Preview of Medal of Honor

Medal of Honor Box art

Medal of Honor

by Adam Dileva

September 28, 2010

Xboxaddict was lucky enough to head to San Fran to give EA's new Medal of Honor reboot a test spin. We got to play three lengthy missions from single player and try every map and mode from multiplayer. So if you've been keeping up on the newest videos being released about the new MOH, you've no doubt seen some of the new mechanics, modes, and improvements that EA is bringing to this anticipated title.

Naturally, any game about realistic warfare, especially when it involves terrorist groups, is bound to be controversial; this new Medal of Honor is no different but EA wants people to realize that it's done with the most respect possible.

The single and multiplayer components of the game were created by different studios which gave each team more time on their dedicated sections to deliver a polished and promising game. The single player campaign is being developed by Danger Close Studios which is an internal EA group. After having talked to the lead campaign director and hearing all their reasoning for all their choices, I couldn't wait to get my hands on the single player to see how it compares with other titles out there now.

Firstly, this story is a fictional story, but it's taken from actual Tier 1 operatives' stories and tales of their battles meaning the story may be written, but the subject matter is very real. What is a Tier 1 operator? Well, in the military you have roughly more than two million people in service and of these men and women, roughly fifty thousand falls under the Special Operatives units. Tier 1 is an elite group even higher and more specialized than their Spec Op counterpoints. While there's no public number of how many Tier 1's there are, it's estimated to be in the low hundreds; these are the operatives called upon when the mission CAN'T fail by any means. The Rangers are thought of the brute force sledgehammer and the Tier 1's are the scalpel with surgical tactics.

The first mission we were able to play was an on-foot mission as the Rangers carefully making their way through a canyon. As enemies appear, they must defeat them and pass through a close corridor village crawling with enemies behind every wall and door. Eventually you come to an area that has a turret shooting at your team and your objective is to lay cover fire with your machine gun to give your squad time to move up and flank them. The mission structure was varied and you didn't necessarily have to kill every enemy for your team, you really did just need to make sure you were giving them cover fire so they could progress. The last section of the mission has you bunkered down in a building at the bottom of a large hill with waves of enemies at the top constantly firing upon your team. You need to take out the enemies quickly and proficiently or else you will become overrun by sheer force and RPG's that chip away at your cover. This section lasted for quite some time and almost felt like a horde-mode style with endless enemies, but eventually if you survive long enough, you will get some backup cover fire from some Apache's that clear out the hill for your safety.

This is how the next mission transitions as you are now one of the gunners in the Apache. It was a great seamless transition and when I asked, it seems all of the missions will branch together this way. This is how you'll see different sides of the war and it's done in a very smooth and natural way unlike other games that always bring you out to a debriefing map and break up the flow of the game pacing. Back to the Apache's; you're now gunning for a flying death machine and you'll be given targets to shoot and to use your lock-on missile for. One section will have you simply shooting and destroying all the enemies and their turrets mounted on the back of vehicles while others have you trying to franticly trying to find the terrorists with RPGs and eliminate them before they can take you out. Just like the mission before, this one ends with someone about to fire an RPG at your chopper and their suddenly taken out by a sniper's bullet unexpectedly.

Queue the smooth switch to the new mission and new characters; you're now playing as a Tier 1 operator that is along the bank of a mountain and sniping across a large canyon. This sniping mission was easily my favorite, not only because you're the bad ass Tier 1's, but the sniping mechanics are so well done that it felt authentic. As you pull the trigger, it'll actually take a second for the bullet to reach (hopefully not miss) your target so you'll need to lead your shot a little bit if your target is moving.

You become under fire from their snipers and you must find them; this is where your other vision modes on the scope come in and you're able to see heat signatures that clearly show any targets in your field of view. Eventually you become ambushed from behind and have to get out of there and to higher ground while taking out the following enemies. As you get further up the mountain you'll have to help some other squad far across a plain that's under fire. It's almost too easy picking off the natives from this far but it sure was an awesome feeling to see them drop one by one with precision shots. This is where the campaign demo ended for us, but I asked and the next transition is going to then switch to the team you just helped with your cover fire.

I was completely impressed with the campaign, the story, the transition mechanics, the in-game cutscenes and overall presentation. It's clear that EA is trying to tell a dramatic story and from the brief few missions I got to play, they've clearly done their job. It's already bugging me that I can't finish it now and have to wait till October 12th to find out what happens.

When you complete the campaign, just like many great games, it needs something to entice you to keep playing and keep that game in your system. This is where the multiplayer portion of MOH comes in; they've even got the brilliant team from DICE that's known for the battlefield games to develop this component of the title. Over the summer, there was a multiplayer beta for MOH if you were lucky enough to get a key and it was to give people a taste of what MOH is going to offer for all its online customers.

Just like any beta, there were bugs and issues, so I was quite excited to find out what's been changed, improved and expanded upon. The first thing you'll notice if you've played the beta is the large increase to the quality of graphics overall. Hit detection has been improved, no more crashes, weapons have been tweaked so there's no one overpowering gun that trumps all others, and no more having to find an ammo crate to get more ammunition, you can simply gather from guns on the ground from the nearest fallen player.

Other improvements have also been included for the release and the game will ship with four different modes and 8 maps to keep things fresh. There are some new maps that we played that were a blast to play; my favorite being a snow covered one that has high and low ground for the warfare. Being able to try all the weapons as well was a treat, knowing what's in store will make sure that all players will find their weapon of choice; they can even be customized as in ammo type, barrels, sights, and more. Having 12 vs 12 was awesome and combat was a constant; persistent characters and ranking is going to make this online component its own battlefield over a long term.

Obviously unable to confirm or deny anything, I naturally had to ask what was in store for future DLC packs and it seems like there may be more in store other than some simple map packs, so let's hope for some new modes as well. I had a great time with the multiplayer and with all the hands-on time I had, I still haven't tried all the weapons and variants so I will be anxiously waiting for October 12th to hit.

I played the beta this past summer and I have to be honest; it was fun for the short time but I get hooked on it. After trying this new build with all the improvements, maps, weapons and more, I'm actually quite excited about the title. Also, the single player experience completely sold me in every way and I wish I could describe how fantastic the presentation and audio quality for the whole package felt.

They specifically had an audio guy to all the small sound effects and another for the musical and score aspect and it shows. The voice work is superb from what I played and even the camera work in the cutscenes were very impressive that made it feel like a very polished experience. I can't say enough good things about the mission transitions as it keeps the pacing of gameplay a constant and it's so natural that it makes sense in terms of why you are controlling someone new.

Keep a lookout for the full review of Medal of Honor coming shortly in the coming weeks on Xboxaddict; I can tell you now though, I've suddenly become excited about this old franchise reboot and I can't wait to see what else EA has in store for the campaign when it launches in October.


Friday, July 30, 2010


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