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Medal of Honor: Airborne - multiplayer hands-on

If you've ever played a World War II-themed shooter in your life, then you already have a basic idea of what to expect from the multiplayer action in Medal of Honor: Airborne. Playing as either an Allied or Axis soldier, you'll skulk through war-torn cities and villages, battling the other team through streets and the ruins of shelled houses for kills and/or control points.

It looks awesome and plays great, but there's not a lot here you haven't seen already - just keep your head down, shoot to kill, marvel at the shattered European scenery and hope to God you aren't awarded Most Useless at the end of the match.

Then again, all the Allied guys silently drop into the action in parachutes, instead of just randomly spawning somewhere on the ground. That's new. Much like in the single-player campaign, Allied players begin each match in a plane circling the battlefield, and - once they've jumped out and deployed their chutes - they can land anywhere they want on the map, whether it's on the street, on a rooftop or right outside the Axis spawn point. Dropping in like this is fun - you can flare your chute if you want to try and drift somewhere far away, and although the single-player game penalizes you if you hit the ground at a bad angle, it doesn't matter here.

Even better, if your opponents are too dumb to look up, you can aim yourself at their heads and take them out with a quick, humiliating kick (which, on the 360 version, will net you an Achievement). The downside, of course, is that you're a sitting duck during these sequences; you can't use weapons while dropping in, and your parachute is a huge, tempting target for the Axis troops on the ground - who'll also get an Achievement if they shoot you down. Few things are more frustrating than seeing your screen turn red and your soldier go into a third-person death spiral before you even get to shoot anything, so don't get too cocky.

The multiplayer levels we tackled during a recent hands-on session with Airborne were fairly small; there's not a lot of ground to cover if you stick to the streets, and even in the control-point matches, no map had more than three flags for us to capture. But given the game's aerial theme, the emphasis here is more on height, with players able to storm into multi-leveled houses, climb to the top of rickety-looking clock towers and drop into buildings through holes in their crumbling roofs.

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