The first person shooter landscape is the most highly contested category of traditional video games. With the growing popularity of Call of Duty, Activision's rival publisher Electronic Arts has seen fit to launch a multi-pronged attack on their competitor's large market share. Medal of Honor, co-developed by Danger Close studio (a subsidiary of EA Los Angeles) and DICE, is one part of the publisher's strategy. Finally leaving behind the beach landings of World War II, Medal of Honor has entered the arena of modern combat, an arena that arguably propelled Call of Duty to its current status.
Developed by Danger Close, Medal of Honor's campaign takes a slightly different path from that of the Modern Warfare titles. Eschewing fictional conflicts with Russian ultranationalists, Medal of Honor drops the player into the current conflict in Afghanistan. Told from the viewpoints of several different personnel, the plot covers several related operations taking place over the course of a few days. The story, therefore, is rather simplistic, focusing on the interactions of squadmates as they fight insurgents.
There isn't much to say about how Medal of Honor plays. If you've touched a first person shooter before, you'll be right at home navigating the treacherous mountains of Afghanistan. You can pick up enemy weapons, but given that you can always ask your teammates for more ammunition whenever you run low, this is hardly ever necessary in the course of the campaign. As such, much of Medal of Honor involves the familiar taking cover, flushing out enemy positions, advancing, repeat course of events. Unfortunately, given the game's quest for authenticity, the enemy combatants don't do much to spice up that familiar formula. To be fair, it is expected that a well-trained force of American operatives can outshoot and outflank insurgents armed with outdated weapons. There are moments that take you away from the ground-pounding, and in the interest of not spoiling much, I'll just say that they are some of the more interesting sequences present in the game. In general, however, the campaign is a decent gameplay experience that offers a somewhat-fresh perspective on current military conflicts. It isn't extraordinary, but it can provide an 8-10 hour-long diversion.
The multiplayer component was developed by DICE and represents its first foray outside of the Battlefield franchise since Mirror's Edge was released over two years ago. It is evident that DICE wanted to go after a more Call of Duty-esque feel, as vehicles are largely missing from the game, save for a few specific maps. The infantry combat is highly similar to Bad Company 2's, favoring a slightly-slower pace of play that awards those who pick their shots and get the drop on enemies at medium-to-long distances. Three classes fit a variety of play styles.
While possessing solid mechanics, the multiplayer component's level of content is more questionable. With 8 maps, you'll soon find yourself fighting on the same arenas over and over. There is a ranking system included, but it is far more anemic than those found in its counterparts. As a result, one might not be able to find the replay value that we've come to expect as a result of past FPS heavy-hitters.
It all comes down to a package that has some solid fundamentals, but just hasn't gone far enough to challenge conventions or take on established franchises. Medal of Honor represents a much-needed reboot for an aging franchise, but the next installment needs to improve on the current game's shortcomings if EA wants it to credibly challenge the FPS top guns. If you're absolutely itching for some more modern gunplay, then Medal of Honor should provide enough of an experience to tide you over until new games hit.
Gameplay: 8.0 – It's a modern combat shooter. What else is there to know?
Presentation: 7.5 – Somewhat of a jarring transition between prerendered cinematics and in-game scenes.
Graphics: 8.0 – Solid visuals.
Sound: 8.0 – Solid sound effects.
Value: 7.5 – Unspectacular campaign and barebones multiplayer make it difficult to stomach the full price.
Final Score: 7.8 – Medal of Honor saves the franchise from the doldrums of obselesence, but it simply cannot compete with the enormous value provided by current FPS giants.
"The Gaming Corner"