Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Medal Of Honor

As people are gearing up for Call Of Duty: Black Ops, Medal of Honor (or Honour depending if you've become completely AmericaniZed or not) tries it's hand at pulling in the Modern Warfare fanbase with it's own take on the current war in the Middle East. Can it rise to the pinnacle of FPS war games that it once held? Or is it still stuck in the past?

Do people remember the original Medal Of Honour games? I remember them with such fond rose-tinted glasses but somewhere along the line it lost it's way. It became preoccupied with just having people move and shoot, move and shoot, rather than giving it some story and the multiplayer went from reasonable to dreadful pretty rapidly. As Medal Of Honour declined, Call Of Duty rose in it's place, once considered the lesser of war FPS's there isn't a soul out there that hasn't heard of it. Where did Medal Of Honour go wrong? Well whatever they did, EA have decided to come back guns-a-blazing and basically copy Call of Duty's Modern Warfare series by bringing everything up to date.

Medal Of Honour takes place in the Middle East where you're basically set missions. It's all American and your mates are called Mother, Preacher and whatever. You play different roles as you jump from one angle of the mission to another but to be honest, I had absolutely no idea what the whole plotline was about. Something about a stupid General giving out crap orders while you're trying to save your own men; this camaraderie anti-authoritarian standpoint seems to be a constant issue in these games. In the sense that, war isn't about politics, in the end it's about the soldiers and they don't WANT to get involved in these fights but they have to, that in games like this you are trying your best just to make it out alive. It's as if they are standing apart from the issues of it all but doing their bit nonetheless - and my God this is trying to be dramatic. The end sequence is a plate of stilton wafting up my nose like nerve gas.

So the story isn't much, but the gameplay must be good right? Well, in a way. There's a lot of helping each other up and waiting for your comrades, which grates after a while and so many niggling points that you can't help but feel it was slightly rushed to get out before Call of Duty. Little points are that sometimes, the enemies will keep coming, which is fine but is a little old hat now, that if you run out of ammo you can ask someone else for it, which is a good point, but you have to equip the right gun which makes it fiddly and sometimes it won't register, an annoying bug if ever I saw one. Other points are there is no RPG action or anything like that, they try some variety by making you shoot from a helicopter, do some hardcore sniping, some stealth action, quad biking, but really it all feels forced and linear. You won't have trouble doing this on the hardest difficulty setting either, the only times I died was through impatience. But then, another annoying aspect is that it can go from being shot to dead very quickly without immediately running for cover. This 'realistic' approach works in a way, but really it's just annoying.

What I loved about Call of Duty is not only the story but the stand-out scenarios and sequences, something that Medal of Honor tries to recreate but in a vain attempt. The cut scenes with you nearing death seem to be quite frequent, to the point where it loses it's emphasis but there are some stand out bits that I really enjoyed. Namely, trying to survive an onslaught in a tiny house in the middle of the desert was amazing, the ambush on your drop-off point and the cut scene where you're in a crashing aircraft were all bloody cool, but really that was it. You also have to have the volume turned up quite loud in order to hear what your team-mates are saying because, annoyingly, they will constantly be telling you what to do. Rarely do you use your second weapon, or even grenades and the entire game was stupidly short. I think I completed it in about 4-5 hours, if that.

So the Campaign aspect wasn't great, but visually it looked incredible, it seems like EA have put style over content so that everything looks incredible rather than concentrating on the stuff that matters - it's the equivalent of a multi-million Hollywood blockbuster that looks amazing but feels as empty as a balloon. So what about the other aspects?

The normal multiplayer game is basically an almost carbon copy of Battlefield but what I hate about it, is that unlike Call of Duty where with enough skill you can still progress and have fun, Medal Of Honor needs you to have a good gun and know where all the good hiding points are. It's basically a sniper's paradise, problem being the learning curve is so steep it'll put a lot of people off. Gamers could argue this that it's worth investing in, that levelling up isn't as tough, but it's seriously not that fun and definitely not as fun as Call of Duty's multiplayer options. I didn't do too badly either, being an FPS master of sorts, but there were too many times where I would just go round a corner and I'm dead or even more annoyingly, I would see someone, shoot them straight for ages, and then he'll shoot me once and I'm dead. It's enough to sling your control to the floor.

The other extra option they have is Tier 1 - a stupid timed way of completing the game that you have to be signed into Xbox Live to do, being on a home network means sometimes my internet can cut out if someone else is using a computer for instance, so just when I'm about to complete a level under par time? I get disconnected and the game quits. All that work for nothing. Fuck. That. That will definitely be the first and last time I play that, and it's really only for completists to show off, definitely not for the casual gamer. EA have also done this thing where you need a VIP pass in order to access some of the online features, so if you bought your game second hand, you won't be able to use the code as it can only be used once. What a stupid idea.

Overall, this has to be the biggest disappointment of the year so far. I enjoyed playing through the short campaign, but the Tier 1 thing is pointless and the multiplayer flawed. It's definitely just a stop gap for a couple of weeks until Call of Duty Black Ops. Play it for something to do, but don't get your hopes up.

Rating: 6/10

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