Medal of Honor Review


I'm not going to use this space to compare Medal of Honor to Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2. Yes, EA's decision to "reboot" the Medal of Honor franchise was almost certainly born from envy for Activision's cash cow and the smell of blood in the water after Activision's and Infinity Ward's well-documented meltdown. However, I'm going to judge the game based on its own merit and not on how it fits into a publisher's strategic plans for the market or compares to the competition. That being said, let's see how the first Medal of Honor set in modern times fares...

Medal of Honor's single player campaign takes a soldier's story approach, or rather soldiers' stories because you alternate between a small handful of Special Forces operatives. The game takes place in present day Afghanistan and pits you against Taliban forces in the types of operations that are typical of that conflict. While the between mission cutscenes that are set back at a command center are generally clichéd and ham-fisted, the in-mission story points and chatter between your squad mates feel believable and realistic. The decision to set the game in a real war against a real enemy fought side-by-side with soldiers who feel real was a good one, and it's the game's strong point. The game's missions reinforce the emphasis on realism, not only in their settings and objectives, but in the way that they play out. There are plenty of times when you'll hold off on attacking the enemy, or avoid them altogether, because the odds are too stacked against you or it would jeopardize the mission's primary objective. There's a certain amount of tension generated by this style of play, as well as satisfaction at the end of a mission in which you made smart choices in picking your battles. That being said, this realism does not extend to anything approaching a real-world environment – mission events are heavily scripted and the levels are designed to keep you from straying too far from the appointed path.

All of the work that went into creating realistic missions in a real-world environment is far too often undermined by poor mission execution, bad AI, and the occasional bug. Objectives are too often vague enough to leave you wondering what you're supposed to be doing next. Sometimes it takes a little trial and error, but often it's simply a case of not finding the right trigger for the next event. For example, there was one point during the campaign at which I wasted a lot of time running around a warehouse and storage yard while my allies just sat crouched in one spot doing nothing. I eventually found an enemy soldier hiding behind some boxes in a corner, doing nothing in particular. When I shot him, a door opened up, my allies came to life, and I was finally able to move on with the game.

AI is also an issue in the game. Enemies take cover, but then it's pretty easy to pick them off as they pop their heads up and down. Your squad mates will also constantly walk into your line of fire or block your access to a doorway.

Finally there were a couple of occasions where I "fell" through a level and got stuck, unable to move or do anything.  Nothing takes you out of the game like the game taking you out of it...