I wanted to write this without mentioning Call of Duty, I really did. The problem is that love it or hate it Modern Warfare has become a benchmark for military shooters, in sales if nothing else. Also, it must have played a part in EA deciding to give Medal of Honor (I really want to spell it with a ‘u’) a modern day reboot.
One clear difference between MOH
is that unlike Activision, EA has decided to set its game in a current war. It’s this currency that has landed EA in plenty of hot water and also made the game an attractive alternative to MW
. I like realism, I’ll pick a military shooter over a sci-fi romp any day.
Before the Reboot
However, it isn’t just environments (limited if gorgeous) that set this Medal of Honour
from FPSs like Rainbow Six
, it’s the plot. If you thought the MW
scenarios were too farfetched, a bit too 24
, then you will be pleasantly surprised. MOH
is the video game equivalent of The Hurt Locker
– authentic but in parts dull.
The plot sees you take control of three elements of the US Army, Tier One who are the best-of-the best; the US Army Rangers and SEALs who are pretty awesome but not quite as awesome as Tier One. As you’re on the ground, decisions are being made in Washington (probably) and they’re not always the right ones. Queue botched missions and life generally not going to plan for you and your comrades.
The problem with setting MOH
in Afghanistan is that the Taliban (or OpFor) are cowards (Yeah, you heard me. What you going to do about?). The majority of battles take place at a distance - not sniper distance (I’ll get on to that later) but at a distance that turns most battles in to a game of Duck Hunt
as you wait for Taliban soldiers to poke their heads out from behind rocks. Your own teammates are much better at finding cover and pointing you in the right direction. As a side point, the ability to skid while running is fun as well as useful.
I like playing the distance game as much as the next man, loving the customary sniper battles found in pretty much every FPS, but MOH
did have me gagging for some close quarter combat. It has to be said that sniping in MOH
is near perfect. The range of long distance weapons available is impressive and it’s pretty satisfying to take out an entire encampment filled with OpFors completely unaware that you're hiding in the hills. I even let out an audible ‘Aww yeah!’ when I managed to get two enemies with one bullet.
Sniping is helped by the graphics and animations that see limbs fly off in an authentically bloody way. Got a headshot? Walk up to the body and there won’t be a head to be seen – just a mess.
One of the early missions sees you take control of Tier One tasked with taking out a Taliban strong hold. To get there you have to drive quad bikes across the desert. Despite them handling worse than any Warthog
, the journey seemed to be a missed opportunity.
There wasn’t a time limit or any challenge aside from keeping straight. Later on you get to take control of a helicopter’s machine gun for what I found to be a highlight mission. Helped by a fantastic score it’s immensely satisfying, and that’s coming for someone who generally hates helicopter missions. Unfortunately, like many MOH
missions it’s over too soon.