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Medal of Honor Review

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Developer: EA Los Angeles / DICE Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: October 12, 2010 Available On: PC, PS3 and Xbox 360

Medal of Honor has had a rough few years. After essentially making the franchise an annual event, even sometimes releasing multiple games in the same year, the fan base grew understandably fatigued. The rise of Call of Duty certainly did not help matters as it exemplified the fall from grace that EA’s World War II shooting franchise faced. The latest Medal of Honor, nearly four years after the last, hopes to change all of that.

I recently visited EA Los Angeles for some hands-on time with the multi-player part of the game. While I did not get a chance to play the single-player, I do have some information on it. The game is divided between Tier 1, an ultra-elite title that goes to only the best in the military, and the Army Rangers. The developers stressed that playing as these two groups amounts to tactical gameplay vs. being a “sledgehammer”.

The U.S. military has worked as consultants to the game, working closely with EA to get everything right. “We’re spending a lot of time on our single player story,” says Executive Producer Greg Goodrich (if you saw Sony’s E3 press conference, he’s the guy with the beard that kind of looks like the character on the front cover). The story revolves around Rabbit who gets his name from having nine different kids. There will be multiple playable characters in the game.

Since the new Medal of Honor is based in Afghanistan, the enemy is of course the Taliban and al Qaeda. Impressively, the AI in the game speak multiple native languages. Greg emphasizes, however, that “this is not a documentary on the war in Afghanistan.” It’s a work of fiction. The team worked tirelessly to be both tasteful and respectful of the profession. While this isn’t a war simulator like Flashpoint, they tried to make it as real as possible while remaining fun. You are going to encounter a ton of action throughout the game, just no nukes going off.

The game will be rendered in full 1080p and the lead platform is the PS3. I’m not sure if it was the fact that we played the multi-player build or not, but the single-player that was demonstrated on PS3 looked significantly better graphically than the multi-player that we played on Xbox 360. Keep in mind that two different teams made the single-player and multi-player: EALA is behind the single and DICE (the makers of Battlefield: Bad Company 2) is behind the multi.

The demonstration that we were shown for the single-player took part in a remote Afghan village. You play as a small group of four guys, including your character, heading into destroy a machine gun nest. Similar to Call of Duty, your health regenerates. You can collect ammo from allies as well as pick up enemy weapons. The HUD fades away to engross the player in the game world. The environment is very rough terrain, as you can imagine, with enemies having many places where they can hide.

The second demo that we saw our unit was sent to dispatch al Qaeda. You need to quickly climb the side of a mountain and quietly eliminate enemies along the way. You will call in air support for incoming enemy vehicles. This being a Tier 1 part of the game, it is much more tactical than the Rangers mission previously described above. At one point in the mission, the Tier 1 guys wait for oncoming terrorists to make there way below them and then ambush them.

The multi-player will have maps that are based off of real locations. The developers sought to balance the multi-player, which was one of the biggest challenges. Twenty-four players will be a able to play online. We only got to play two levels and two game types. Combat Mission is more narrative-driven and objective-based, similar to the campaign. The other mode is Team Assault, which is pretty straight forward.

The game will allow for a significant amount of weapon customization. There are three modes per weapon and three classes to choose from. These include the rifleman, sniper and special ops. Depending on which class you choose you are limited to what weapons you can pick. The game awards more points for things such as head shots and completing a mission. If you get enough kills you will be provided with a support action, which include mortar strikes, UAV and the like.

If you have played Call of Duty’s multi-player, you know what to expect from this. The best way I can describe it is a mixture of Call of Duty and Battlefield: Bad Company 2. It seems to require more precision and skill than both of them. It’s fairly difficult to camp in one spot and they won’t allow you to go prone. No claymores, either, from what I can tell. In short, you are actually going to have to do some work in order to get kills in Medal of Honor.

While I always reserve judgment until the final product is released, it looks as if EA did a good job revamping their storied franchise. It’s too soon to say whether it will reign supreme over its competitors, but it certainly has the potential to. They hired the right guys in DICE to build the multi-player and EA Los Angeles has already proven that they can build a strong single-player. Now if you will excuse me, I’m going to go enjoy the Medal of Honor beta.

Written by Kyle Bell