfying as wiping out forces from the air.
The game took me around 8 hours to complete, which by today’s standards is pretty good. Overall I thought the single player campaign was fun, even if it lacked a bit of character connection.
The online elements are hard to rate right now as my copy was received before launch and there were a plethora of server issues. I did manage to play a few hours online and it wasn’t too bad. This element of the game incidentally is created by DICE – Battlefield creators. While the online element is pretty well handled, I feel that Bad Company 2 is a superior game. You can take three classes which max out at level 15. There is a Sniper, A rifleman and a special operations. The progression is slow but they do throw new weapons and accessories from time to time. There is no shortage of maps and game modes which means, even if it isn’t the best online experience, you will assuredly find a single mode which will prove entertaining. I quite liked the King Of The Hill mode (Domination).
Medal Of Honor is an entertaining game, which while a little bland by location design offers a solid single player experience. Unfortunately the online experience has to compete against Bad Company 2 and other AAA titles on the market today and we think it is going to have a hard time getting gamers from this audience to switch over. A little more character development with enhanced storyline would also have helped create a gamer connection. Overall however I enjoyed the game quite a bit and feel if you are a fan of the MOH games that this will offer 8-10 hours of fun single player gaming.