It was in an appropriately dark, dingy and secluded basement venue in London that I was given a demonstration of the first few mission in EA's upcoming Medal of Honor reboot. The refreshed war shooter series is taking place in Afghanistan, focusing on the current conflict between US forces and the Taliban.
The stars of the show are the Tier-1 operators – the closest you could probably get to superhuman soldiers. These guys are the best of the best, engaging in operations that hinge on the success of the allied forces in the area. Of course, the people you fight against know the lay of the land all too well and are not afraid to get dirty when it comes to trying to kill you. You've got to be on your toes.
I was shown a brief gameplay sample of the first mission in the game, which has the player assuming the role of the codenamed Tier-1 operator 'Rabbit'. Working alongside three other soldiers - 'Mother', 'Preacher' and 'Voodoo' - the mission is to progress through the Shahikot Valley in the early hours of the morning.
Dawn is yet to break, and the level starts with the team hiding in the long grass of the Valley's mountainside, waiting on an unsuspecting enemy to walk towards them for a stealth kill. Once the coast is clear, the four-man army sneak around the rocky landscape, using snowy patches for cover and taking out guards until a Taliban scout's campsite is discovered.
With the enemy alerted, a lengthy standoff takes place, with 'Rabbit' having to find impromptu cover in odd-shaped rock formations. Every so often, the player is hit by stray bullets from insurgents, which results in an almighty 'thwack' sound. Danger Close seems to have really gone for broke when it comes to capturing the visceral nature of being shot, and even though I wasn't playing I could almost feel the recoil – the 'pang' you hear is really quite shocking and immersive.
Luckily 'Rabbit' wasn't getting shot for long as the enemy wave was cleared within moments. As the team of elite soldiers progressed through the mountainside, I saw airstrikes being called out (with the use of the SOFLAM lasersight, to take out a convoy of trucks) and multiple setups for ambushes on Taliban fighters.
It's at this point where I should mention the audio production in this game – it sounds brilliant, and even though it's a single-player game, it never seems like it's a solitary experience. The intercom is buzzing with updates and calls from the virtual teammates, and the orders and strategies being barked from superiors adds another level to your gameplay.
For example, several insurgents appear during one particular ambush scene. The perfect chance for a headshot is there, but your commander tells you to hold fire. Just a few seconds later, another bunch of enemies appear at the same location. An itchy trigger finger could have botched an otherwise clean operation.