Written by Chris Boots-Faubert for SuperCheats.com
Introduction and Synopsis
In the genre of war games, the Medal of Honor Series stands out as one of the three series that set the standards that other game studios follow. The newest game in the series, Medal of Honor, was developed by several studios to divide the process by splitting the single and multi player modes among them. The single-player side of the game was developed by Danger Close, one of the newest studios in Electronic Arts' stables, with assitance from DICE, with DICE handling the bulk of the multi-player mode as well.
Published by parent company Electronic Arts, the game is intended as a reboot of the series, set in 2001 and covering Operation Anaconda and the war in Afghanistan. The game utilizes different game engines in its two modes, with the single-player mode making use of the Unreal 3 engine, and the multi-player mode using the Frostbite engine, which while delivering consistent graphics presents a distinctly different play-style between the two.
While the single-player mode presents a view of war and the FPS that largely follows the established protocol in the genre, the multi-player side features some very controversial play. In this mode, players not only play as ally soldiers, but also play as Taliban Irregulars (terrorists), a decision that both shocked and concerned government officials throughout the world. Defense Ministers in Canada, the UK, Denmark vocally spoke-out against the game in official statements, claiming that allowing players to portray the terrorists in live online play was tantamount to glorifying their actions. A British SAS Sargent, quoted in a video published recently on Youtube had this to day about the outcry: There are two sides to every fight; it is not as if we are there fighting ourselves. Besides, in real life or in a game, we'll will still kick their arse!
Previous games in the Medal of Honor Series focused largely upon the events of World War II, and include Medal of Honor (PlayStation 1999), Medal of Honor: Underground (PlayStation & GBA 2000), Medal of Honor: Frontline (PS2/Xbox/Gamecube 2002), Medal of Honor: Allied Assault (PC 2002), Medal of Honor: Rising Sun (PS2/Xbox/Gamecube 2003), Medal of Honor: Infiltrator (GBA 2003), Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault (PC 2004), Medal of Honor: European Assault (PS2/Xbox/Gamecube 2005), Medal of Honor: Heroes (PSP 2006), Medal of Honor: Airborne (PC/PS3/Xbox 360 2007), Medal of Honor: Vanguard (PS2/Wii 2007), and Medal of Honor: Heroes 2 (PSP/Wii 2007).
The new game is the 13th game in the series, and the first to feature a story-mode campaign and multi-player co-op and versus modes using dedicated servers online. The series was originally created by filmmaker Steven Spielberg, best known for his movies, which include ET the Extraterrestrial (1982), Back to the Future (1985), and Saving Private Ryan (1998), and his miniseries Band of Brothers (2001) and The Pacific (2010). Spielberg's involvement in video games includes Boom Blox, and its sequel Boom Blox Bash Party for the Wii, The Dig, and Trespasser, as well as the Medal of Honor series.
The game plot features the player as an elite special forces soldier (within a unit that is known only as Tier 1) which is part of the Special Operations Command, answering only to the National Command Authority. This real unit is difficult to define, but it is fair to say that it what the US Army Delta Force, Navy Seals, and Green Berets want to be. According to developers, soldiers from Tier 1 assisted in the creation of the game, allowing for as true a simulation of their actual function and missions as could be created without violating the National Secrets Act.
The game was presented at E3 2010, and shortly after that, a limited-time Beta Test of the multi-player mode was offered via the Play Station Network, with an Xbox Beta test following a month later., featuring two playable scenarios that highlight the flexibility of the game engine. Players in the Beta tests took part as members of either a Tier 1 unit, or as Taliban Irregulars, with each side fighting in two different modes: Combat Mission or Team Assault. In Combat Mission, the objective was to to control the territory in the center of the map, whereas Team Assault is just what it sounds like, team play to reach and obtain an objective while eliminating the other side.
The game utilizes a points-system for player advancement that is similar to game play in Modern Warfare 2, and is used to unlock kit, weapons, and level, though the Beta Test only included levels up to 14, and did not include class customization, which is a major factor in game play. Access to better weapons and weapon upgrades for use in customization of kit for each play session is level-based, requiring the player to work their way into more powerful weapons, which conversely can be seen as better power and strategy, creating something of a disadvantage for new players at first.
The notion that this new title in the series which uses the same title as the original that set off this epic shooter line is actually intended as a reboot that will (hopefully) draw in past fans and create the sort of buzz that brings in a whole new generation of gamers sounds about right. The series has not had a new game in three years, and this title is a departure from its bread-and-butter of World War II, which many gamers claim is so well-covered at this point that any new game set in the era would simply be a re-interpretation of a previous title. There is some truth to that, and the current trend of covering modern war is both refreshing and maybe a little bit scarey.
With historic war games it is easy enough to disassociate what is happening on the screen with real life because the events that are depicted happened long ago. Players who are students of history know how those battles played out, even if they run the risk of failing where their grandfathers succeeded, but presenting a modern war setting runs the risk of glorifying events that much of the world population wishes were not happening. Where MW2 presented a largely implausible story line, Medal of Honor is faithfully following the real events, so it will be interesting to see whether or not the DLC for this title also follows the actual events of the war.
While the single-player story-mode campaign is an integral part of any modern war game, player statistics have demonstrated that the modern gamer is more interested in the multi-player PVP and Co-Op side to these games, often completely ignoring the story-mode side of the game, as happened with MW2. This phenomenon places a heavy burden on the developers to not just create stunning and engaging online play, but maintain its level of intensity as well.
Unfortunately devising an attractive online-mode often happens at the cost of the story-mode campaign, which in the past usually translates to an abbreviated play-style that lacks the depth and challenge that the games in this genre were originally designed to present. Happily that is not so much the case here, thanks largely to the division of labor implemented in the development for this title.
While DICE concentrated on creating an online multi-player mode that can easily compete with genre heavyweight Modern Warfare 2, Danger Close invested considerable effort in assuring gamers that the single-player story-mode would not end up being the red-haired stepchild of the game. The online promotion of the game reinforces this notion, with videos published on Youtube that offer vignettes of both game play and the personalities of the characters from the game.
Playable characters featured in the game include Spc. Dante Adams of the 1/75th Ranger RGT., Captain Brad Hawk Hawkins, Apache Pilot, Rabbit - an AFO Neptune Tier 1 Operator, and Deuce - an AFO Wolfpack Tier 1 Operator.
One trailer video in particular, entitled Leave a Message presents the image of a Tier 1 Ranger ringing home and leaving a message on the family answering machine in which he reminds his wife to have the neighbors kids clean the gutters, while reassuring her that everything is fine. While this one-sided conversation is taking place, we see that the soldier is on-board a transport helicopter and is about to be inserted into a hot combat zone.
In a video interview with GamsSpot, Executive Producer Greg Goodrich emphasizes that the focus of the game is not simply on the mechanics of modern war, but also concentrates upon the characters as individuals, and tells their stories. The depth of character development as well as the details of their missions and motivation are what makes the single-player story-mode work so well, with the intense and realistic environment adding to the tension and assisting in player immersion into the story.
The realistic portrayal of kit in the game was one area that the Tier 1 consultants helped with, and gamers will find that the wide variety of weapons and gear compliments the different play-styles of the game, not just from the allied perspective but also from the kit of the enemy. Just like in real-life, each weapon and piece of kit has both strengths and weaknesses, and the game is designed to reward the player for both their knowledge in that respect, and for choosing the best tool for the job.
In Medal of Honor players will have access to a variety of weapons, including the following partial list:
Assault Rifles: Colt M4-A1, Colt M16-A4, FN F-2000 Tactical, FN M-240, Heckler & Koch G3A4, Kalashnikov AK-47, Kalashnikov AKS-74U/PA, Kalashnikov PKM, M60E3, Mk. 14 Mod 0 Enhanced Battle Rifle, Mk. 46 Mod 0.
Heavy Weapons: Degtyarev Kord.
Launchers: Bazalt RPG-7, Colt M203, KBP GP-25, Saab M136 AT4.
Shotguns: Remington Model 870*, Tula Arms Model TOZ-194*.
Sidearms: Berretta M-9, Glock Model 17, Izhmash MP-443 Grach, and Sig P-226.
Sniper Rifles: Izhmash SV-98, M21, M24, Norinco Model NDM-86.
Submachine Guns: FN P90-TR, Heckler & Koch MP7A1*.
*Access to this weapon requires that the gamer purchase the Limited Edition version of the game.
Weapon load-outs in the game are class-based, with each class having a fixed main-weapon as well as a secondary weapon (usually a handgun). Special Classes have load-outs that are unique to their function on the battlefield for example the Assault Class has an assualt rifle equipped with an under-barrel grenade launcher as their primary, while the Specialist Class get an SMG or rifle, with a rocket launcher as their secondary weapon.
These load-outs makes sense, and new players will have to adapt their play-style and strategy to the limitations presented by their class, at least until they start to level-up, after which they can selectively upgrade their weapons with larger clips, different sights, and other attachments. With a semi-destructive environment, making use of grenades or demo charges to drop a wall on your enemy is not just a good idea, it is a standard tactic, as is laying out ambushes.
Medal of Honor appears to live up to the legacy established by the previous games in the series, but with the new online mode and the changes to the game made possible by the public Beta, it remains to be seen how well it fits into the genre with gamers.
Medal of Honor hits the streets on October 12th, 2010 in North America, and October 15th, 2010 in the UK with multiple retail versions, including:
Medal of Honor Retail Edition: includes the game disc and manual. MSRP for the Windows PC, Xbox 360, and PS3 versions is $59.99 US, £49.99 UK.
Medal of Honor Limited Edition: includes the game disc and manual, with extra in-game content. MSRP for the Windows PC, Xbox 360, and PS3 versions is $59.99 US, £49.99 UK.
Medal of Honor 2010 Pre-Order Bonus Program
Gamers who pre-order the Limited Edition version of the game will also receive an invitation to the closed Beta Test for EA DICE's upcoming release of Battlefield 3, as well as access to special weapons, and early access to other weapons in the game.
Gamers who pre-order the PS3 version of the game will receive a remastered HD version of the series classic, Medal of Honor: Frontline as part of the game.
Pre-order offers are available via retail and online outlets, including Amazon and Direct2Drive.
Street Date: 12 October 2010 US / 15 October 2010 UK
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Danger Close & EA Digital Illusions CE (DICE)
Focus: Single-Player Campaign / Multi-Player Team Play
Platforms: Xbox 360 / PS3 / MS Windows PC
Genre: First-Person Shooter / War / Team Strategy
Official Content Ratings: ESRB Rated M for Mature (Contains content that might be considered unsuitable for people under 17 years of age.); BBFC Rated 18 (No-one younger than 18 can rent or buy an 18 rated game.).
Posted: 2nd Nov 2010
Tags: Medal of Honor,