Medal of Honor Airborne Review

In Medal of Honor Airborne, you're an American paratrooper taking part in some of the biggest airborne operations of World War II. The Medal of Honor series has been around for a while now so it wouldn't be too surprising if EA produced another clone based on the long-running model. However, that's not the case in Airborne, which introduces some interesting new play mechanics to the series.

The most obvious change comes from the fact that you're a paratrooper. Paratroopers don't walk to the fight; they're flown in and then dropped right on top of the action. Every level in Airborne opens with you and your fellow soldiers enduring a bumpy ride inside the belly of a C-47 soon followed by a jump through the plane's open door. As you dangle from your chute and drift down to the chaos below you'll have the control to guide your descent and pick your landing spot. This leads directly to another one of Airborne's new features, open level design.

The majority of World War II shooters have been heavily scripted games, where you are moved along from one canned event to the next without any control over where you go next. Airborne doesn't present you with a sequence of objectives and then walk you between them. Instead you're given a set of objectives and then you're set free to pursue them in any order that you'd like. This makes the battles feel more realistic, with firefights occurring simultaneously around the battlefield. As you approach an objective you'll often see your fellow paratroopers battling in the vicinity. They won't take an objective on their own, but they will fight alongside you and will feel more like real soldiers than the handful of invincible buddies that usually follow you around in World War II shooters. The game still has scripted events, mid-mission objectives, and at times you'll have only a single objective, but the infamous feeling that you're "riding a rail" has for the most part been eliminated from the game.

Not only can the multiple objectives in the game be approached in any order, there are often multiple approaches to each one. A building protected by multiple machine gun nests may have a side entrance that can be approached through a lightly guarded alley. You can clear an enemy defensive line by moving through some buildings and then opening fire on their flank from a second story window. Or you can try parachuting onto the roof of a building and entering it from a balcony on an upper floor. The game throws you into some difficult situations, but it also rewards you for taking the time to find another approach.

Another new feature in the game is weapon upgrades. Every time you make a kill with a particular weapon you gain experience with it. Reach a certain level and you'll obtain an automatic upgrade for that weapon such as increased ammo capacity, faster reload time, or increased accuracy. This last type of upgrade is particularly useful because the weapons tend to reflect the accuracy of their real-world counterparts, meaning don't expect to pick off an enemy through a window across a plaza with your pistol or Thompson. However, you'll get the distinct impression that your enemies don't have to operate under the same restriction as their weapons seem to be just as deadly at a distance as they are from close range.


Also reviewed on:
  •  · PlayStation 3 
  •  · Xbox 360