Medal of Honor Hands-On Preview

Medal of Honor

The Medal of Honor franchise has fallen from grace — there are no two ways around it. While it might have been able to go up against Call of Duty in the past, Infinity Ward’s successes (and EA’s failures) have made that competition a thing of the past. Now, EA is stepping up to the plate once again, going back to their roots with a reboot of the series and trying the modern approach that people seem to like so much. At a recent event, we had a chance to see what they were doing differently this time around, and get some hands-on time with the multiplayer component, developed by DICE, that looks to leave this fall’s Black Ops in the dust.

In terms of story, EA is going for a realistic approach. Whereas Modern Warfare was about nukes, fictional countries, and assassinations, Medal of Honor is grounded in reality. Players take control of several different individuals in the game, all of which are based on actual people who fought in real, historical battles. Granted, "historical" might be overstating it, since the game takes place in more recent history than the series has in the past. It’s set in Afghanistan following the US invasion, and this sense of realistic confrontation is one of the elements that really sets Medal of Honor apart.

During the presentation, we were shown two single-player missions: one put the player in the shoes of an Army Ranger, and another that had him controlling a Tier-1 Operator. This duality will shape the single-player campaign, showing the same war from the two sides: the Army Rangers’ overwhelming force as the sledgehammer and the Tier-1’s surgical precision as the scalpel. In fact, in order to make the gameplay as authentic as possible, they have unprecedented access to Tier-1 Operators, who have actually come in and helped in the development. Both sections looked extremely interesting, and I can’t wait to sit down and actually see how different they are in action. From what I saw, however, it looks like a fine way to break up the gameplay and prevent it from becoming too repetitive.

As important as the single-player is, though, the multiplayer is likely going to be the selling point of Medal of Honor, and is the area in which they need to come out swinging in order to beat back Call of Duty. In order to do this, they’ve pulled in DICE, creators of the Battlefield series, to handle the online gameplay. Because of this, the two sides of the game are as different as the sledgehammer and the scalpel, running on different engines, featuring different controls, and feeling, on the whole, like two separate products. While they’ll look fairly similar, it might be jarring at first when a player jumps from one to another, especially if they don’t know what they’re getting into.

Luckily, it’s going to be worth learning the differences, as the multiplayer in Medal of Honor appears to be on par with its competition. Players will be able to choose between three classes (rifleman, spec ops, and sniper), and work towards leveling up in a number of different game modes. At the event, I was able to get some hands-on ime with Combat Mission and Team Assault, two modes that played out very differently. Combat Mission had the teams working towards different objectives, with one side attacking points and the other defending. It’s like a mix of Battlefield: Bad Company‘s Rush and Conquest modes, with well-crafted bottlenecks that took great advantage of the focused objectives. Team Assault, as expected, played out like traditional Team Deathmatch, made unique by the map we played on. Kabul Ruins was one of the most interesting maps in any first-person shooter released in the last few years, with nearly every single building being explorable. Nowhere was safe, and it made things feel chaotic and unique.

Gameplay, too, felt like a mix of other things. It has the same general vibe of Bad Company, sped up to feel more akin to Modern Warfare 2. It’s a fast game, with any element that might slow it down taken out, for better or worse. Some might be upset by the absence of peek, lean, and prone, though the omission didn’t really feel all that detrimental in practice, and the game is likely better without them.

Modern Warfare fans might fight Medal of Honor‘s Support Actions familiar, as they are DICE’s answer to Kill Streak Rewards. They’re handled differently, with awarded points unlocking either Offensive or Defensive Support Actions, but, in the end, they serve the same purpose. At the event, they felt a little one sided, and few people ended up choosing the higher level Defensive Actions over the extremely powerful Offensive Actions, something that I’d love to see fixed by launch. Either way, it’s a twist on Call of Duty’s system, and it feels as though it might be a better take on the same idea.

I’m still unsure about splitting the game in half as much as they did. While Modern Warfare’s single-player and multiplayer felt different, it wasn’t nearly at the level of discrepancy found here. Still, I really enjoyed my time with Medal of Honor, and there’s little doubt in my mind that they know what they’re doing with the different teams. Either way, we’ll all know for sure when the game is released this fall.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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