By CHONG JINN XIUNGintech@thestar.com.my
After a three-year break, Medal of Honor is back and has its sights set on dethroning Modern Warfare as the king of military FPS.
MEDAL of Honor's single-player campaign distinguishes itself from other military games as it's based on an ongoing war even though the scenarios are fictional.
The realistic weapons and environments, and intense action as you engage the Taliban fighters on their home turf on the mountains of Afghanistan give the game an authentic feel.
The game looks really gorgeous especially as night turns to day midway in a mission and when the sky blacks out from clouds of dust after aerial bombardments.
However, MoH is a very linear game and there are "invisible walls" to ensure you don't stray off the path.
Characters in general look good although the animation appear disjointed at times because the game tends to skip frames which spoils the immersiveness of the game.
What little story the game has to offer is moved along with in-game and prerendered cutscenes. It's pretty much about shooting the Taliban from start to finish.
Like in other war games, you'll play the game from the perspective of different units. In MoH, you'll be part of the Navy Seals, Army Rangers and Tier 1 group.
Sadly, it didn't feel any different playing the three units except for the weapon load out at the start of the mission.
Although MoH plays like a standard FPS, it introduces a few new moves such as being able to peek around corners and the ability to slide on the ground by hitting the "crouch" button as you run.
The control system is also very responsive but all these doesn't really change the gameplay by much because in most missions there isn't much room to plan your attack.
Each level is also linear in design so it is just a matter of advancing to the next objective or checkpoint. Plus, you also have to wait for your teammate to catch up with you in order to advance. This can become rather annoying because it happens many times throughout the game.
The game is also heavily scripted which at times isn't so seamless. For instance, in one mission we had to rush a machine gun nest and also provide covering fire for friendlies to flank it. We chucked a grenade at the nest and it did absolutely nothing because the scripted event hadn't kicked in.
Also, there are moments where the game takes you out of a fight and gives you a laser sight to "paint" targets. This has been done so many times in other games, it doesn't feel novel any more.
The few sniping sections feel a lot like a "search for hidden items" game because you have to hunt pixel by pixel for terrorists camping in a village or on a mountain.
This can be frustrating until the game informs you to switch to thermal optics to better spot your targets.
Even the helicopter missions didn't feel fun because it felt very constrained and not dynamic enough.
The enemy AI in the game borders on being brain dead. In fact, the enemies are deadly only because they attack in large numbers.
They will often charge straight at you or stick their heads up from cover so it is really easy to pick them off. If the Taliban fighters were this bad, the war would already be over.
The game's campaign is also really short and lasted about six to eight hours. Sadly, the more interesting scenarios take place towards the end of the game and they are over before you know it.
The multiplayer mode feels odd and strangely disconnected from the single-player game.
The game looks slightly different as the graphics are less detailed although the same character models are used in the campaign.
Interestingly the multiplayer mode uses the Frostbite 2.0 engine which is made by Battlefield Bad Company 2 developer Dice.
Unfortunately, it does not give you the freedom to destroy everything you see and the maps are not inspiring.
However, the action is very fast paced. For instance, you spawn next to your squad mates which gets you quickly into the thick of the action. But you cannot choose who you spawn next to and there are times when you get killed instantly by a waiting sniper.
There are also vehicles in the game but their destructive powers have been toned down so you can't just blow a hole through a building. However, vehicles are only available in selected multiplayer modes.
Strangely, many of the new control elements introduced in the single-player mode - like sliding to cover and peeking around the corner - is not present in the multiplayer mode.
This may have been done to promote faster paced games but feels odd and takes some getting used to.
Many of the game's multiplayer modes are team based and we found the 16-player matches the most interesting.
Clearly, MoH tries its best to appeal to Modern Warfare players and to a limited degree it works. For instance, character customisation is very limited because there are only three classes available.
Furthermore, you won't be able to customise your weapon load out until you level up.
Medal of Honor falls short of its lofty ambition to dethrone Modern Warfare. The single-player campaign is flawed in many ways and doesn't deliver a great experience.
Clearly, many of the missions - like riding an ATV or shooting from a helicopter - have been done better in other games.
Also, the game's reliance on scripted sequences makes players feel more like a spectator rather than a participant.
The multiplayer mode also lacks the depth and variety that games like Modern Warfare 2 offer. Also, character weapon customisation isn't well fleshed out and is not available until you reach a higher level.
All in all, Medal of Honor will only serve as a brief distraction while we wait for bigger games like Call of Duty: Black Ops.
Pros: Realistic graphics; intense action; good control scheme.
Cons: Very short single-player and heavily scripted campaign; limited weapon customisation in multiplayer mode.
Medal of Honor
(Danger Close/Electronic Arts)
First-person shooter game for PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Recommended System Requirements: Windows Vista/7; 2GHz quad-core processor; 2GB RAM, 9GB HDD space; nVidia GeForce GTX260 or ATI Radeon 4870, DirectX 10-compatible sound card
Review unit courtesy of The Software Boutique Sdn Bhd, (03) 7876-3818