EA’s latest instalment in the long-running Medal of Honor series is notable for two things: firstly, it’s a dramatic reboot of the franchise, moving the action from 1940s Europe to modern-day Afghanistan, and secondly, it’s caused more controversy than a Lady Gaga outfit. Of course, the biggest question is how it compares to the seemingly unassailable Modern Warfare 2. Read on to find the answer in our full Medal of Honor review.
Read the rest of our Medal of Honor review now
Medal of Honor review: Online multiplayer
Medal of Honor review: Is including the Taliban tasteful?
Long seen as the console FPS series of choice, EA’s Medal of Honor franchise can chart its proud history way back into the days of the 32-bit PlayStation. However, it’s always remained a resolutely WWII-related affair, pitting the Allies against the might of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Supporters of tradition should probably look away now, because this latest entry follows shamelessly in the footsteps of Activision’s Call of Duty and brings the action bang up to date.
This all-new episode in the Medal of Honor lineage is a radically extreme reboot, and mercilessly ditches the goose-stepping Hun for ruthless Middle Eastern insurgents. Taking in place during 2002, Medal of Honor’s single-player campaign sees you assuming control of several different Allied soldiers, all involved in Operation Enduring Freedom. Fancy mission titles aside, what this basically means is you’ll be going behind enemy lines to put bullets through the craniums of as many Taliban fighters as possible.
EA has been quick to point out that Medal of Honor has been created with the assistance of top military experts, and this much is abundantly clear as soon as you begin playing. Dialogue between characters is surprisingly well-written and comes peppered with army jargon, and the combat situations that occur require you to think as a combined unit, flanking enemy positions while your allies lay down covering fire.
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This intense level of accuracy does have one minor drawback, however – compared to the high-octane (and, to be quite frank, implausible) set-pieces in Modern Warfare 2, Medal of Honor’s confrontations are more realistic, but consequently a lot less exciting. Genuine military buffs will no doubt get a kick out of the immersive atmosphere and level of detail, but trigger-happy Modern Warfare junkies are likely to feel a little underwhelmed.
It’s not helped by the fact that graphically, Medal of Honor is a distant second to Activision’s game. It’s certainly not ugly, but it lacks the visual kick that Modern Warfare 2 supplied so comprehensively. Again, much of this is due to the pursuit of authenticity more than anything else – missions are confined to the dusty and drab locales of the Middle East, giving the developers little chance to indulge in the globe-trotting that made the two Modern Warfare titles so vibrant and eye-catching.
However, it could be argued that Medal of Honor’s solo campaign plays second fiddle to the multiplayer portion. Indeed, the two components have been coded by separate development teams, and the online element comes courtesy of highly-esteemed Battlefield developers DICE. Not surprisingly, a strange disconnect is apparent here – the modes share the same controls, but boast different HUDs, levels and graphics.
Needless to say, the multiplayer is excellent, offering a solid structure which encourages you to improve your skills and rewards effort with enhanced equipments and rank.
Ultimately, Medal of Honor combines a decent single-player mode with a superb online component, but we’re not entirely sure this package is going to be enough to drag people away from the still popular Modern Warfare 2, or the newly-launched Halo Reach.
The solo campaign isn’t as enjoyable or innovative as either of those games – in fact, it brazenly borrows many elements (including the slow-motion door-busting mechanic, employed to empty a room of enemies) from Activision’s illustrious best-seller. The online mode fares better, but many will argue that DICE’s own Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is the better choice for social shooter fans.
Although it doesn’t dethrone Modern Warfare 2 as the king of FPS titles, Medal of Honor is a definite high-point for what had become a relatively underachieving franchise. Sequels will undoubtedly follow and we hope that with future instalments, EA can combine the solo and multiplayer modes in a more cohesive manner. In the meantime, this could serve as the ideal snack for Call of Duty fans to consume before the main course of Black Ops arrives in November.