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Medal of Honor super review

AT A GLANCE
  • The exceptional multiplayer
  • The characters, voice acting, and storytelling
  • That when it works, it's thrilling
  • The campaign's premature ending
  • Dull, repetitive combat
  • Knowing how much more it could have done

Medal of Honor, like Halo: Reach, really requires two reviews: one for the campaign, and one for the multiplayer. MoH's campaign and multiplayer weren’t even created by the same developers, and don’t run on the same engines. It's two games in one box, so even more so than Reach, its two sides need separate treatment. Of course, it's still one box for one price, so I'll give each half of the game separate attention, and then rate the whole as an amalgamation of both.


Medal of Honor – The Campaign

It’s funny that there was ever any controversy over Medal of Honor’s treatment of American soldiers, because one mission into Danger Close's campaign and it’s clear that this is the game version of God Bless the USA (“Where at least I know I’m freeeee!”).

The campaign is loosely based on real battles, but takes place in a fictional Afghanistan where the Coalition consists only of America (excepting a brief cut scene cameo by the Afghan National Army), and the mission is clear: kill as many Taliban soldiers as possible.

The game opens with a battle through a Taliban-infested town in search of an informant. Once rescued, the informant reveals that the Taliban is gathering in a nearby valley, and assures the elite Tier 1 operators of his sincerity with a should-be-satirical, “Puh-lease! I want my daughter to go to school, have a life! You must keel them all!” Bring in the red, white, and blue, bitch!

Short and bittersweet

But despite its over-simplification, the most exceptional aspects of the campaign are the writing and voice acting. The Tier 1 special-ops teams, Neptune and Wolfpack, contain surprisingly likable, sympathetic bearded warriors (Captain Price’s moustache has nothing on these guys). The story is kept simple, as it should be: there are a bunch of Taliban in a valley, the Tier 1 operators enter to weaken defenses and provide intel, a jerk-ass general insists that the rangers be sent in prematurely, and everything goes tits up.


Above: Tits up

But despite some tense moments and big explosions, the campaign is underwhelming. The Tier 1 missions will get your heart rate up a few times, but they're nevertheless linear, "go here do this" affairs, and lack much creativity or mental stimulation. Shoot guys, move to a new position, shoot more guys. If you're any good at shooters at all, play on "hard" for any kind of challenge.

Arguably the game’s best mission takes place around the middle of the campaign, and doesn’t involve either Tier 1 team - it’s as an Army Ranger that you charge up the side of dusty mountain and desperately hold off a Taliban ambush in the most Spielberg-esque moment of the game. More of that, and less driving ATVs around at night, and the game might have soared higher. It's just not dirty or terrifying enough to be the modern shooter to beat.

My biggest complaint is that the campaign ends somewhere in the second act, just as you've become invested in the characters, and the final line, “This isn’t over,” will leave you wondering, “So why are the credits playing?”

Aside from that, the hit detection isn’t fantastic, the enemy AI is occasionally glitchy, and while parts of it look and feel great, there’s a general lack of polish. A teammate opens a door by sticking his claw-hand ten inches away from it. Enemies standing right next to you, separated by only a half-wall, duck and shoot as if you’re half-a-mile away. When most of the game is so well-made, these things stick out.

You'll probably play through MoH's campaign in one or two sittings, and you'll have fun doing it. It's compelling enough, but it doesn’t bring a lot of new ideas (and borrows a few elements from Modern Warfare), and while it almost makes up for that with strong characters, it shoots itself in the foot when it gives up before the third act.

Tier 1 mode, which allows you to replay each level in arcade-style, with increased difficulty and a timer, should add some replay-value, but... meh. If it at least included co-op, like Modern Warfare 2's Special Ops mode, it may be a bonus, but it doesn't, and it's the same missions you already played, not new skirmishes.


Campaign Verdict: 7/10 ("Good")

Next Page: Our review of Medal of Honor's multiplayer


Medal of Honor – The Multiplayer

If you don't care for multiplayer, think twice before buying Medal of Honor. But if multiplayer is your primary focus, then while you may finish the campaign in just five hours or so, you'll likely spend much more time combating human opponents.

Keep it simple, stupid

DICE has done a superb job combining the frantic, tight-spaces of Call of Duty and previous Medal of Honor games with Battlefield's open, objective-based matches. My favorite mode, Combat Mission, sees one side defend a linear series of strongholds as the other attempts to capture them one by one. It takes the experience of Battlefield and compresses it into a straight line, which I prefer, as it focuses the action to a single front. Yes, it involves less strategy on the part of each team, but I'd call it "simplification" as opposed to a "dumbing down."

The other modes, Team Assault, Objective Raid, and Sector Control, are standard multiplayer modes, which are common amongst other games of the sort. Respectively, they equate to team deathmatch, "sabatoge," in which the OPFOR must plant explosives while Coalition forces disarm them, and "domination," in which both sides attempt to capture and hold objectives.

There are three classes, Rifleman, Special Ops, and Sniper, and to be effective, you'll probably have to switch between at least two of them. Like Battlefield, the more experience you gain with a class, the more you'll unlock for that class. There are far fewer unlocks than in Modern Warfare 2, but that's not a bad thing. Keeping the number of weapons and upgrades (scopes, extra magazines, etc.) down prevents the game from becoming an arms race - all of the weapons have advantages and disadvantages, and all are worth trying.

Support actions, which are acquired by earning score streaks, are available to everyone regardless of level, and none of them are so powerful that they crush the opposing team's will to fight. Still, there are times when you'll be spawn killed repeatedly as mortar fire and rockets rain down, or when the enemy spawns within firing range. Some of the maps are just too small. It's frustrating, but as part of a frantic defense it makes sense (sometimes). All multiplayer games are frustrating here and there.

But not too simple...

Combat Mission is by far my favorite mode, but there are only three scenarios: Helmand Valley, Mazar-I-Sharif Airfield, and Shahikhot Mountains. For the other three modes, there are five maps... five small maps. They're too small and too cramped for my liking. It's not quite enough, but of course, DICE will be releasing new content in the same way it has for Battlefield: Bad Company 2.

But does Medal of Honor's multiplayer bring anything new? Not really. If you're growing weary of military shooters, don't expect MoH to reinvigorate you. While I appreciate DICE's style of multiplayer, it could have taken more from the zeitgeist. I like Modern Warfare 2's customizable tags, which identify players with logos and background. I'm not a fan of Halo, but I'm fascinated by its Theater and Forge modes, and why they haven't been more copied baffles me.

MoH's multiplayer could be more exciting, flashier even. But DICE choose to keep it reserved, and that's okay, because it does what it does so well. It's an experience you can't get elsewhere, but it's safer than it is innovative, and it isn't the Next Big Thing.


Multiplayer Verdict: 8/10 ("Great")

Next page: Is Medal of Honor better than Modern Warfare 2?


Final Judgment

If the campaign is your primary interest, consider looking elsewhere, but if you don't mind powering through a fun, if not groundbreaking, campaign before hunkering down for a long, cold multiplayer campaign this winter, MoH should be on your radar. That's especially true if the nature of recent CoD games has you desiring something with fewer detonating remote control cars.

Our final score reflects an overall impression of the game, and assumes you are the type who is willing to invest some time in the multiplayer.


Is it better than?

Modern Warfare 2? For me it is. MW2's campagin was superior - it took more risks, and just did more. But I quickly tired of MW2's multiplayer gimmicks. I much prefer DICE's straight-laced, more focused approach. Heartbeat sensors? None of that here - just me, my rifle, and my targets.

 

 

Battlefield: Bad Company 2? Again, it depends. MoH's campaign will offer more thrills-per-second, and more character, but... who bought Bad Company 2 for the singleplayer? In the multiplayer department, well, it's DICE vs. DICE, so take your pick. If you prefer Battlefield's style, then so be it, but for a change of pace, MoH tightens things up and stands strong on its own. Even if you're a diehard Battlefield fan, MoH is at least a worthy segue between BC2 and Battelfield 3. For me, MoH is the better experience.

 

Medal of Honor: Allied Assault? No. Sure, you'd probably have more fun playing the modern reboot than going back to MoHAA, but that's because MoHAA is almost ten years old. But I just can't call it "better" when Allied Assault was such a revelation. In both the campaign and the multiplayer, it was big, bold, and new. It was to war games what Saving Private Ryan was to film, and this reboot just doesn't stun in the same way.

 

 

Just for you, Metacritic!

Medal of Honor's campaign is well-scripted and well-acted, and parts of it are superbly nerve-racking, but its uninventive missions and premature ending left us wanting. The multiplayer, however, is a different game. No, it's actually a different game, and it's what DICE does best. If you've tired of CoD, Medal of Honor might be just the medicine you need.

More Info

Release date: Oct 12 2010 - Xbox 360, PS3, PC (US)
Oct 15 2010 - Xbox 360, PS3, PC (UK)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Genre: Shooter
Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: EA Los Angeles, DICE
Franchise: Medal of Honor
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood, Strong Language, Violence
PEGI Rating:
18+

87 comments

  • Austin_SJ - October 12, 2010 1:05 p.m.

    So what you're telling me is that it's only as good as Halo: Reach? In all seriousness though the combat being dull and repetitive doesn't make me want to pick it up. The story and stuff doesn't matter all that much.
  • veryweirdguy - October 12, 2010 1:16 p.m.

    Meh, if it's only as good as Halo: Reach I don't think I'll bother. Great review though! (I might give it a look really.)
  • Bloodstorm - October 12, 2010 1:17 p.m.

    I'm interested, but with the plethora of games ATM, I probably won't bite just yet. Side note: How the heck was I supposed to translate this? reCaptcha is getting ridiculous, and still doesn't keep spambots out. http://www.google.com/recaptcha/api/image?c=03AHJ_Vus88Kdwbd5D2cTJX0-RUN9-VV5UV2x2tY0D26__tvlIf0dMoa8sMYyEedJT-4UI6pIr_JT6QVZoADtlaEPUuRPGdXVOPFrZ22_xIcHUO6lxxQpGwlYVp43_qduaq5jr-INzvAoF4yyBnFAosKExzyYiXvvWxA
  • Bomberman - October 12, 2010 1:20 p.m.

    Sounds better than MW2 I'll give it a shot
  • JohnnyMaverik - October 12, 2010 1:23 p.m.

    Eh, I'll give it a miss, sounds like the campaign is complete balls, having hell yea america jingoism spunked into my face just isn't my idea of a fun weekend.
  • loonyman978 - October 12, 2010 1:26 p.m.

    I dont mind if the campiagns average, it'll still be fairly fun. And anything could be better than MW2's broken multiplayer, definatly picking this up
  • BoondockSaint54 - October 12, 2010 1:28 p.m.

    Awesome. Just the tag line "It's not Call of Duty" sells it for me.
  • StrayGator - October 12, 2010 1:32 p.m.

    SO IT ISN"T AS GOOD AS RED STEEL 1!!! iCLSHNNGNZ!
  • Baron164 - October 12, 2010 1:37 p.m.

    The multiplayer sounds more up my ally than Modern Warfare's. I got tired of the ADD designed multiplayer and the million things to unlock turned me off because I hate having to wait till level 15 to unlock this mode or level 20 to unlock this rifle. I just want to play and not get my ass handed to me because I don't have this such and such a perk. The campaign sounds a bit disappointing but I'm still looking forward to going through it. And I'll play the Tier 1 if for nothing else a challenge.
  • db1331 - October 12, 2010 1:39 p.m.

    SO YOU ARE GOING TO SIT THERE WITH THAT SMUG FACE AND STUPID CAT AND TELL ME THAT THIS GAME IS JUST AS GOOD AS HALO REACH!?!!? Honestly, this game looked average all the way. I played the beta and that confirmed it. If this came out before CoD4 it would probably be a lot more exciting. This game doesn't stand a chance with Black Ops dropping next month. The servers will be ghost towns by the end of the year.
  • OnyxOblivion - October 12, 2010 1:54 p.m.

    About what I expected. I do believe I'd like it better than BC2, though. Not as much as 1943.
  • Robx - October 12, 2010 1:56 p.m.

    @db1331 True that bro, I felt this was between CoD and Battlefield on gameplay terms, but after playing the beta it felt really dull, doubt this will keep up with the other two.
  • keefster - October 12, 2010 2:01 p.m.

    So its better than MW2 but you gave it two points less? K w/e. wow, my fuckin recapthca has some weird spanish symbol, wtf is this.
  • grappler51 - October 12, 2010 2:14 p.m.

    I had fun with the Multiplayer open beta, but after hearing about the campaign I'm not sure if I'll get this. As much as I dislike activision, COD:BO seems to be doing more with the multiplayer, so I'll probably get it instead.
  • Jbo87 - October 12, 2010 2:18 p.m.

    My copies already on its way to me. Preordered this a while ago as I figured it would be pretty good even if it wasn't mind blowing but the clincher for me is the Battlefield 3 Beta access that comes with it. Cannae fooking wait for that.
  • BK-201 - October 12, 2010 2:19 p.m.

    Doubt I'll get this, don't really care for BC2's style of multiplayer and Black Ops is coming out next month.
  • Redeater - October 12, 2010 2:38 p.m.

    (insert random comparison to Halo Reach here)
  • Turboash - October 12, 2010 2:46 p.m.

    So it's marginally better than a game that came out a year ago. No thanks. Why everyone isn't sick and god damn tired of 'realistic modern shooters' is beyond me. My next shooter will be Duke Nukem!
  • Embolado - October 12, 2010 3:03 p.m.

    Wow Tyler, way to compramise on your game review. You just gave it a 8 so you wont be accused of hating america. Im suprised that Chris hasnt discovered your communist side. God damn jew loving canadian. ;)
  • CARDYKEV - October 12, 2010 3:09 p.m.

    Hopefully "on rails", overly linear FPS games are on their way out, especially on the PC

Showing 1-20 of 87 comments

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