Review: Medal Of Honor

Based on real battles fought in Afghanistan in 2002, Medal of Honor has you taking on the role of rangers and other Tier 1 operators as they fight their way through enemy territory on the hunt for Taliban encampments.

This Medal of Honor is very different than anything seen in the more than 10-year-old series. While the biggest change is the game's setting, pushing the action from World War II to a much more provocative contemporary Afghanistan, the tone and nature of the gameplay has changed almost as dramatically. This time around character-driven narrative takes a backseat to high-action gun fights and fast-paced interdictions.

Ideal Player

Long-time fans of the Medal of Honor games and those interesting to see what happens when the developers behind Battlefield Bad: Company lend a hand in a reboot of the Medal series. Fans of military first-person shooters set in modern times looking for another take on a game like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.

Why You Should Care

The Medal of Honor series kicked off, with the help of Steven Spielberg, back in 1999, delivering a half-dozen solid shooters based around the battles of World War II before it started to lose ground to its competitors. By 2007's Medal of Honor: Airborne, the series seemed to have lost its way. This modern-day reboot could be Medal of Honor's last chance at reclaiming some of it's former glory. It's also one of very few games lining up to directly take on Call of Duty.

How does Medal of Honor compare to the Call of Duty games? Very well. I loved the original Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, but felt the second Modern Warfare didn't quite live up to expectations. Medal of Honor falls somewhere between those two. I was surprised to find just how quickly I made my way through the game's campaign, wrapping it up in a tidy five hours or so. But upon retrospect I realised that there wasn't a scene I would cut, a level that annoyed me, or any backtracking to speak of. This is a fat-free experience; it's pure engagement packed with spikes of cleverly crafted crescendos.

Putting the Taliban in the game, especially in the multiplayer, was a controversial decision, did it add anything to the experience? The Taliban are the game's ever-present bad guys, nothing more than the game's threat. When Medal of Honor kicks off, there's a moment when you think the story is going to drop deep into the mire of 9/11 and wars it spurred, but that moment ends before the cinematic does.

Right: These are not your typical soldiers.

The game's use of authentic audio, particularly in the Apache helicopter level of Medal of Honor, received a lot of attention. How important is it in the overall game? Medal of Honor has some of the best audio I've experienced in a game. The constant chatter over your headset sets a subtle tone of military efficiency sometimes weighed down by rules and regulations - a tone that heightens the game's tension. The sounds of combat, made authentic with the retort of actual gunfire, vary depending on the acoustics of where you're standing when you pull the trigger.

This looks like a typical first-person shooter, was there anything that was surprising? The game's graphics are unusual. The developers offset the bright blues of the skies above Afghan mountains with flat, washed-out colours that capture the heat and texture of the ground. The maps are layered with smoke, swirling trash and destructible debris. The sharp contract between darked rooms and desert sky can make you miss waiting enemies. Beams of light shoot through the holes left by recent sniper fire.

Was there anything that was disappointing? The biggest problem I ran into was that the game's scripting, the hidden cues that tell the digital characters when to say their lines, couldn't always keep up with my actions. There were moments when I'd run ahead and clear an area only to hear my sidekick walk up seconds later to warn me of the dangers that now lay dead on the ground.

Two different teams made single-player and multiplayer. Who did better? Danger Close's singleplayer campaign is the better crafted of the two, but it's also the one you'll spend the least amount of time playing. While you can replay the campaign maps in the much harder Tier 1 mode, there's no way to play them with a buddy. Online the game is a bit harder to master, but once you do it's a satisfying experience. But with just three upgradeable classes, four modes of gameplay and eight maps, Medal of Honor doesn't offer the same assortment of choices as its competitors. Each class has to be levelled up independently, and the game is quite stingy with the weapons and accessories it divvies out when you hit a new level. While I've enjoyed the game thoroughly online, fans of more robust online shooter offerings, may grow bored of the comparably small selection.

Does this game prove that the Medal of Honor series was worth reviving? Absolutely. Shifting the game from the thread-worn settings of World War II to a fictionalised account of real battles that took place in Afghanistan seems to have given the developers a second wind and a gamers a reason to keep an eye on the series again.

Medal of Honor In Action

This video contains no story spoilers, but a glimpse at a lot of settings and gameplay elements.

The Bottom Line

Medal of Honor's campaign is a short but taut experience with engaging level design, deft pacing and surprising audio and visual touches. Online the game maintains most of what makes the campaign sing, but doesn't quite deliver the number of options modern day shooter fans may expect. Despite the hoopla over modern settings and the inclusion of enemy Taliban, there are no deep messages in Medal of Honor beyond one of the effectiveness of the US military in the Middle East.

Medal of Honor was developed by Danger Close and DICE and published by Electronic Arts on October 12 in North America. Retails for $109.95 in Australia. A copy was given to us by the publisher for review purposes. Played through the campaign on a retail copy in Normal mode, replayed through many of the levels on Tier 1 mode. Played multiple matches of multiplayer, testing out all modes and sniping many heads.


    Congrats to EA!

    I'm so happy for them I hope its a success financially for them as this new EA is such an interesting beast.

    Nice to see the new review format - I personally think that the gameplay video near the end is a good touch.

    I think this game is great. Im liking it alot more that MW2. Like they said in the review, the sound for the game is some of the best I've heard.

    im really likeing it so far only thing that i dislike about it is the visuals there good but not great but hey i can look past it so far everything else about the game is great but i havent played any m.p yet.

    A 5 hour campaign and multiplayer has four modes of gameplay and eight maps. Hmmm, I can't see much doing much more then renting this.

      me *much (first one)

        Agreed, I got sick of COD in a couple of weeks and this looks far too similar. I don't see how it isn't just a generic modern FPS with the same levelling multiplayer component that we've come to expect. I might hire it and run through the campaign, but I don't see myself doing anything more than that. If I want to play something like this I'll just put COD back in, but that's doubtful.

      I don't have a decent net connection atm so imagine if I paid $109 for a 5 hour campaign! How ripped off would I feel?

    Retails for $109.95.

    Retails for $49.99 US on Steam.

    Why is there a $60 difference when the currencies approach parity?

    VPN and Entropay here i come!

      broo where are you getting your $49.99, my steam says $69.99 US. And that for the PC version, the PC version in Australia retails for -$100

      How many times do gamers need to be told this?


      By all means continue to bitch and moan about the comparative difference in price between markets, but understand parity against the greenback means fuck all.

    My lame game sense was tingling when I read the ideal player as, "Fans of military first-person shooters set in modern times looking for another take on a game like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare."

    So it really is as derivative as it looks? That would explain EA stock swirling round the bowl this morning. Darn. I had no intention of getting MoH but I'm bummed that Activision's main competition has bet on a lame duck.

    I still regularly repley the single player on MW2, so the multiplayer isn't the biggest thing for me... I may pick this up.

    good review. good reading a review that isnt from an over hyped gaming website, full of people who set the bar soo high for games to achieve nothing scores over a 7 any more. i look forward to picking this game up.

    I must say that after playing the Beta, I was very impressed with the way the game plays. It definitely goes for a more authentic vibe. Players camoflague well, low hit count before you go down, but still more forgiving than MW2, no kill cam so more like real life, nice realistic looking scenery.

    I'm glad I preordered.

    Ideal for lame people. Go reboot Solider of Fortune, I say! -I miss the Love/hate review system.

    I honestly cannot decide whether I want to get this or not :O

    I played in the Open beta a little, but it felt a lot like BFBC2, a game I already own. If it were for the singleplayer;

    I don't reckon I would be paying $90 for a PC game Im not really anticipating much.

    Decisions, Decisions... :O

    I'll rent or wait a few months for the price to dramatically drop. I'm only interested in the Singleplayer.

    I just tried to intall it on my PC instead of playing the console version and I'm getting an error that alot of other people are getting as well. The anti virus pops up with something called DFA.dll. and says it's a Vundo virus before anything gets installed. Looks like PC players are having alot of trouble with this and EA isn't mentioning anything about fixes yet.

    I just bought this for a little over $50 US on the american ebay site, US games work fine on PS3 in Australia.

    Wow this was TERRIBLE.

    First: glitches. They're everywhere. From enemy corpses flying around no-clip style to the auto-save feature saving me while I was dead; this game gave me a headache.

    Second: Story. Or lack of it. The attempt was forgo the global political drama of the CoD series for a more focused Band of Brothers vibe. It fails miserably. You play in the shoes of multiple soldiers, and have little time to develop any bonds with your comrades. I can't stress how badly written this script was. A monkey with a typewriter could write a more engrossing plot.

    Third: Audio. This was ok. It sounded authentic and cool. The voice chatter was sometimes too soft though, and no option for subtitles makes gathering your objective difficult.

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