Medal of Honor Campaign Mode
Maybe we tend to forget it, but the modern FPS genre would probably be different from what it is today without the Medal of Honor franchise. It used to be a forerunner back in the days when the genre was far from being on a roll on gaming consoles, since it was released on the first Playstation. We all discovered an action game that used the first-person perspective and offered a truly cinematic experience. It was also a clear nod to Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan, which used to be a reference World War 2 movie in those days. The franchise quite logically progressed to the Playstation 2, Xbox and PC platforms (among others) with an ever unquestionable success. In the meantime, another franchise was being prepared in Activision's territory. The Infinity Ward studio was in charge of the development part, under the lead of EA deserters who had actually worked on Dreamworks Interactive’s game. Since the launch of HD consoles, players now only have eyes for the Call of Duty series. An explanation may be found with the last two games of the franchise Infinity Ward released: both were set in a more modern in-game context and both had sensational success. The Airborne episode was given a cold welcome in 2007, so the people at EA eventually considered the real necessity to set their fetish franchise in modern war contexts. Doing so, they were ready to risk their series being a copycat rather than the model it used to be. Some may say this role reversal is legitimate, but the question is: is this attempt to reboot the series likely or not to appeal the players today? Find the answer in our review of the single player mode and the related videos.
Needless to beat around the bush about it, Medal of Honor has two direct drawbacks that really hamper the experience: the playing time of the campaign mode is very limited – think 4 or 5 hours to beat the campaign, even in the highest difficulty setting – and more importantly, there is a blatant lack of inspiration regarding the situations we are invited to play through. It is indeed hard not to have a fierce impression of déjà vu when following up the adventures of some soldiers who land in the middle of Afghanistan. Everything seen in this Medal of Honor release seems like it comes directly from the Modern Warfare series. The point is not to question the various qualities of EA’s game, but it is difficult not to feel disappointed that development studio Danger Close decided to be this unadventurous. It is granted that Infinity Ward proved at each release how successful the recipe can be among fans of the genre. However, we think it is probably a bit risky to decide not to be a little more original and offer actual added value compared to the other games of the genre.
In Medal of Honor, we are given the opportunity to play three different characters. Each of them belongs to a very specific team. Rabbit and Deuce are Tier 1 soldiers – elite troops under Special Forces authority. Players will spend most of their gaming time following both of them. As for Adams, he is part of the Rangers corps and he obviously also has reasons to deal with the local rebels. Danger Close wanted their game to be more realistic than the Modern Warfare series. So there are some struggling attempts at creating a connection between the player and their teammates and what happens to them. This results in a few cut scenes – using the game engine or not – that introduce a story that is quite trivial in the end, besides the difficulty to feel really concerned about it. Progress forward, kill, survive… This is pretty much all you need to know about the world of American soldiers in the Middle East.
As we said at the beginning of the article, contrary to the country in which the adventure takes place, the gameplay is definitely no unknown territory for the seasoned wargame-inclined, fatigue-wearing players. The game switches from quieter moments that require utmost discretion to more action-packed phases. However, none of these offer any actual surprise. Aside from that, players will obviously find ways to satisfy themselves with the weapons that are available. They will enjoy simple things such as lying down and low on a slope, eliminating targets standing a few miles away. They will also feel the adrenaline rush as they are asked to hold a siege or as they escape from an army of enemy soldiers, dodging their bullets and gunning down all followers. Or attempting to.
In the game, it is possible to skid or slide your way into cover. This is a very good idea that enables players to perform some stunning action moves, which is actually possible here contrary to Modern Warfare, in which remaining uncovered for more than 2.12 seconds results in certain death in the highest difficulty levels. But from an overall point of view, the game lacks in the originality department, resulting in an unshakable impression of déjà vu. Fortunately, we have to admit the handling is very effective: the aiming is pleasant and precise, and we recommend you to disable the aiming assist in order to fully appreciate it. The fights are peppy enough to hold you spellbound. The adventure, though short, gets more intense as you progress further. Do not expect anything too close to those Bruckheimer-like blockbuster moments seen in Modern Warfare though. One more thing in the "shooting" gameplay department, the developers made a peculiar and arguable decision by making it impossible to be short on ammo, since your teammates will always have anything you may need to reload your weapons.
The game is not just about running through Afghan mountains and dodging bullets. Players will also have the opportunity to use some vehicles, and choose between flat out driving and all out death making, with guns… or something bigger. Whether on the ground or in the air, players will notice an effort to bring some novelty to the adventure that occurs quite frequently. However, once again, it is all too classical. Moreover, some of these situations are staged in a way that lacks the intensity one would expect from such a game, which is a shame.
For example, the driving model of the quad bike is not interesting and does not provide much in terms of sensations. But somehow, this is arguably always the case with four wheeled vehicles in FPS games – except for Halo games. The helicopter moments are quite pleasant since players are given the command over heavy weapons, and they offer quite successful experience from a visual point of view – except for some framerate drops and the disappointing visuals used for explosions. However, these moments spent above sea level do not really offer much in the end. Players will also be required to indicate a number of targets prior to allied aerial attacks, which is once again downright classical. Medal of Honor is like the beginner’s guide for soldiers who fly towards places of modern conflicts, wearing fatigues and ignoring the clicks.
From a technical point of view we can say once again that the former master does not manage to perform as well as the current reference. First reason is because it does not share the 60 frames per second figure of its competitor. Second reason is because the visuals are certainly less appealing than in a Call of Duty game. Now, that being said, some environments are rendered in a photo-realistic way, which promises some pleasant surprises. Moreover, some of the levels take place during daytime, and they benefit from the use of nice lighting effects that enhance the atmosphere in a great way.
To top that, the soundtrack is matched to the pace of the game, and it retains this cinematic feel that used to be the trademark of the franchise since its early years. The music enhances the drama of some scenes, which makes players regret there aren’t many alike. We can congratulate EA on their work on the sound effects of the game. Fortunately, they make up for the rather poor explosion effects (graphics wise), especially when we are used to those in Battlefield: Bad Company 2, released by the same publisher.
However, things are much worse when it comes to the numerous bugs and glitches that occurred when we played the game. Some scripts would just not launch in an absolutely random manner. Some characters would remain stuck on their quad bikes, and would refuse to get off in order to continue the mission. Sometimes the whole team would even refuse to move forward despite the zone being clear, and the list goes on. A few more development weeks could have certainly helped. It would have been much more convenient for players, since in its current state, we found ourselves reloading our last save and cross fingers so the glitch would not happen again. Let’s hope a patch will be offered rapidly in order to get rid of these irritating issues.
Medal of Honor remains a good and entertaining action game. However, because of the total play time of its single player mode, we cannot recommend it to players who are not interested in multiplayer gaming. There are very few reasons to play through the missions again after beating the campaign mode, even with the presence of the Tier 1 mode, which consists in beating each mission of the main story in a given time, with some actions freezing the clock for a few seconds. That said, I must admit that I didn’t experience a bad gaming moment with this latest episode of the franchise, even when I had to play the campaign twice for the review, once in medium difficulty, and the second time in hard mode. Despite not being a great game or a must have, Medal of Honor is not a bad game either, provided players will turn a blind eye on the fact it is a genuine copy of the Modern Warfare series, which entails inevitable imperfections. We can wonder why EA wanted to create a toned down clone of Activision’s franchise, while Battlefield: Bad Company – which managed to retain a specific identity despite being set in a modern context – is among their successful games. We can notice that a success similar to that of Dead Space – which enhanced all its inspiration sources – isn’t to be taken for granted.
About the game
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