Medal of Honor review

The Second World War has defined the Medal of Honor games for the best part of a decade now. The series has seen a decline in popularity in recent years as fans embraced modern combat, so this latest game looks to reboot the franchise by relocating the action to present-day Afghanistan.

Players take the role of a Tier One soldier, a trained specialist that infiltrates enemy lines and attacks with precision. As well as having mandatory facial hair, Tier One has access to long-distance sniper rifles and silenced weapons for stealthy takedowns. When the situation inevitably gets worse, control switches to the Army Rangers, who use more traditional methods of warfare and have access to air support.

While it’s great to see the Medal of Honor series finally moving on from World War II, the current conflict in Afghanistan provides few opportunities for varied gameplay. Vehicle based missions help break up the constant gun battles, but they are few and far between. A memorable level sat at the controls of an Apache gunship feels more like a shooting gallery because you aren’t in direct control of the helicopter’s flight path.

Throughout the game at least one squad mate will always be by your side. As well as giving you orders they provide you with extra ammunition, so if you hold on to your default weapon it's impossible to ever run out of bullets. There is one memorable exception to this, but to write it here would give away one of the best parts of the campaign.

The early levels are the most atmospheric, the cramped city streets feeling claustrophobic and packed with hidden dangers, but because of the mountainous setting, the later levels merge together with few truly memorable sequences. Calling in your first airstrike is especially satisfying when the explosion and resulting dust cloud momentarily eclipse your vision, but it soon feels overused as a method of story progression.

While the sensitive storyline is handled well, it’s still hard to empathise with a mute main character whose face is never seen. The plot also wraps up far too abruptly, making the single player experience a short-lived roller coaster ride that ultimately fails to deliver anything fresh to the genre.

The Tier One mode adds some replay value, scoring your performance in each level, but players will quickly gravitate to the multiplayer option. Developed by DICE, creators of the Battlefield franchise, it feels a lot more polished than the main campaign. Gameplay is fast-paced and well-balanced, but the ranking system is limited, score chain bonuses are difficult for all but the most skilled players to unlock and many of the maps feel generic and unexciting. There are several game modes available, but most have been seen before in other titles.

Other imminent high-profile releases look set to eclipse Medal of Honor, despite the free publicity from the recent non-troversy surrounding playable Taliban characters. The single player campaign is over in less than six hours, and whether the online multiplayer will be successful remains to be seen. It’s unfortunate that this new, rebooted game simply isn’t the return to form we were hoping for from the once great series.








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