After his smash-hit film Saving Private Ryan in 1998, director Steven Spielberg wanted to ‘expand’ his creative horizons. He turned to videogames, where he, along with EA and Dreamworks Interactive, created the Medal of Honor series that FPS gamers have grown to know and well, did love. After a small team of disgruntled developers left the company and formed ‘Infinity Ward’, the battlefield quickly changed. Medal of Honor soon became stale, as a certain Call to Duty became the FPS king. Once the modern warfare began, Medal of Honor was soon forgotten. It didn’t help the fact that the series was stuck in World War II and that the last release, Medal of Honor: Airborne, was mediocre at best. EA soon realized this and has since moved the series into the current war: the Afghanistan War, which has brought along a mountain on controversy in its wake. In the end, have Danger Close along with the multiplayer madmen at DICE, given birth to the new king of FPS or will this battle for FPS supremacy continue on? Suit-up soldier; it’s time to find out.
EA went about working on the new Medal of Honor a bit differently than in the past. Rather than having one team work on both campaigns for the game, they decided that the developers formerly known as EA LA, Danger Close, would spend their time and resources on single-player while DICE, of Battlefield fame, would take to task on the multiplayer mode, which is their coup de grace. Fantastic idea, right? Well, not exactly. Danger Close used what they knew best, the Unreal 3 Engine, modified from MOH: Airborne, while DICE used their own engine, the Frostbite engine. The problem is that the modes look completely different from one another, but we will get to that later in the review.
Medal of Honor has always been about the single-player experience, delivering a grounded storyline, that could actually take place, unlike some games which feature something out of a Michael Bay blockbuster. Is that a problem in this case? No, not at all. Medal of Honor features a solid single-player campaign and one you should definitely take to task before you divulge into the multiplayer. The storyline likes takes place in the year 2002, during the Afghanistan War, as you take control of 3 different antagonist, as you start playing as an elite Tier 1 Operator, Rabbit. You also take control of Deuce, a Delta 1 operator, and Army Ranger specialist Dante Adams. The storyline’s major focus is on Rabbit and his Tier 1 pals, which makes sense seeing as how an unknown Tier 1 Operator graces the cover of the game’s box art.
Gameplay is classic Medal of Honor warfare, with just a bit of the fast pace of Call of Duty thrown in for good measure. Fans of the series will be happy to hear that major franchise mechanics — the ‘lean’, going ‘prone’ and ‘slide’ — have returned from previous installments. After enjoying use of the slide manuever, it’s going to be hard going back to other FPS and having to run for cover, instead of being able to slide instantly into whatever makes sense as a possible shield from enemy fire. Weapon weight is also very well-balanced, with no notice of a ‘turn lag’ that has plagued various FPS over the past years. When it comes to FPS, having a complicated or messy control scheme will kill the fun in no time. Danger Close, and DICE for that matter, knew this and much to gamers satisfaction, the game controls like a dream.
Though the single-player campaign and gameplay is solid, nicely paced, and full of action — though, there’s a few problems. The first problem is that you could easily beat it in 5 hours or less. Yes, we know the fact that FPS are now more about the multiplayer mode more than ever, but developers need to remember that not everyone is able to spend hours playing online. Also, there is a lack of any type of co-op mode for the single-player.
The graphics are as sweet as can be and it’s hard to believe that the game’s engine is simply a modified and updated build that they used for MOH: Airborne. The team at Danger Close also used their ‘world class’ PS3 developers to lead the way on the PS3 and it shows — even if the PS3 has had it’s fair share of Unreal 3 Engine problems in the past. The character models might look a bit fake in cut-scenes, but environments and special effects rock, that is until you get too close to something. At times textures can be messy along with some blocky looking shadows. While a majority of the graphics are indeed nice, the small details can look low-production for such a AAA game that EA claims Medal of Honor to be.
Enough about the single-player, grabs your gun soldier, as it’s time to discuss the key to any FPS longevity and relevance in the gaming world, the multiplayer mode. EA wasn’t fooling around when they tapped DICE to handle this, even if the modes offer a completely different look and feel can give gamers a sense of disconnect between the two, as the character models, weapons, environments, and what not, have that ‘Battlefield‘ look and feel to them. This isn’t too much of a problem, yet it’s going to throw some gamers for a loop once they jump online to enjoy the multiplayer experience. You also lose the ability to go prone, slide, and lean, so expect a different style of gameplay.
Not to worry though, multiplayer is still a blast to pick-up and play. Gameplay is a mixture of the Battlefield series and with a dash of Call of Duty thrown in for good taste. The only thing the multiplayer is really lacking at the moment is the amount of modes available to partake in which include Team Assault, Sector Control , Objective raid, and my personal favorite, Combat mode.
Longtime Medal of Honor fans will get the most satisfaction out of this modern take on the series, while new fans to the series will most definitely enjoy the games solid single-player campaign and multiplayer mode offerings. For those looking for a more ‘blockbuster’ feel to their FPS, they might want to look elsewhere. Although the game is ‘grounded in reality’, it still has it’s fun and offers a good variety of gameplay moments. For those looking for a good FPS to hold you over until you can join the ‘Black Ops’ come this November, Medal of Honor is a solid start for the series rebirth into the modern war.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
+ Solid campaign gameplay experience.
– However, the single-player campaign is too short.
– Multiplayer modes are lacking.