|Developer: EA Los Angeles||Publisher: Electronic Arts|
|Release Date: September 5, 2007||Also On: PC, PS3 & Xbox 360|
After playing through several missions of Medal of Honor Airborne's single-player back in May, and being under an NDA which prevented me to even mention multi-player, EA invited Game Freaks 365 to Fort Bragg, North Carolina to play test the upcoming game's multi-player aspect. It is pretty rare for a company to have an event dedicated solely to multi-player. Given that EA sent twenty some community leaders at the cost of not thousands, but tens of thousands, you have to conclude that they are taking both the offline single-player and online multi-player pretty seriously.
Just like the single-player, vertical gameplay plays a big role in the multi-player. The parachuting is the biggest difference between Call of Duty and Airborne, so the thought from the developers was "why not bring that into multi-player?" If you are lucky enough to be an Ally, you will drop from the sky each match. You can land literally anywhere on the map, be it on the rooftop, a ledge, a hole in a ceiling or simply in the middle of the open where all of the action is. A great deal of care needs to be put into landing by whoever plays as Allies.
This changes how you play the game on both sides of the token. For the Allies, it means that you can drop directly to a zone in capture the flag or help a friend in trouble by landing directly behind (or on top of) the enemy. Playing as Axis means you can snipe incoming enemies (if you get good enough at this, your team will become dominant) and see exactly where your enemy lands. Inversely, it also means they may land behind you and you won't even know about it. Nonetheless, it sure as heck is an improvement from random spawning that sometimes will leave you extremely vulnerable.
That said, it can feel unbalanced at times. I saw instances where Allies were getting plucked out of the sky as if it were Duck Hunt in a team deathmatch by a group of snipers. To be fair, Allies have the ability to dodge these by moving their parachute wildly, and also have the tactical advantage of being able to land anywhere on the map. Which also brings up the fact that in Capture the Flag, I would land in the middle of certain maps, a place being vigorously defended by whoever has control, and could neutralize it with ease as an Ally.
There are only three gameplay modes to choose from: Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Airborne Objective. The first two are rather basic, but can be fun to play. If you want to put your skills to the test, Deathmatch might be the route. The real fun, however, is had in the Airborne Objective mode. This Capture-the-Flag spinoff has the Allies airdrop into the map with control of all three flag zones ending the game. The central flag requires two players from the same team to capture it. If all three flags aren't captured in the time limit, the team with the most flags wins.
The maps themselves are largely from the single-player build of the game. You have three that are from Airborne and three that will be based on maps from Allied Assault. Yes, the number of maps is quite disappointing, but I believe that the developers make up for the small number with high quality. There are a few annoyances; I noticed that it was hard to get to some areas of the map, needing to climb up ladders or walk around rubble. Some of the design is questionable, rooms seemingly leading to nowhere and such. However, you should get a hang of things pretty fast.
The online multi-player in Medal of Honor Airborne is probably going to be one of the best that you will find on Xbox Live. The game is also coming to PC, where the community attendees seemed to be more critical of their build than the editors playing on Xbox 360. A PlayStation 3 build is in the works too, but the lid is being kept pretty tight on it. All I can say is if you want a well-rounded single and multi-player experience, Medal of Honor Airborne is your game. Too bad it comes out a few weeks before Halo 3 as it will likely be overshadowed rather quickly. Be sure to read my impressions of the single-player experience for a complete understanding of what Medal of Honor: Airborne will be like when it is released in September 2007.