The modern setting just got better.
In Medal of Honor, brotherhood is an unspoken bond of trust and companionship through acts of honor where failing to leave a soldier behind isn’t an option and risking one’s life for the fate of another is common. The idea of brotherhood created Medal of Honor’s storyline, and it is the best storyline I have ever played in a tactical FPS thus far. Just like any FPS fan, I too become overly ecstatic about this genre: I can talk hours upon hours about it, give you my critical opinions down to exquisite detail, and discuss creative and strategic ways to deceive opponents online. And so, I wasn’t expecting much out of Medal of Honor considering how popular titles like Modern Warfare 2 have already set a nearly untouchable standard for the FPS genre, and I couldn’t foresee any title that was able to compete with that.
[image1]However, none have captured a story which is deep enough to really connect the player to the game’s storyline... until now. Although incredibly short, MoH’s campaign is done well and that’s an understatement. You play three different roles: Rabbit and Deuce, who are Tier 1 operatives, and Dante Adams, who is an Army Ranger. Usually, players are not able to become attached to the characters when the protagonist switches too many times and too quickly. But here, it works because it follows the concept of brotherhood mentioned above, covering what other popular shooters are missing in their campaign: a theme and the consistency of building a story around that theme.
Furthermore, you’re thrown into a variety of scenarios. Everything that you could possibly imagine that takes place in a war is in MoH’s single-player campaign, such as being ambushed by waves of enemies or being nearly obliterated by a hidden bomb. And what would you do if you jumped out of a helicopter and only had your knife as a weapon? It’s full of intense action through and through—enough that you don’t want to put the controller down.
Second, the game’s details are remarkable: Dust from the ground spits up from bullet fire, strobes continuously flash on your teammate’s shoulder when you switch to night-vision indicating who is a friendly, and even the sound of gunfire is different depending on where you are. Inside a wrecked plane, the bullets from a light machine gun has a tin-like sound with a subtle echo. Little details like these make you feel like you’re in a realistic battle.
Another feature that emphasizes realism is the communication between you and your AI teammates. Throughout the story, you’re directly spoken to and you’re given orders without any abrupt pop-up hints of where to go next. You’ll hear things like, “Rabbit, take the path at your six…” and “Go loud on Rabbit”, indicating what your next move should be. This is extremely effective since you learn to listen closely as well as learn how to be part of a team, making you much more involved in the combat.
[image2]If you feel that you’re better going off solo, then you will find that Medal of Honor is not built for Rambo fanatics; instead, it’s built on continuous teamwork. If you choose to leave your squad and not follow through with the orders you’re given, most of the time you will die and fail the mission.
Once you finish the campaign, Tier 1 mode is unlocked, where you aim to beat a level within a given time. That’s not all: There aren’t any checkpoints, so if you die, you start over; health regenerates slower; auto-aim assist and weapon’s crosshairs are disabled; and you cannot resupply on ammo from your allies. And need I emphasize the time limit? If you execute “skill kills”, like headshots and melee kills, then the clock temporarily stops. If the level is completed successfully, you earn a spot on the global leaderboards.
Despite how amazing the story is, there are several flaws in its gameplay. There are few texture problems where some buildings or environments take time to load while AI characters, who are standing in place, shift abruptly. As for the AI, my teammates at times ran into my line of fire—I promise I was not actually shooting them. And the enemy AI is not much of a concern as they are terribly predictable. In turn, they do become challenging to fight against on certain levels where they attack in groups or waves. My AI teammates despite being drawn to my line of fire are also very effective in killing the enemy without any of my help.
Medal of Honor’s minor weakness is its multiplayer. There are five different modes, three of which are objective-based: capturing and defending different points on the map. The other two consists of team deathmatch and hardcore. And let's not even go through the whole Taliban/Opposing Forces thing, or this review will never end.
Just like single campaign, teamwork is crucial especially in objective games, like Objective Raid, where your goal is to defend two bases from the opposing team who has a goal to arm it and destroy it. In order to defend both bases, your team must spread out or the match could end in less than a minute. The one thing I both love and hate about this mode is how unpredictable it is: if a team could successfully destroy both bases, the round could end in 50 seconds, but if defended well, it could last 5 minutes. It all depends on how effective the teamwork is.
[image3]The gameplay itself is entertaining especially considering that several playlists offer up to 24 players, but just like the game modes, the maps lack variety. There are eight in total and they feature valleys, mountains, and marketplaces, which more or less look the same to me, and they all feature a monochromatic scenery, making the maps rather bland. I couldn’t understand how the single campaign has such diverse terrain with colorful scenery while the maps in multiplayer do not.
However, not all is lost. The environment does prove useful. You are able to use specific objects, such as crates to jump on and surprise the enemy on the other side. You can also reduce walls to rubble and create your own doorway in certain buildings through explosives. There are three classes: Riflemen, Special Ops, and Sniper. You unlock more weapons and customization options depending on what class you use the most, so if your specialty is being a riflemen and not a sniper, you won’t have to worry about unlocking sniper rifles or attachments; instead, you have the option to build your riflemen class.
When you achieve a certain amount of points, either through killing or completing objectives, a scorechain builds and you’re presented with the option of enabling an offensive support action or a defensive one. If you die, though, the level resets. The first scorechain level allows you to choose between a mortar strike and a UAV. Use a mortar strike to clear the way to an objective or a UAV to spot enemies on the radar if you feel they are sneaking up on you and your team. It’s a great way to control how you want to play either defensively or offensively. It also provides an unpredictable dynamic as you don’t know what kind of support action your opponent is going to use.
Like I said in the beginning, I wasn’t expecting much out of Medal of Honor, but I was more than satisfied. While the multiplayer has its cons, it definitely has potential to be built into something more and I wouldn’t be surprised if downloadable content releases soon. The single-player campaign is enough to hold anyone through a gripping story with non-stop and fast-paced action and a trio of compelling characters. I should also mention that MoH is dedicated to America’s servicemen and I think it’s a job well done, no matter what the military bases say. Medal of Honor is one game you should be playing and one game that is now in competition with the rest.