Review: Medal of Honor

Top Tier.

The gameplay itself, thankfully, is familiar and comfortable.  Triggers shoot and zoom, throw grenades and lean; the stick is clicked to run, and reload, jump, interact and change position are all on the face buttons as you’d expect.  No surprises, no learning curve.   Aiming is solid, decisive, quick and precise, the iron sights and gentle auto aim as useful as ever and as your accuracy and skill is somewhat amped over your usual soldier’s attributes (given your character’s position in the military) sniping is a particular delight, especially when doing so over hundreds of feet.

Where the game fails to hit the top spot is in its scripting.  The player is continously led from one area to the next, from one objective to another, and whilst this creates a flowing storyline and ensures the pacing can be controlled, if you attempt to subvert the game’s course in any way (either accidentally or otherwise) problems can occur.  We’ve seen AI running on the spot and trigger points failing to kick into life with members of your squad simply stood around, posed and waiting for you to adhere to the preset paths.  It breaks any sense of an organic, evolving mission, reminding you that Medal of Honor is really just a game.

What the rather on-rails linear routing does do, though, is enable the clever ‘Tier 1’ mode, an interesting addition to the main game that challenges the player to go back over a completed level on a harder, more restrictive setting and be scored based on their success.  The time taken is obviously a key factor, but there’s other aspects too (like the number of headshots) and each discipline has its own leaderboards.  You must be logged on to play Tier 1 mode, presumably to stop cheaters, and it’s a really clever way to extend the life of the game.

So whilst the single player offers plenty of entertainment, it’s in the game’s multiplayer mode that things really shine.  Medal of Honour’s online portion is an entirely seperate beast (literally, it doesn’t even carry over your Invert setting), developed by DICE (Battlefield) and using their own Frostbite engine rather than Epic’s, it not only looks different but plays a little differently too, even if it sticks to the same basic core principles (such as setting and control) as the single player game.  If you’re familiar with Bad Company 2, you’ll be right at home here.

Offering a number of modes, the 24 player matches are – from what we managed to sample – frantic and packed with adrenaline – with the speed a welcome shift of emphasis from that of the campaign mode.  The replacement of the Taliban for ‘opposing force’ was seemingly in text only, too, and with the two sides apparently balanced in terms of firepower (even though there’s a few subtle differences) we had a few great matches with some already highly skilled players.  There’s some destruction carried over from DICE’s prior FPS, too, although don’t expect to be razing buildings with grenades.

As with other similar titles around just now, the more you put into the multiplayer the more you’ll get out of it – your rank determines what options you have in terms of weaponry and your skill on the battlefield at taking out multiple enemies without dying yourself (which manifests itself as your ‘Scorechain’) allows you to use special offensive and defensive items designed to alter the course of a match.  We didn’t hear much mic chatter, but that’s par for the course when the game is still pre-release and hardly uncommon on the PS3 anyway.

An ambitious game, then, with a real emphasis on developing the characters.  By the end you’ll have experienced two desperate, powerful days through the eyes of the US Military, from the Hua of rushing Marines to the poised, silent scope on the sniper rifle of a Tier 1 operative.  The story is grounded, rooted and human, played out amidst many others but never losing sight of the men on the ground, the decisions they make and the consequences that occur as a result.  Not perfect, but powerful, engaging and – in the latter third – as gritty as they come…

Pros:

  • The guns look and sound great
  • The slower pacing sets the game apart from the others
  • Inclusion of Frontline on PS3 is a nice gesture
  • Multiplayer is massive, with stacks of options
  • Tier 1 mode is cool, with lots of replayability
  • Some sections are utterly fantastic

Cons:

  • Unreal Engine 3 feels dated, visually at least
  • The single player is very linear
  • Some of the AI is disappointing

Medal of Honor’s leap to the current has been handled well – there’s a solid single player here with some stunning set pieces and the clever Tier 1 mode will no doubt see some serious competition down the line.  However, the real star appears to be the multiplayer mode, which despite limited playtesting looks to offer an entirely fresh portion of the game.  Activision might have a Call of Duty just around the corner, but hardcore shooter fans will find enough to enjoy with EA’s pre-emptive strike to make the purchase more than worthwhile.

Score: 8/10

Please note: the PS3 version of Medal of Honor also includes an updated, HD version of Medal of Honor Frontline. This was untested at the time of going to press and thus has not been factored into the score above.

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59 Comments

  1. Fantastic

    • this got torn to shreds on ign

      • And rightly so, it’s crap.

  2. Great review. :-)

    • It is a good review, but 1 thing about it i don’t get. Listed again as a negative is the fact that the game is very linear. Show me a fps that isn’t. It’s not a negative for a game like this, it’s not intended to be sandbox, i can’t think of many fps that aren’t linear – both modern warfare’s have been 100% linear, that was never listed as a negative for them.

      • Would have been if I’d have reviewed it. CoD was massively overscored.

  3. looking forward to this alot

  4. Do we know if the included ‘beefed up’ frontline has trophies or not?

  5. Cracking review nofi. along with the other published reviews, ive decided to hold off for now. With cod coming soon and GT5 along with AC brotherhood. Ive got too much to purchase. How long was the campaign? was it the reported 4-5 hrs? i can imagine the multiplayer being battlefield BC2 with new maps. Thats what i got from the Beta anyway.

  6. Excellent, sounds good and exactly what I was looking for from this game (BC2 without the embarassingly terrible single-player portion) :D Wish I didn’t have to wait for Christmas for it though :(

    • By the way, off topic for a second, but did someone at TSA put the “andUandU” bit under my username? Not a problem, I just can’t remember doing it haha!

      • Well if there is a problem… Jim’ll fix it…lol

      • God that comment i made makes me feel old..

      • I wouldn’t feel too bad. I’m 23 and knew exactly what you were on about meaning I’m stuck in the times! ;)

  7. Absoloutely brilliant review nofi, I think you have just tipped me over the edge into buying this at the weekend. Can you give me a rough idea of how many hours you can expect to get from the single player campaign on normal (i.e. not doing all the Tier 1 challenges)? Or a comparison of length compared to MW2?

    I ask because I know I wont be using the online much anymore when Black Ops comes out, so for me to buy it it needs a strong and decent length single player.

  8. nooooooo! I’m going to have to buy it :(

    ;)

  9. I was hoping to see some more information about the multiplayer. But good review either way. Thanks

    • Not sure if you have a 360 but there was a really detailed vid on there a few days ago with the devs talking about the multiplayer modes. I’ll see if I can find a youtube link for ya

    • “…taking out multiple enemies without dying yourself (which manifests itself as your ‘Scorechain’) allows you to use special offensive and defensive items designed to alter the course of a match…”

      Translated = contains ‘killstreaks’ and ‘perks’

      • Yeah I’ve seen a Predator missle used in some multiplayer footage. Not quite sure how I feel about that at the moment given I’m not a fan of CoD…

      • There’s a video of the different offensive and defensive awards here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gq0Vyja3uJI

        The explosion from the tomahawk cruise missile is disturbingly pretty.

        I like the idea of being able to choose a defensive or offensive strike to use and that it’s points (not necessarily number of kills) based.

        Having said that, I’m still far more thrilled by the prospect of Battlefield Vietnam.

  10. Already bought it on the PC and may well get it for the PS.

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