Medal of Honorby Stacy Code
July 29, 2010
I've spent the last few days with Dice Studio's demo release of the multiplayer beta of their reboot of the Medal of Honor franchise (simply titled - Medal of Honor) and have to say - first things first - change is good. Where the Medal of Honor games have been firmly set in different theatres and conflicts of the second world war, this latest Medal of Honor is a contemporary, present day shooter, with coalition forces fighting Taliban insurgents. The multiplayer demo is fairly small - two maps are offerred, Helmand Valley, and Kabul City ruins, which show off both county and urban rendering. You can get the demo by pre-purchasing the game at your local vendor or online, but despite the small size of the demo, it does the job. The demo shows the direction that Dice has gone with the franchise, gives you a feel for the play and mechanics, and shows off the engine most flatteringly.
The first thing that immediately struck me was the size and scope of the environments. Playing Mission Mode (Team Deathmatch and Mission Mode are available in the demo, with one map each) in Helmand Valley I was immediately struck by how large and far-reaching the visuals are - this engine is very seriously pretty, from the local flora to incidental effects like the impact of bullet hits on trees, hillsides, and so forth. Deathmatch in Kabul City ruins was a visual treat - from a high vantage point, you can see the city sprawl clear to the horizon, with sporadic fires burning in the distance. Down on the ground, the city is ugly (in a beautiful way) - the level of detail is, quite simply, overwhelming. Though in the middle of a multiplayer deathmatch, I gave away more than a few kills as I simply went 'touristing' about the map, looking at things like the torn corrugated sheet metal that had fallen off of a shelled building, or the crumbled ruins of the Taliban's hillside stronghold. The engine is very pretty, and supports an incredible amount of detail. I did exclaim out loud (that's a polite way of saying I said a bad word) when I watched a fellow coalition soldier sprint up a road ahead of me, mortar shells exploding on both sides of him as the Taliban forces tried to range in on him.
The multiplayer gameplay is fairly frenetic - with ten players per side, even the large maps feel very lethal very quickly - in Mission Mode, where coalition forces are assaulting a Taliban roadblock, I felt threatened from the second I'd respawn. One feature I particularly liked was the fact that I can change classes on the fly - after each kill, I'm not immediately respawned but can re-select whether to take the field as a rifleman, special ops trooper, or a sniper, with appropriate weapon loadouts for the class. There is an option to toggle into a weapon customization screen as well, which will allow you to modify the rail (sights, scope), barrel, and base (magazine, feed) of your weapons.
The animation and gameplay of the multiplayer feels much more grounded in reality than other games I've played of this type - watching the other onscreen characters, the way they move, sprint, reload a weapon, react to a hit - Medal of Honor's shaping up to be one of those rare games that even in multiplayer is as exciting to watch as it is to play. Frankly, I'm hoping they release a demo of their single player campaign play soon, since I'm really excited to see what they can do with this engine as a storytelling tool as well as a game base.
In all, the game feels much faster-paced and action-based than previous Medal of Honor outings, and with the contemporary setting, the current Medal looks like it's positioned to bump Bad Company and Call of Duty out of the top slots for first-person action supremacy. Hopefully EA will slip us a mission or two of the single player campaign as a demo soon!