If you meet the following requirements, then you’ll most likely find enjoyment with Medal of Honor.
- You enjoy military banter and lingo.
- You enjoy missions like Call of Duty 4’s “All Ghillied Up” and Modern Warfare 2’s “Cliffhanger”.
Although it bears a resemblance to Call of Duty 4 and its sequel, this latest/reboot installment of Medal of Honor harkened back to the franchise’s early days. The tone of it reminded of Medal of Honor: Allied Assault and the original Call of Duty. Danger Close favored realism and restraint when it came to the action. It was not the over the top fireworks festival that recent modern day shooters exhibited.
Even on the hardest difficulty, Medal of Honor offered little challenge. The opposing forces behaved like their Modern Warfare 2 counterparts — they bobbed up and down from cover devoid of tactics. But even with the lack of challenge, I took the enemies seriously. I used the running slide into cover. I even used the lean and peek control despite it being incredibly awkward and unwieldy. When the game was trying to immerse me into the experience, I tried hard to play my part.
They tried to keep the screen clutter free by fading out HUD and employing high quality gun models. (Believe it or not, a good looking gun goes a long way in a first person shooter.) But it didn’t take long for things to unravel. Take the HUD for example. I thought a fading HUD was an effort to reduce the number of the “game” elements from the screen, so why did they enable a popup every single time I got a head shot? Wasn’t the splatter noise enough of an indicator?
I wish this misstep was an isolated case, but immersion breaking technical issues crept in as well. They weren’t scripting bugs (I didn’t experience any), I’m referring to the Unreal Engine 3.0 texture pop-ins. And this was with a 3 GB mandatory install. Since when did melted goats roam the mountains of Afghanistan?
So there were holes in the presentation and glitches with tech, but those were it, right? They certainly didn’t cop out and topple over one of their biggest firefights, did they? Of course they did. These clumsy oafs seemed to cut corners whenever it suited them.
Picture the following scenarios.
I spend 10 minutes watching Dusty — the bearded Tier 1 operative on the game cover — carefully open doors and sneak around a small village. He was meticulous in his craft. But as we wrapped up our mission and make our escape, I see these wooden fences fly open on their own and Dusty riding through on his ATV.
Now take this next scenario. Three U.S army rangers and I are pinned in this poor excuse of a house with scores of Taliban raining hell on us. RPGs are destroying all the walls and our tech is desperately calling for help. I hear our ammo situation is getting grim, so I ask for more ammo. They give me 1000 rounds or so. A few seconds later, one of guys proclaim it was all over and told command to ignore our pleas for help because we were out of ammo and were about to be overrun. I continued firing for the rest of the level.
What happened here?
Sloppiness. That’s what. They spend so much time and invest so much energy towards immersing me into a situation, but then ruin it with oversights like these. C’mon. I thought they were serious with this effort?
The only area, which I believe, Danger Close excelled at was the audio. Top notch voice acting and a script, which I found to be very natural and life-like, really hit it that military tone out of the park. As for the sounds of war? Brilliant. I’m tempted to crown it the best in the shooter business. There was a real sense of power behind the weaponry from the sound alone. Bullets fly out following a satisfying thud and the explosions of grenades ring along side the sound of sand raining back down to the ground. Superb attention to detail and execution here.
It was obvious that Medal of Honor could have used a bit more development time. They could have optimized the engine a bit more, found solutions to the oversights and yet I don’t think it’s enough to warrant a full purchase. A rental? Definitely. I enjoyed what I played because of the grounded tone they took. But I also think they took the easy road by relying on age old methods of creating “intense firefights”. I’m fine with the scripted sequences –they helped fulfill that “military fantasy” we FPS lovers all have. I just wished they tried to portray the enemy as a genuine threat instead of a targets at a shooting gallery. Still, like I said, if you enjoy those two items I mentioned earlier, you should find some enjoyment with Medal of Honor. Just don’t expect too much of anything else.
Worth a Try
For more information on Medal of Honor, visit the official site.