There’s an interesting paradox in the games industry. Sensationalism and the marketing thereof has such little to do with the quality of a game, yet it’s inextricably linked to sales. Are we all so dumb, we’re willing to part with £40 for a sex scene with an alien, hooker beating, or a mission involving the slaughter of innocent air passengers? Most of the time we’re told these are an “integral part of gameplay,” and “deal with more adult issues.” Whatever. How exactly does Modern Warfare 2 ‘deal’ with any issues past the rather less adult I-have-too-many-bullets-in-my-gun problem? It doesn’t, and proving it is as easy as playing the game. Medal Of Honor was looking to go the same way with the needlessly spicy possibility of being able to play as Taliban fighters. Thankfully, while few changes to the game have been made, the menu screens no longer label the gun-toting guerrillas ‘Taliban’, so we don’t have to delve further into that issue.
MOH comes in two distinct pieces. First off, the campaign mode, which, if you’re looking for a shooter with a difference, is well worth avoiding. Primarily, this is because of a number of problems that simply shouldn’t exist. Apparently, it’s okay to release a title full of glitches. For this particular reviewer, they included glitching into walls, frame rate issues and some seriously idiotic checkpointing, which has you slowly and painfully trying to find the precise 5 ft square of ground required to trigger the next section of the mission and get the action going again.
These are more than frustrations. It doesn’t matter if there are patches on the way, a vast majority of us who buy Medal of Honor will play it pretty quickly, so those patches are pointless to all but the most reserved or busy gamers. As a game, its frustration doesn’t stop there though. The experience MOH delivers is one that could have been so much more. There are some stellar elements included, such as a genuinely weighty feel to the weapons, and some spectacular fire fights. In places, it’s a delight, but mostly it’s just a bit broken.
Then, of course, it’s ruined by a kind of pop-up pirates feel to the gunplay. Once you’ve demolished the majority of the enemies in an area, you then have to play whack-a-mole with the Taliban… sorry, terrorists. Wait three seconds and the terrorist pops up. Once you’ve got that one, you move onto the next. This continues for the entire game. Very much to the detriment of the whole.
Now we’re not against heavy scripting by any means. Scripting is an excellent way to develop weight and tension, but there are two problems that MOH shows in abundance. Scripting needs to feel natural. Sure, it’s not, but we’re okay with being fooled as long as we’re enjoying ourselves. At no point does Medal Of Honor feel natural. The second major issue with the campaign single player mode is that if you’re trying to develop weight and some semblance of narrative, don’t needlessly smash the whole thing up by leaving the player struggling with the most banal points of the game. Do we really have to enter a building via that particular door to set off the next section of a mission? There’s simply no need for it.
The single player is what you make of it. You can concentrate on these niggles and bitch about it like we’re doing, or you can play the game, try to look past its faults and then wish that all those problems had been solved before it got shipped. In fairness, you could never have expected MOH to compete with Black Ops, so the street date, we don’t imagine, would have ever been in doubt.
You see, that’s what MOH campaign feels like all round. It’s a money making exercise most simply explained by this equation: X-Y=Z, where ‘Y’ is the cost of production and ‘X’ is the total profit from sales. ‘Z’, therefore is the amount of ‘happy’ that EA execs get, and ‘A’ is the amount of ‘happy’ that gamers get.
On the other hand, there’s the multiplayer mode. Different developer, different attitude. Anyone familiar with arguably the best online shooter out at the minute, namely Battlefield: Bad Company 2 will have an idea of what to expect, although that idea is somewhat lessened by the scant options available to you. Three classes, four modes and eight maps is a little cheap for our liking. For a game that sets its stall out as competition to Black Ops, it’s setting itself up for a fall. It does what CoD used to do and nothing more.
Medal Of Honor evokes none of the feel of the previous games. Sure the shift to modern-day warfare is one that will appeal to many more gamers, but it’s not the same franchise in any sense. It feels weak, a shambling, pimply teen with no enthusiasm for anything. Bar the snippets of truly enjoyable gun play, there’s nothing here to enthuse over. Still, as a stand alone title, it’s worth playing. Don’t expect anyone else to be talking about it over the water cooler in a couple of weeks when Black Ops hits though.
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