Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Review: Medal of Honor by Electronic Arts (Single Player Campaign)

Name: Medal of Honor
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Danger Close
Release Date: October 12, 2010
Type: First Person Shooter

Operating directly under the National Command Authority, a relatively unknown entity of handpicked warriors are called on when the mission must not fail. They are the Tier 1 Operators.
Over 2 million Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines wear the uniform. Of those, approximately 50 thousand fall under the direct control of the Special Operations Command. The Tier 1 Operator functions on a plane of existence above and beyond even the most highly trained Special Operations Forces. Their exact numbers, while classified, hover in the low hundreds. They are living, breathing, precision instruments of war. They are experts in the application of violence. The new Medal of Honor is inspired by and has been developed with Tier 1 Operators from this elite community. Players will step into the boots of these warriors and apply their unique skill sets to a new enemy in the most unforgiving and hostile battlefield conditions of present day Afghanistan.
There is a new enemy. There is a new war. There is a new warrior. He is Tier 1. http://www.ea.com/games/medal-of-honor

First off, it's short. 5-6 hours from start to finish. Not good in my book. That said, the quality of the story is pretty darn good. There are some challenging and interesting moments in gameplay and plot. The game touches upon some sensitive issues like friendly fire and treatment of combatants, rules of engagement, etc. Some of which I agreed with, some not. From a political standpoint it is very much an all HOOAH, pro-war, hawkish game focusing on the roles of the elite forces of the US. Navy SEALs, Army Rangers with USAF CAS guys, and Special Forces: the creme of the Special Ops community. Attention is given to identification of combatants, and in some cases it is deftly handled, at least initially. I think if it were to be more accurate, there would be more non-combatants mixed in, running, hiding, making the combats more difficult because you have to shoot the ones shooting at you instead of just killing everything in the area once combatants are identified as hostile. That's neither here nor there. One of the main themes of the game is "suits at Langley" and "Generals" making decisions from afar with little input from the guys on the ground, and the problems it causes. Fair enough.

As far as the gameplay goes it is pretty darn good. The characters are interesting. The plot is solid. There are moments where you know you're really screwed and there's no way of knowing whether you'll survive or not. That character may be doomed to die. Maybe those guys running away will have an impact later. There are some railroaded moments you cannot avoid. That's normal really, but usually they are pretty transparent. In one case a guy lights a signal. I replayed that scene a dozen times and filled him full of holes and no matter what, he always gets that damn signal off. Bummer. I did enjoy some of the hair raising moments where you really had no idea where the chapter was going or the scene would end. Heads up people...characters do die.

The game runs pretty smooth but I hit a couple snags. In one case a main NPC got stuck on an object (collision issue) and I couldn't dislodge him, and by doing so, I couldn't progress as the character is needed to get through a gateway (a door needs to be opened and he opens it). I restarted the level and it was fine. Still...it happens. The game is new and glitches will happen. There is also a scene where the NPCs often get in your way and obscure your line of fire causing friendly fire if you're not careful. This happens in a very small area and there's really little room to move, so it's a bit frustrating. The enemy AI is pretty good. The scenery is top shelf. The characters models are good if a bit limited (a few times you have identical guys shooting at you.) I had no issues of collision for the main character. No problems there.

Controller setup is almost identical to Call of Duty so the learning curve is nil.

Mapping: where some games have you running back and forth on the same map this one does a nice job of making any repetition seamless.  A fine mix of stealthy missions, marking targets, creeping. as well as running and shooting missions. It all blends nicely.

There is a variety of interesting scenes and toys to play with. You get to be an Apache gunner, door gunner on a Chinook, AC-130 gunner in addition to the usual SEAL, SF guy, Ranger, Sniper/ Rifleman, CQB guy. You get to drive around four-wheelers which is fun.

The UI is pretty basic and unobtrusive, giving a far better immersive feel than Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (more or less the current standard). Overall the feel was much more...real than the gamey Modern Warfare 2 which I greatly appreciated.

Overall, my experience was a good one and I enjoyed the game. I'm looking forward to some multi-player this evening.
I expect any gameplay weirdness (a few collision issues, etc) will be sorted in an update shortly. This is easily Electronic Arts rival to Activision's Call of Duty series. My hope is that it remains the more realistic version of a modern warfare game where Call of Duty continues the trend of becoming more arcade-like.
EA's Medal of Honor creates a far more realistic and immersive play than Activision's Call of Duty series.


Chris Meyer said...

Can't wait to get home and purchase it :) that and Call of Duty: Black Ops.

Jeff said...

I've got that on pre-order as well. >:)