Monday, August 1, 2011

Medal of Honor

I think I liked this game more than most people, but I guess I'm a sucker for even a little bit of emotional resonance in my first person shooters. After a few years of watching Activision's Call of Duty franchise move to the modern era and absolutely explode in popularity, EA finally put together a team to do the same with their venerable Medal of Honor series, and Danger Close put together a short but solid campaign that isn't the most original thing the genre's seen in a while, but was a lot of fun anyway. I've heard about issues players have had with some gaps in the scripting, causing disbelief breaking odd situations or forcing them to restart. The only issue I had was an odd controls hiccup in the final mission, but otherwise I found it to be about as well put together as other recent military shooters.

Medal of Honor doesn't have Call of Duty's love for the over-the-top or Battlefield: Bad Company's playful sense of humor, choosing to do a more realistic take on the early days of the war in Afghanistan. It's not a completely accurate game, as you still kill far more Taliban than any reasonable soldier ever could, usually in a single mission, and the insertion of a headstrong, clueless suit-and-tie general as a villainous presence besides the mostly faceless enemy was annoying more than anything else. But I appreciate the attempt to actually depict a fairly recent conflict with some level of respect, and the game managed to sneak in a few moments that I thought were unexpectedly effective at investing me in the characters and their plights. It's too bloodless to make a really good war movie, but they helped turn gameplay moments that could have been irritating into something actually worth playing.

The score really helped there, with some nice orchestral pieces that hit all of the proper notes without going too far into cheesy territory. Even the Linkin Park song played over the credits isn't terrible. I don't really have a full appreciation for the graphics of the game because I had some difficulty getting my machine to run it properly, but after tweaking the settings a bit it ran well and looked pretty acceptable considering, besides some of the detail taking too long to pop in. The voice acting and jargon-heavy dialogue seem fine, which is good because you spend most of the game listening to a constant stream of radio chatter from your squadmates and people elsewhere. It helps set the mood of a more believable war game well.

I realize I haven't talked much at all about the actual gameplay yet. Most missions play out like a typical smaller-scaled level from a Call of Duty game, if that gives you any idea. There are moments where you're overwhelmed by enemy forces and you basically have to dig in and just shoot like crazy, but a lot of the time you're acting stealthy and well-coordinated with your team, which I like because those missions tend to have the most interesting scripting. It doesn't take a lot of true skill because you can pretty much just do what your friends are saying and come away fine, but it's still entertaining enough to go through at least once. There is one mission out of the ten that takes you out of the standard gameplay for a vehicle segment which is pretty fun, and there are a couple situations where you're just given the ability to call down various types of support and air strikes on a specific position that are pretty cool. I didn't try out Tier 1 mode or the multiplayer, which seemed like a weak attempt at replay value and a watered down version of Battlefield respectively, but they're there for people who are interested. I don't know if the game was really the best value for the money when it came out, because the campaign is pretty short and the other stuff isn't really anything that hasn't been done before. But a year later, you can probably find it for a price that's worth it.

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