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Is Medal of Honor the new Modern Warfare?

It's difficult to talk about the upcoming modern-day Medal of Honor reboot without making comparisons to the Modern Warfare series, so we won't (we don't like difficult things). Modern Warfare 2 is immensely polished and popular, but it does suffer fromcheap tricks which unbalance the multiplayer modes, a slew of glitches, and a campaign that's riddled with plot holes and accelerates like a Toyota.Will Medal of Honorrestorebalance to modern-day combat? Here are a few reasons it might:

It's a more realistic scenario

Rather than taking place in SHIT-THE-WHOLE-WORLD-IS-BLOWING-UP-ISTAN, Medal of Honor is set in present-dayAfghanistan, and deals with the current military operations occurring there. But that doesn't mean it'sjust a bunch ofdeserty nothing - Afghanistan is a very geographically diverse country, so there's plenty to see.

Above: Plenty to see (image viaGoogle Maps)

We don't know much about the plot, other than that it involves two types of missions, "sledgehammer" assaults and "scalpel" operations. Sledgehammer-style missions are big military operations - the kind used to attack, acquire, and hold ground. Infantry and vehicles are utilized in numbers, and the violence enactedis forceful and wide spread.Attacks with the proverbial scalpelare the opposite - they involve the super-hardcore Tier 1Operators, who are heavily specialized and precise.

The campaign isbeing orchestrated by EALA with help frommilitary experts,some ofwhom are currently deployed overseas.The development team sends gameplay DVDs to these experts, and makes adjustments in accordancewith the commentary they receive. They're very serious about keepin' it real.

Above: Real.

It's more thoughtfully paced

It's less "SHIT! DO EVERYTHING RAMIREZ!" and more silence... silence... silence... "Go loud."

The mission we saw was one of the Tier 1 missions, so the action was carefully plotted. The unit's task was to invade a mountainous encampment and disable anti-air weaponry to make way for incoming helicopters. The team darted between cover points and chattedon their radios as situations developed, occasionally making mistakes and correcting themselves, which created a believable ambiance.

But the calculated approach wasn't devoid of big set piecesand surprises. Helicopters blew the crap out of a caravan, an anti-aircraft installment was neutralized with C4, and the operators encountered more than expected when they breached a larger town,resulting in afrantic firefight which broke their Zen-like calm.

And, of course, the "sledgehammer" missions will likely be even more extravagant, as they involve much larger operations, and will incorporateair and land vehicles.

It plays with storytelling mechanics too

Like Modern Warfare, you'll play as multiple characters throughout MoH, and actions you take as one character will affect missions you play later as other characters. For example, in a mission prior to theone we witnessed, the player encountered a convoy, but didn't have the means to destroy it, soall he could do was drop IR beacons on it to mark it as a target. In the mission we saw, that same convoycame arounda corner,blinking "kill me, kill me, kill me," and a friendly helicopter turned it into a light show.

We've been informed of three characters - two "sledgehammer" characters, an Army Ranger and an Apache Pilot, and one Tier 1 character, the bearded dude who's on the cover (the beard isn't just for show - he's blending in with the locals to aid infiltration).

The multiplayer is being developed by DICE

EALA knows their strengths - they've got the campaign covered. But to avoid taking developers off the campaign, potentially compromising its quality, and potentiallybotching the multiplayer aspect,they've handed the entire multiplayerjob to the very capable DICE.

Of course, EALA is ensuring that the multiplayer section and campaign fit together coherently, but other than that, DICE is taking charge. They're developing themode on their own engine (the campaign runs on Unreal tech, but the multiplayer will run on DICE's Frostbite engine - the same engine usedin Bad Company 2), and they're building their own maps, so we won't see the typical campaign rehash maps. Possibly big, Modern-Warfare-2-killing things.

Mar 11, 2010

Associate Editor, Digital at PC Gamer