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Medal of Honor Review

Review; Feb. 13, 2011; Channels: Video Games; By Kyle James Hovanec
Meh-dal of Honor is more like it.

Medal of Honor is not as bad as you’ve heard. It’s not an amazing game by any means, but as far as bad first-person shooters go, it could be worse -- a lot worse. Instead, Medal of Honor stands as a competent but utterly average FPS in a sea of other alternatives -- in most cases, better alternatives. Like the slew of Call of Duty and other similarly themed military titles before it, Medal of Honor tries to set itself apart by using a real setting during actual wartime in Afghanistan. The game developers themselves help to set this game apart as well. The single play portion of the game is made by developers Danger Close and the multiplayer portion by DICE studios. While both portions feature similar aesthetics and game play, the two still feel very different from each other -- for better and worse.

Medal of Honor Screenshots
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The single player portion puts you in the role of a variety of soldiers and special forces as they take part in a variety of missions and battles during the March 2002 “Operation Anaconda.” From here you’ll switch off as you participate in everything from attacking an old Soviet base to conducting sniping operations in the Sha-i-kot Valley. That’s one of the biggest strengths of the single player portion. With the Call of Duty series moving further away from real battles and more into the absurd, over-the-top Michael Bay antics, it’s nice to be able to play a game based on real events, to know that, to an extent, these battles took place, and real men and women fought and sacrificed in them. It would go even further if Medal of Honor had any emotional development during the short campaign (about 4 to 5 hours tops), but instead, you’re treated to a bunch of disjointed missions with characters who are given little to no development. The sense of sacrifice, duty, and brotherhood which could have been accomplished during the campaign is absent here. Instead, the player follows a linear path based inside a shooting gallery of insurgent forces and clichéd cut scenes that contain everything from the overconfident general refusing to protect his men to the silent-but-deadly bad-ass special forces officer. If you’ve watched or played any military action game over the last five years -- well, that's all in here as well.

The actual game play mechanics are solid and perform as you would expect. The levels themselves, on the other hand, are one of the single player’s biggest weaknesses. The game tries too hard to mix it up, from sniping to piloting Apache helicopters, but those segments are short and often over just when you’re starting to get into the groove of things. And yet the shooting portions go on for slightly too long, with bland environments to play through and completely dumb AI opponents who do little more than stand still and shoot. I understand they were going for a more realistic approach, but nothing destroys realism like dumb enemies and linear paths that require you to follow them slavishly. It didn’t feel like a realistic combat experience -- if felt more like Duck Hunt

The multiplayer side of this game is the stand-out feature, and while it doesn’t break new ground in any way, it’s a fun, fast-paced experience that feels very similar to DICE’s other shooter, Battlefield: Bad Company 2. You have an option of three classes to choose from, each with different weapons and gadgets. Even while on opposing teams, the equipment changes: for instance, sometimes the U.S. soldiers get C4 charges to plant, and the opposing force gets cell phone bombs. All still function the same but provide a nice touch of detail. Like many other FPSs, each class you play has the ability to level up and earn better weapons and equipment. Also like other FPSs, you have the ability to earn streaks when doing well and eliminating enemy forces. The difference here is that streaks come in two types: offensive and defensive. You will always have a choice of what ones to use, and this changes the game dynamically. Want to just hang back, get kills, and keep upgrading the team’s armor and ammunition? You can. Want to use your streaks to send mortars and air strikes to rain destruction down on your enemies? Go for it. It’s also worth noting that life is precious in Medal of Honor. It only takes a few bullets to kill you, and without the inclusion of a killcam, you never seen where that sniper is hidden or where that mine was placed. This forces you to play conservatively, taking your time and making sure you scope out an area as thoroughly as possible while also keeping the game’s pace fast and frantic with constant kills. It works great, and with six different game modes and well designed maps, there’s plenty of reason to keep playing.

Medal of Honor is an FPS which tried to set itself apart from the crowd and instead fell right in line with what a run of the mill FPS is. Nothing about it stands out as particularly bad, but nothing stands out as particularly memorable either. Medal of Honor is a perfectly average, solid C. And when most of your competition is exceedingly popular and regarded as good to great, average just doesn’t cut it.


Review Score


Titles rated M (Mature) have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.

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