Hands-on: Medal of Honor: Airborne

EA is definitely revamping their vision of the World War II FPS because their latest outing, Medal of Honor: Airborne, will introduce several new concepts into the MoH universe. EA recently released a single player demo which samples a level of destroying some AA guns in an Italian village. You don the boots of PFC Boyd Travers and the opening mission brief shows that you were just given your certification as a paratrooper in the airborne force, therefore this mission will be your first airborne drop. Exciting!

EA is rolling out changes to the MoH formula, one of which is a more non-linear approach to its levels. One of the biggest additions to this formula is the parachuting aspect, which opens each level. The demo opens up with you and a bunch of your fellow paratroopers in a C-47. With explosions rocketing every moment and the plane shuddering from all the force, all the paratroopers are yelling and shrieking. After a few moments, it’s your turn to jump, and into the cool night air you go.

From here you’re given full control of where you want to land. The first time through, I purposely landed in one of the level’s green zones, which are safe zones. These areas will house a majority of your fellow paratroopers along with boxes of extra ammo and health. The next time through though, I spotted a bombed out clock tower on my out, so I decided to land there. Lo and behold, upon landing I got a special nod for landing at this precise spot, and an enemy sniper was there to congratulate me on my achievement.


While your in-game compass still displays arrows showing where you need to go, you’re given the option to turn them off. With the compass arrows off, you can rely on where you need to go based on where your fellow troopers are. They’re constantly on the move and will yell out where you need to go. This certainly helps out the game’s experience.

Another new addition is the ability to upgrade your weapons. As you kill evil enemy soldiers, a bar outlined by your equipped weapon will gradually fill up. If you’re more precise with your shots (head shots, for example) the bar will fill up faster. Once the bar tops off, you’re issued a medal, a moment of slow-mo and an upgrade to your weapon. It looks like you can get up to three medals for each weapon. For example, you’ll be able to upgrade your MP40 three times: a dual-clip for faster reloading, a 64-bullet clip and a dagger for those close encounters. These upgrades persist as you go through the different levels, since you can choose your load out at the beginning of each level.

One gameplay aspect I enjoyed is the game’s cover system. While crouching behind some cover, if you aim down your weapon and use one of the directional keys, you’ll properly peer over your cover and can shoot at the enemy. So instead of having to stand up and then fire, the game will allow you to peek out from behind cover. If you’re crouching and sprint towards another piece of cover, the camera will act all frantic and motion blur will kick in, which certainly feels like the roadie cam in Gears of War. This time around, though, it’s all in first-person view and feels way more realistic. One knock on it is that you can’t aim down your sight and move at the same time, which is oddly cumbersome.

Enemy AI, along with your fellow troopers’ AI, is noticeably better. Your fellow comrades will constantly yell out enemy positions, spot nearby grenades, take cover from enemy fire, note if they’re reloading or even tell you to take cover if your health is low. As for enemy AI, they will constantly shift their positions, seek cover and utilize flanking positions. These new additions along with the non-linear aspect really keep you on your toes. I’ve heard of players noticing that it takes numerous shots to take down an enemy, but I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary.


If you’re worried about how the game will perform (since the game is using a heavily modified version of the Unreal Engine 3) you can put your fears to rest. On a mid-range PC (AMD Semprom 3000+, 2 gigs of RAM, ATI X1600 Pro – 512 MB) the game ran very well on 1152×768, with all the graphical options on medium. I bumped a few options on high the next time through, and only hit a minor FPS decrease.

The visuals are pretty astounding, especially for the Unreal Engine 3. The bleak outlook of a bombed out, war-torn village is shown to great appeal. Grenade explosions will spew dirt and gravel everywhere and hapless enemies will be blown around, complete with on-the-fly generated ragdoll effects. Thankfully, ragdoll effects are used to full appeal in the game, though general physics with items remain missing. When you turn with the mouse, you’ll experience a nice motion blur effect, which I found to be very neat.

As of writing, you can nab the PC demo from anywhere and an Xbox 360 demo is live on XBL. For you fans of FPS games or anything dealing with WWII, give the demo a try. It adds some new formulae to the genre and really sticks to its guns well. The game will be released on September 4th in the U.S. and September 7th in Europe. A PlayStation 3 version of the game will be out in mid-November.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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