There are some games that come out that simply crack under the pressure of the hype that surrounds them. They try to be something so great, that they simply cannot reach the standard that they started from. The team at Danger Close and DICE wanted to make a game that rivals Call of Duty. They set the bar high for themselves, but unfortunately, they did not hit it. With major technical issues, and an overall lack of polish, Medal of Honor falls flat, and just becomes another face in the crowd.
The story of Medal of Honor allows you to play as three soldiers fighting in Afghanistan. Danger Close handles the campaign of the game, and went through the trouble of making it as realistic as they could by finding actual soldiers to come in and tell them what fighting in this kind of war is really like. This shows in some of the sequences in the game, but overall it doesn’t help, and makes the story overall kind of bland.
They try to create tension by throwing tons of guys at you, but this is supposed to be realistic, and I can’t seem to wonder if a team of four Special Ops guys are able to take down a hundred men. It just seems like they can’t really balance the realism, while still making it seem like an action movie. Each mission bounces around from one of the three playable characters, making the pacing hard to keep up with, as just when you are in the groove of things, you switch to a different style of mission. The story doesn’t last long, about 4 to 6 hours, and abruptly ends without a real conclusion. Overall, it is pretty lackluster, and doesn’t really stand out in terms of a good campaign mode for a modern day shooter.
The gameplay I think is what really brings the game down overall. There just simply was not enough polish put into the game, and I often found myself getting very frustrated with the design choices made. There are some standout shooter moments in there, such as a stealthy mission through an enemy camp at night, and flying an Apache helicopter, but it all feels like we have been here before. There is some major slowdown in times of high action, and the textures are at times horrible. The weapons feel solid, but the game feels like a shooting gallery, with enemies just simply staying in one spot and popping their head up, waiting for you to take them out. This doesn’t make the game fun and exciting, just more methodical and tedious.
They did try to apply some nice touches, such as when you have to paint the target to call in an airstrike, when the missiles reach their target, rocks rain down from above. This would be very impressive, but there is nothing organic about it, it is a simple animation and one second there is a base or a turret, and the next it is simply gone. There are also some game breaking bugs, like fellow soldiers getting stuck in the geometry and you having to replay a checkpoint. There are also some bugs where you can get past a point where you need to, such as a team mate is stuck in a doorway or you can’t climb over an object. A lot of these things could have been worked out, resulting in a better game, but it just didn’t deliver on any level.
The graphics as I have stated are pretty poor. Textures pop in and out; there are some sluggish frame rates, audio cuts in and out, and there are also some points where the enemies appear out of no where, and you cannot do anything about them. There are some nice audio touches, and they do sound like realistic military chatter, but graphics wise I can pretty much say it is the ugly duckling, but never was turned into a beautiful swan. It just doesn’t stack up against other modern first person shooters. It needed a much longer time being polished and improved, especially in the technical department, and it shows in this generation of consoles.
In terms of multiplayer, DICE handles this side of the coin. They tried to take their tried and true formula for the Battlefield series, and apply a fresh coat of paint in the form of the structure of Call of Duty. What comes from it works, but there are some little hitches that make the overall formula kind of drab. They take their own form of a perks system, and narrow the playing field down to three classes: Assault, Sniper, and Special Ops. Every action that you do with each class gives you points, which result in more accessories and weapons being unlocked for that class. Also, if you can get a certain number of kills in a single life, you have the option of using an offensive or defensive action on the battlefield.
Offensive ranges from mortar strikes to tactical missiles and defensive range from sending up a UAV or giving your team flak jackets. The multiplayer is not bad, and can be fun at times, but I have never seen a worse set of spawn points in a shooter. The enemy can literally come right up to where you spawn, and sit there and pick you off before you have any chance to retaliate. It is absurdly frustrating, and needs to be fixed if you want to have any real fun in the multiplayer section. Overall though, it is a solid multiplayer experience, and will probably stay active for a while.
As a whole, Medal of Honor is not a horrible game; it just needed some more time for it to truly shine. It was aiming too high trying to dethrone Call of Duty, because as much as I don’t want to admit it, I was hoping for a Call of Duty killer. Yes, it will still tide me over till the next big shooter and I am sure it will fill the same void for other FPS fans. But, I still felt that the game on its own merits needed some help that it did not receive. I hope that in the future they look back on this, correct it, and make something that really stands out, and breaks into the shooter market for itself, because Medal of Honor is definitely a game that did not do that.