Become a bearded, hard-as-nails, Tier 1 operative.
Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, a conflict raged that was to become the setting for the latest FPS from EA, Medal of Honor. But there was the first point of controversy, the conflict was not long, long ago but was firmly placed slap bang in the present day, and was still in effect right now. The war in Afghanistan.
And, as pointed out, this was not the only piece of controversy that was to land on the doorsteps of Medal of Honor’s developers, EALA and DICE. The build up to the game seemed to be plagued with calls for the game to be banned, stating that it was disrespectful to the families of soldiers that had lost their lives in the conflict. The revelation that the player would, in the multiplayer aspect of the game, be able to play as Taliban soldiers and shoot American soldiers only served to push people over the edge and ended in the word “Taliban” being removed.
But I am not one for politics and, in the end, the game was released. I had been promised a gritty and realistic representation of this conflict and I, for one, was looking forward to that.
What we have here is a game of two parts, with the single player campaign having been developed by Danger Close, whilst the multiplayer aspect was created by DICE, famed Battlefield developers.
The campaign has the player taking control of more than one playable character throughout the telling of the story. Each of these characters have their own place in the story and the transitions between them are smooth and relevant, avoiding that jarring feeling when changing from one character to another that can be found in some games. The player begins the game as Rabbit, a member of a group of Tier 1 operatives. These hard-as-nails soldiers take the starring role in this unfolding tale and, although not enough is done in the story to build on the characters, I did find myself bonding with these guys, especially towards the end of the game.
Throughout the campaign, the player will spend a lot of time in frenzied close quarters combat, as one would expect from a modern based FPS. But there are a number of opportunities to get some variety in your FPS diet. Be it manning the guns on a helicopter gunship, marking targets for airstrikes, hurtling through the nighttime desert on a quadbike, or taking out targets from a huge distance with a sniper rifle, the gameplay is varied enough that it doesn’t get old.
A couple of standout moments in the game need, at this point, to be mentioned. When using the sniper rifle, Danger Close have created a great sense of power with the delay between pulling the trigger and the bullet actually making contact. The shooting is done over such a great distance that you find yourself actually holding your breathe as the bullet whizzes through the air and you wait to see if you have made the kill.
Another moment of note, which will stay with me as one of the most intense experiences in a video game that I have experienced, begins with the player being dropped in the middle of a massively active battlefield. With explosions kicking off all around and soldiers dropping like flies everywhere the player looks, the player manages, with three other soldiers, to make their way to an abandoned building. It is here that things seem to go from bad to worse. There are enemies attacking from all sides, the building is crumbling around you and ammunition is running low. The whole scene is absolutely stunning and fills the player with a sense of desperation.
This sense of desperation is amplified by the use of music within the game. FPS games are not generally known for their amazing use of sound, as they mostly only need to concentrate on the noises that guns make and the occasional yell or explosion. But Medal of Honor have done a sterling job. Not only have they managed to replicate the sounds of the battlefield to great effect (as far as I know), but the use of music to set the atmosphere has also been done incredibly well. The speech within the game was worked on with the help of real soldiers, to give the game a more authentic feel, and the voice acting is believable on of a high standard.
The overall package of the single player campaign looks, sounds and plays really well. The only major problem to be found is that it is all over far too quickly. I know the current trend is to concentrate on the multiplayer aspect and provide only a short single player experience. But I really enjoyed these characters and I really wanted to play some more, beyond the five or so hours that this game offers. My only hope is that EA manage to release some single player DLC and don’t concentrate solely on map packs, as other games do.
Tier 1 mode is an interesting addition that will hopefully extend the game for the player. Basically this involves moving through the single player missions under a time limit. The countdown of the timer can be extended if the player manages to pull off headshots or melee kills. The sole purpose of this mode is the chasing of a high score and although it doesn’t add much to the game on the whole, anything extra is nice.
The multiplayer mode, as developed by DICE, offers up only four different modes at the moment, although more modes will be added via DLC with the first being Clean Sweep coming in November. Combining this relative lack of modes with only three classes and limited customisation may well leave the player feeling a bit short changed on the multiplayer front. But the matches are fast and frantic, work really well and are highly enjoyable.
The comparisons to COD are likely to come thick and fast, both for the multiplayer and the single player, with many people claiming COD to be the better game, even before Black Ops is released. I can’t help but feel that this is simply because of the huge fanbase that COD has built up over the years. Had the Medal of Honor franchise started down this route before the emergence of COD, would the reaction have been the same?
As it stands right now, the MoH multiplayer experience is dwarfed by COD online, simply due to the limitations imposed by the relative lack of content. But I found the single player game to be far more compulsive than that of Modern Warfare 2 and I actually find MoH to be more fun to play online. But then, I am not a huge fan of playing COD online.
Medal of Honor may only have a short time in the spotlight, with Black Ops rapidly approaching. But I hope that is not the case and I hope that EA build upon this franchise in a similar way to Activision’s continued support for Call of Duty. At the moment the game is great, but with the addition of more content and a few added features, MoH could take the FPS crown for themselves. Shooter fans should seriously try this game out, but I think it will take a bit more than what is offered to win over the COD fanboys.