There's a gunfight raging in our heads. One side of the battle is certain that the Medal of Honor beta shows off an FPS multiplayer achievement as important as the Battlefield series, or the first Modern Warfare, or the great Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. The other side is shooting wildly into the air, confused and uncertain. We just don't know what to think yet...
How it plays
DICE may be applying their experience with the Battlefield series, but if you're expecting it to be like Bad Company 2, you'll be disappointed. The controls are different (mostly referring to consoles), the classes are different (no medic), and it's much more focused on straight-up shooting than it is interacting with teammates (though strategy is still important). It's much easier to make the comparison to Modern Warfare - the Medal of Honor and Call of Duty series, are, of course, much more similar to each other than either is to the Battlefield series.
Like Modern Warfare, Medal of Honor is fast, and, well, modern. You'll see familiar-looking weapons and attachments. You'll die a lot. Its control scheme is similar, and it feels roughly the same to move around, aim, and shoot. But where Modern Warfare 2 fails, Medal of Honor succeeds - it's balanced through simplification, it rewards skill, and it requires strategies that feel like war strategies, not just "game strategies" (taking advantage of the mechanics).
One of the maps available in the beta, Helmand Valley, is fairly spacious, and encourages organized group attacks. Despite its size, however, we were spawn killed often. It was frustrating, but it made sense - our goal on the map was to attack or defend high ground, and when defending, it's a non-stop sequence of die, respawn, fight, die, respawn, fight...
Of the three available classes, we chose the sniper for this map. It was tough, because having not unlocked a scope yet, we had to use a red dot sight, and the only instant kill was a headshot. Body shots pretty consistently took two to three hits to a kill. In its defense, our gun - the first available for snipers - wasn't a straight-up sniper rifle, it was a single-fire assault rifle.
When it came to planning our movements and scoring kills, Medal of Honor was infinitely more fun than MW2. Finding a battle is much easier, as you have a small radar which displays nearby enemies. Realistic? No, but it makes the game work better, and discourages camping. On top of that, muzzle flashes are BRIGHT. You can see them half way across the map, which means that every enemy shot gives away a position, and every shot you take gives away yours. And sweetening things more, the deformable environment not only looks cool, but can be shot away to give you a clear line of fire, which makes for some very fun kills.
The other available map, Kabul City Ruins, is tighter, but involves the same kind of play. Cover is everything, and "running and gunning" is pretty futile.