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Medal of Honor PS3 Beta Impressions

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I am quite aware that this is a beta. Medal of Honor launches October 12, 2010 which means they have lots of time to work out the kinks. But, I believe the issues I have with this game are a bit deeper than the occasional freeze or jagged edge.

Medal of Honor’s multiplayer is DICE’s approach to the Modern Warfare formula. On paper: this sounds awesome. It’s Bad Company 2 meets Modern Warfare 2. The best of both worlds in one awesome reboot of a beloved franchise. However, as soon as I got into my first game, something didn’t seem right at all.

The first issue I noticed was the HUD; this game has a very poor HUD. Nothing is particularly easy to read quickly and seemed to be of a flash over substance design. This is, but a small example of the much bigger problem of communication in this game — between other players (the option for VOIP was defaulted to off) and between the game and myself. The game simply doesn’t convey the necessary info in a clear or concise fashion. The clear text “+10” from Bad Company 2 was replaced with blurry text accompanied by some silly explosion-flash-thing which just gets in the way of the action — it’s just unnecessary for something so trivial as a kill via headshot.

Meanwhile, the “Tactical Support Actions” rewards seemingly go uncelebrated. It took me awhile to notice that I could pull up the UAV. Modern Warfare 2 does a fantastic job of notifying the player they’ve got something. “Predator missile ready for deployment.” “UAV standing by.” These little quips go a long way. None of that was apparent in Medal of Honor.

It seemed like the audio as a whole was a step back compared to Bad Company 2. Perhaps the “War Tapes” option in that game spoiled me, but it’s more than the lack of war ambiance. It’s the absence of audio cues for points accumulation, the lack of audio umph in the weaponry and the lack of fanfare for the end of a round. Most of these are tiny touches, but if DICE expects people drop their current shooters for this, they’ve got to get the fine details right.

From a graphical perspective, Medal of Honor is a step up compared to Bad Company 2. However, it does not hold a candle to Modern Warfare 2 in its current form. The two maps in the demo were rather large maps, but they did not seem to warrant a 30 FPS experience with this level of graphical fidelity. It doesn’t even feature the Destruction 2.0 of the Frostbite engine, so it really made me wonder. Granted, this is early, and they could make it look substantially better, but I have my doubts.

I envisioned Medal of Honor’s multiplayer as a focused team based shooter with destructibility, less emphasis on vehicles and more closed quarters infantry combat (think Arica Harbor Conquest). Instead, I played a poor man’s Call of Duty 4 (not as many kill streak rewards going on). It does have 24 players on the map, but I never got the sense of that. There were no squad support to speak of, so we couldn’t split up and cover certain areas of the map or area. It seems like DICE did have destructibility in mind at some point with how they mapped the explosives weapon to L2. I can pull out RPG/AT4 launchers really quickly in this game and since they’re relatively tame with the splash damage, it seemed like it would have been far more useful as a quick “destroy that wall” option. Sadly this wasn’t the case.

Although there isn’t much recoil to speak of when firing weapons, I did have a tougher time taking out people. I was seeing  hit markers, but it was taking a bit too long to down someone. It’s definitely not kill on first sight like Modern Warfare 2. Whether or not that’s a good thing or a bad thing is a matter of preference. I didn’t have much of a problem with it, it’s something I could get used to with time. Just like the rest of the shooting mechanic.

My brother was wondering if he should try the Medal of Honor multiplayer beta, here was my response:

“You wouldn’t like it. Why? You won’t like it because it’s not similar enough to Modern Warfare 2 — just like how I don’t like it because it’s not similar enough to Bad Company 2”.

What could have been a happy middle ground is instead a disappointing amalgamation of design philosophies complicated by the desire to be different for sake of being different. I think I’m just better off playing one or the other.

Or perhaps I should try Black Ops. I hear Treyarch is putting up quite the fight this year.

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