Medal of Honor: Airborne

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Developer: EA Los AngelesPublisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: August 27, 2007Also On: PC, PS3 & Xbox 360

Whether or not you agree on the future of Medal of Honor in the new Airborne, one thing is unmistakable: Medal of Honor is reinventing itself. The first next-generation Medal of Honor (I wouldn’t count Vanguard for Wii as a next-gen game) is a serious departure from past games in the series, as well as World War II shooters in general. This is a good thing for a franchise that not only lost its lead to Activision’s Call of Duty, it also lost its direction.

Electronic Arts admits that Call of Duty is the kingmaker in this sub-genre. Airborne hopes to change that by adding realistic gameplay unmatched in any other game. The idea is to have this expansive shooter where the player makes all of the choices. Afterall, war is never a linear path that repeats itself exactly the same in each encounter. EALA wanted a more dynamic form of warfare, one that would only be possible on a next-generation of video game systems.

In order to give the player maximum control, your character will parachute in air drops into the various levels. Using the left analog stick to control the forward or back motion and the right analog stick to control the left/right movement, you can target very specific areas on the battlefield. Always look for a specific advantage, such as a rooftop, a drop zone (where fresh supplies will await your landing) or some place that is well-covered. To add a little replay value, the developers included skill drops where you have to land in tricky places, such as a window.

Dropping anywhere on the map raises a number of different technical problems that only now with new hardware can be overcome. One of the most obvious is the sheer size of the levels. In Husky you will be engaging in house-to-house warfare in this massive city, making your way to the Town Hall where you will need to blow up a couple AA guns located on the roof. Traveling through the city, you will see amazing architecture in the historic streets of old Europe. It’s hard not to admire the graphics, as this is probably even better looking than Call of Duty 3, but your concentration will be needed on the battle.

The way the game is played and how you experience the level will change every time you play it. Having this new gameplay dynamic, where you could theoretically land at a new location every time you played the game, will alter your encounters quite a bit. You could choose to take an easier route, pushing towards your objective by landing at a drop zone. Here you will find a cache of weapons and supply of ally reinforcements. You may choose the totally opposite approach and go for the fortified mansion that is the Town Hall. Not only will you have to adjust your play style (run-and-gun vs. sniping) depending on where you land, you are potentially setting yourself up for an immediate death.

It is also important to note that there are three different types of landings that you can either take advantage of or fall victim to. The first is the most common, a flared landing. This is achieved when you pull the cords on your parachute to slow down before you land. If you come in at the right speed and angle, you can hop right out of the parachute running forward in a greased landing. Of course the final landing is a botched landing. This will cost you precious time and possibly health as you will crash.

Now that we have gotten the basic idea of how an air drop works, let’s talk a little bit about the basics of shooting in Medal of Honor Airborne. If you are a gun whore, you should be in luck. Airborne is going to unload a number of different weapons on you, from German and Allied pistols, to sniper rifles, shot guns and an assault rifle. All of these weapons can be improved with upgrades that you will earn through experience. Firing the weapons is as simple as pressing down on a trigger. You can enter iron sights to increase accuracy and range that you can see enemies. As with Vanguard, there is a little Rainbow Six feel to the shooting with the leaning ability when in iron sights.

As not to leave the impression that Medal of Honor Airborne is not without its faults, I should point out a few flaws that I noticed. The most glaring (at least to the eyes) are the lights in some of the night levels. I love the lighting, afterall, Vanguard was way too dark in several areas, but the fog lights and headlights can be overkill. A few spots in Avalanche I was completely blinded. The only other noticeable problem I had with the game was with the AI. Touted by EALA as the most advanced in a Medal of Honor to date, soldiers on both sides seem to have a slow reaction at times. Worse yet, my allies would sometimes push my character into the open when I was taking cover or trying to snipe. Still, these are minor gripes that should be ironed out before the game gets released in August.

Getting on the road to recovery can be a long, hard journey. It’s reasonable to say that after the disastrous Medal of Honor: Rising Sun, EA took its franchise into rehab. European Assault was sort of the black sheep of the franchise. It was good for what it was, it just didn’t feel like a Medal of Honor game. Medal of Honor Vanguard returned the franchise to where it was way back in 2002 with Frontline. Airborne is the future. Activision will be looking at Airborne for pointers in their next Call of Duty instead of the other way around.

Ships on PC and Xbox 360

Get ready to get airborne! Medal of Honor Airborne, the latest installment from EA’s critically-acclaimed Medal of Honor franchise has shipped to store shelves across North America and the UK for the PC and Xbox 360. The game will ship to retailers throughout Europe on September 7. Medal of Honor Airborne is set to redefine the series and will change the way shooters are played. Medal of Honor Airborne offers a dramatically different approach to FPS games with its unprecedented non-linear gameplay.

“In recreating the largest airdrops in history, Medal of Honor Airborne brings a dramatic change and opens up the FPS genre with the innovative airdrop experience,” explained Patrick Gilmore, VP and Executive Producer at EALA. “Players have the ability to land anywhere on the battlefield, and choose their own tactics to achieve victory, delivering unprecedented variety and freedom to the combat experience.”

For the first time in a FPS game, players airdrop into combat from a C-47 and land anywhere in an open battlefield. The first step is everything and the player’s landing spot can dramatically change the course of battle. Conflict on the ground offers unprecedented tactical choice in vertical, open battle spaces with a wealth of attack routes and flanking opportunities. Be sure to check out Game Freaks 365’s hands-on preview and article from our trip to Fort Bragg, North Carolina.