First Looks// Medal of Honor

Posted 14 May 2010 14:26 by
Games: Medal of Honor
EA Los Angeles has a hell of a job on its hands with the upcoming Medal of Honor reboot. The series has usually focused on past conflicts during World War II, but instead this instalment focuses on the Taliban, desert wastelands and insurgencies. But there is pressure to deliver something both different and more exciting than Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and DICE's own Battlefield: Bad Company series.

We already know one way in which Medal of Honor offers a unique angle to the contemporary conflict thing, and that's with the Tier 1 Operators ? elite soldiers who work under the direction of the National Command Authority. Precise and surgical, these chaps are the cream of the crop that are sent out in dire times ? when a mission simply cannot fail, basically.

But the Tier 1 Operator gameplay isn't the only slice of action in this dusty, bullet-filled pie. While you will be playing as 'beardo' for the most part, some of the game's missions will be presented from the point of view of the 'regular' US Army Rangers. And it's this front-line soldier element that I was shown extensively during an EA Showcase.

Executive Producer Greg Goodrich explained that while the Tier 1 soldiers were the 'scalpel,' the Rangers are more like the 'sledgehammer.' It seems that this side of the game will be played out similarly to past Medal of Honor titles, where you form part of a squad tasked with surviving the dangers of the front lines.

After watching a trailer that saw one of the lead characters leave a message for his family, it was time to get thrown into a mission. The player's mission was to guide his six-man squad around a dusty mountainside to flank a machine gun emplacement that was preventing the rest of the Rangers from advancing. From where the gameplay started off, two members of the squad had died and the surviving soldiers had begun securing a nearby village.

The usual ritual applies in this instance ? if you find any insurgents, kill them quickly. Fellow soldiers will hold up next to the doors of wooden shacks waiting for you to get into position, before storming the interior to check for hostiles. In one of them, you find a huge stockpile of ammunition and rockets. What a nice reward that would be for your Company if you managed to secure the area, eh?

Moving on, the squad sees the enemy turret, unleashing bullets at any allies that so much as think about popping their heads up from cover. Solution? Airstrike! Unfortunately, if that were to happen the Rangers currently stuck in position would be bombed as well. The tactic then is to divert the enemy's attention towards the player, suppress their retaliation and allow the others to get to safety.

It's worth mentioning the graphical fidelity of Medal of Honor at this point, because while the game generally looks pretty nice, it's certainly at its visual best when you have a group of angry Afghans shooting at you with machine guns and rockets. The scenery really looks jagged and unpredictable, and that is shown best when the player finds unconventional cover in an oddly-shaped rock.

Bits of dust, shrapnel and sandy debris all cascade into the air when bullets start to fly, and the resulting mist can impair your vision if you're not careful. The best bit of the demo came when all Rangers were positioned at a safe distance, and the airstrike was put into action. The fallout from the huge explosion results in a dusty fog that doesn't clear for several minutes, like the lingering awe on your face from seeing landscape ? and people ? fly about in a deathly fashion right in front of you.

EA Los Angeles really wants to bring that element of unpredictability into Medal of Honor, and it can be seen in various segments of the demo ? even after the turret section, the squad navigates its way through a mountain pass and ends up getting ambushed on all sides from enemies high up on the surrounding ridges.

This uncertainty is also present in the dialogue, with your squad members moaning; ?Intel really fucked us over on this one ? we've killed more targets here than we were told were present in the whole valley.? As the squad is about to clear one last hut in an abandoned village, a cellphone ring can be heard from behind the door ? then an explosion, before the screen turns black and the voices of squad members can be heard trying to save your life.

In spite of all its interesting setups, the Ranger experience seems to be more of the old kind of Medal of Honor than the idea of a modern reboot would have us believe. Goodrich says the Ranger gameplay is a mere complement to the Tier 1 Operative side, so it's quite possible that we've yet to see the things that will make this feel fresh. Colour us very interested and intrigued, though.

Medal of Honor is heading for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC for a 15th October release date.
Games: Medal of Honor

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