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Medal of Honor (Xbox 360) artwork

Medal of Honor (Xbox 360) review


"I wonít pretend that Iíll not sink hours and hours of my time into online play, but it doesnít stop the title from being only half of what it should be. Iím not about to ignore that."



The (now well documented) problem with the new Medal of Honorís direction is that it misspells honour it really wants to be Infinity Wardís version of Call of Duty but doesnít have as much practise at it yet. As such, EAís first attempt at knocking off the top dog is less a mortar shell to the head and more a slight nudging with a bayonet. To an unimportant part of the leg -- like the calf.

As such, the series steers itself away from structured missions against Nazis and instead turns its sights towards the Taliban, featuring a staggering four or five enemy character models to represent the entire terrorist movement and giving them slightly differing headscarves. This campaign mode is short, unmemorable and serves very little purpose but to showcase Medalís creative bankruptcy: more or less anything you see here has been done before and done better by the game it tries so hard to ape. Remember that time when you were hurtling down a snowy hill on ski mobiles, snaking in and out of trees while snipers took potshots and enemies on similar vehicles swarmed to your flank? This has something very similar, only itís on an ATV quad bike. And thereís no obstacles. Or snipers. Or enemies at all. At one point thereís a sheer drop that pales mightily in comparison to the live-or-die leap over an icy crevice Modern Warfare showed off. Itís impossible to crash or die at, but you are awarded with an achievement for it.

Itís a real problem because moments that were obviously meant to stand out often fall flat. Taking control of a helicopter gunship (like you do in Modern Warfare) has you clicking on white framed boxes to launch guided missiles rather than provide a static-breaking slice of rail shooting. Slogging your way slowly towards armoured gun embankments is pure trial and error as you try and plot out routes that keep you under the best cover, fail spectacularly, then respawn at the checkpoint and try a slightly different way. Levels that do make a stab at validity often have drawbacks of their own. Hiding away in a rocky outcrop of a mountain range allows you to break out a long distance sniper rifle and take shots at the personnel situated in the far distance. Thereís a clever delay between pulling the trigger and hitting your mark that keeps in check with the distances in play, and youíll have to hunt down enemy snipers by the sun glinting off the scopes before they get a lock on you via similar means. But itís hardly a new idea, and itís a stage that finishes before it ever really gets started. Another level has you and your group of four hole up in a stone hut while what feels like the entire Taliban army is bearing down on you. The hut is far from indestructible, and, as the firefight rages on, what used to be solid cover is slowly worn away by the sheer number of opposing force until all thatís left is waist-high walls and crumbled rock. But this set piece drags on and on, making it feel less like a frantic last stand against immeasurably stacked odds and more like a chore.

Itís more than a little disappointing that after all the hype and the advertising, this brave new title is no more than a pale imitation of one already established. It could end here on an unfavourable note, but the more time spent with the game highlights something distressing. The single player campaign is little more than an afterthought, something thrown in out of obligation rather than craftsmanship. Things very much could -- and should -- have been better, and nothing spells this out quite so clearly as how functional the game is as soon as you take things online.

Online, Medal of Honor is fantastic. Sure, it still shamelessly borrows heavily from Modern Warfare in how progressing through various ranks of solider unlocks bigger and badder weaponry, but it does more or less everything right. Games are all squad based as you team up with either the Allied Forces or the Taliban the evil OPFOR to take on a series of objectives. These games range from the basic team death matches to combat missions which require you attack or defend set locations.

The three upgradeable classes play a big role in what you do. Special ops favour close range combat, snipers take long range and riflemen exist somewhere in the middle. Because of the size of each team, itís a guarantee that all three classes will be found in heavy abundance. This means, while itís all well and good equipping your newly-unlocked shotgun and running full tilt into battle, odds are, a sniper burrowed away up high will blow your head off if you do little more than charge recklessly. Of course, this will mean betraying his position, and youíll have your own vanguard of snipers sitting behind you. This long-range covering fire is, in itself, extremely helpful, but hanging back and waiting for people to stray into your scopes isnít going to fulfil any objectives. You canít plant explosives or capture waypoints if youíre waiting at the rear all game. It forces you into action.

Some objectives ask you to destroy set locations, where youíll need to fight your way in, plant a charge and then protect it as the fuse runs. On the other hand, you might need to defend these points, keeping transgressors at bay and defusing any explosives planted by soldiers that somehow sneak in through the gaps. Other missions are long slogs where you either need to advance through set waypoints in a set amount of time, or halt enemy progression long enough until the timer runs out. In one of these, a spare airfield littered with the carcases of decommissioned planes, to win, youíll need to destroy a roadblock, blow some heavy hanger doors, forcibly take the belly of the airfield, then destroy two communication hubs, all while under constant fire and with the clock always ticking.

That players can fall in and out of live matches is a huge boon to proceedings; it not only cuts waiting time for an active match in half, it means that opposing teams are never massively unbalanced through no fault of their own. Player killers are punished by deductions in their points which means their level up progression is severally hampered and, win or lose, thereís always a satisfying amount of personal gain (and the ambiguous ability to blame ultimate loses on the incompetence of faceless team-mates never hurts ego).

Itís obvious to see where the effort has gone in Medal of Honor. One side of the coin is flawless while the other is warped and disfigured, and this puts it at a loss when stacked against the FPS race leaders it aspires to keep pace with. Add to that a gaping void where local multiplayer should be, and youíll find a title of relatively little value should you be one of those odd people with an offline 360. Iím not one of those people, so wonít pretend that Iíll not sink hours and hours of my time into online play, but it doesnít stop the title from being only half of what it should be. Iím not about to ignore that.

Rating: 6/10

EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (November 10, 2010)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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wolfqueen001 posted November 10, 2010:

Good review. I find it increasingly distressing that companies seemingly want to emphasize multiplayer, especially online multiplayer, more than anything else nowadays. In a lot of cases, this isn't a problem because the single player is still competent, so I'd just feel like I was missing a lot without the multiplayer rather than not getting any enjoyment out of the game for lacking it. But even so, I really agree that both aspects should be treated equally so as to best appeal to everyone. I know that in twenty years or so from now when I finally get a next-gen system, I still probably won't use the internet as a focus for my enjoyment in videogames. I like to have options.
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fleinn posted November 10, 2010:

:) ..DICE kind of made COD look silly a long time ago with Battlefield :p.. and was only hired (or "chosen", as some EA rep put it) to do the multiplayer for Medal of Honor. ..actually I think DICE folks have mentioned that the single-player game (developed by EA's LA studio.. who I don't know anything about..) uses a modified Unreal 3 engine. While the multiplayer portion runs on DICE's Frostbite engine (the same as the one used in Bad Company 2 - where they, btw, dedicate the entire single player campaign to make fun of COD).

But other than that slip, good review. I'm not the right person to say so, because everything I write is always too long - but I'm looking for some more air in some of the paragraphs.

But yeah.. you homed in on the game's strengths and problems, and tore the "epic war" trope a new one. 9/10 :p
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Suskie posted November 10, 2010:

I was kind of surprised when I read this, because your opinion is exactly the opposite of mine. I would say that the single-player was actually pretty competently handled, and that the multiplayer was what didn't live up to its end of the bargain. (In fact, I did say that, but I'm not allowed to say where.) I haven't played much of Black Ops' campaign yet, but I'm not impressed with it so far and I'll be amused if I wind up liking Medal of Honor's campaign more.

Still, very good review. I especially liked the last line of the first paragraph.
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SamildanachEmrys posted November 10, 2010:

wolfqueen001:

I'm as pedantic about grammar as the next person, but I think you mis-corrected something there.

unlocks; your subject is "progressing", which is singular.

The sentence actually said 'will unlock.' I think changing it to 'will unlocks' makes it worse, not better. :p
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wolfqueen001 posted November 10, 2010:

haha. Oops. So it did. My head hurts today.

In any case, it doesn't matter. He corrected it my way and just took out "will". I personally think it sounds better that way anyhow.
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Masters posted November 11, 2010:

Great review Gary--even if you're completely wrong. This thing is well written and persuasive: you had me believing everything you said... almost.

Oddly enough, my view of the game is the exact opposite. The single player is a lot of fun and benefits from a sweet graphic style and lots of 'authentic' mumbo jumbo and tough guy jargon and just a high cool factor... but the multiplayer plods along and lacks the pace and punch I enjoyed with Modern Warfare 2.

In other news, Black Ops does nothing for me. It's getting great reviews though... I'm not sure what game these pros are playing.
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EmP posted November 11, 2010:

You're all mad. The single player is rubbish, but I've abandoned Reach to rack up more hours in the multiplayer.

EDIT: I'll expand slightly: the single player offers not one stand out moments. I can remember stand out moments from FPS' I played on the PSX and early era PC, but MoH offers nothing. It's all a blur of seen-before/seen-better. You all disapoint me!

I wonder if I'm the only one.

Thanks for reading and taking the time to share your thoughts.

and for catching the odd typo, some of you
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Masters posted November 11, 2010:

Here's the only wise thing you've said today, Emp:

I've abandoned Reach
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EmP posted November 11, 2010:

Review was written: done, and on to the next one.

I was getting too good at Reach, anyway.
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Ben posted November 11, 2010:

EmP is right. Rare, but it happens! Medal of Honor's single-player is lacklustre.

(Okay fine, I've not played it per se, which makes my whole opinion invalid, but I did see a few hours of it.)
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Suskie posted November 12, 2010:

I was getting too good at Reach, anyway.

Your .87 K/D makes us quiver with fear.

From what I've played of Black Ops' campaign so far (and I am chugging through it ever so slowly), Medal of Honor easily has it beat. Which is funny, because I figured it would definitely be the other way around. I didn't love MoH's campaign and I think Infinity Ward could crush either of these games, but I'd honestly say EA won that particular battle this year, unless the Black Ops campaign really picks up, and fast.

Still, MoH's multiplayer is a disaster, so it's ultimately kinda irrelevant, I guess.
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honestgamer posted November 12, 2010:

The Black Ops campaign does improve as you hit the second half (after the Vietnam stage), definitely. However, it's fairly rough around the edges all around. I haven't played Medal of Honor, but there are some definite points where Call of Duty could have improved that I hope to address in my impending review. I want to spend some time with multi-player before I actually review it, naturally.
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EmP posted November 12, 2010:

Your .87 K/D makes us quiver with fear.

That's more reflective of the fact I was The worst Reach Player in the world when I first started. And, man, I was awful.

I clawed myself up to slightly above avarage before the never-ending games of Infection wore me down.

(MoH online still rocks. I shot a Taliban guy in the face last night with my sniper rifle from across the stage as a demo charge threw him fifty feet in the air. Though my K/D ratio on that is shockingly poor and makes my Reach one look like a world beater.)
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Suskie posted November 12, 2010:

Have you played Reach at all recently? Because Infection has its own playlist now. It's great because now I don't have to play it.
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EmP posted November 12, 2010:

I've not. I was offline for a couple of weeks, so played nothing but single player stuff, then, when I got online, I wanted to get MoH out of the way.

That's pretty good news. Maybe I'll wander back in.
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honestgamer posted November 12, 2010:

Yeah, it was just lovely when I'd go to play an online match and everyone would vote everything down until there was an Infection map to play. Sometimes (most of the time) all I want is a little deathmatch!
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SamildanachEmrys posted November 14, 2010:

Ok, time to actually leave my thoughts on the review. It's generally well written and I agree with most of the points raised about the single player campaign, but the whole thing is a bit one-sided. It does mention that not every aspect of the sub-par solo game is a waste of time, but it doesn't make any similar attempt at balance in its rabid adoration of the online component. There is no mention of the hideous spawning system (leading to many matches being a race to see which team can spawn-camp fastest), for instance. I'm not saying the review should agree with my opinions; I'm saying that just as the campaign has a few redeeming features, the multiplayer has distinct flaws that, even if you don't consider them cripplingly bad, really need to be mentioned.
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EmP posted November 14, 2010:

Before anything else, thanks for your feedback.

The reason I didn't complain about spawning is because I've not had any of the problems you've had. My big multiplayer gripe at the moment tends to be that people are annoyingly good at sniping, but I'm not going to punish the title because other players are better than I. I'll just bitch about it loudly.

The only time I've ever found spawn camping a problem is when I've started sprinting recklessly the second I respawn into the open to either reach an attack/defend point of to try and reach the git who just shot me. On Sector capture, it spawns you in your controlled sector; in combat missions, it either spawns you behind your defensive objective or on your furthest teammate when attacking (another reason to hate bastard snipers who stay half a mile behind the battle).

I get from this topic my opinion on the game is hardly the popular consensus -- baffled by I am by any feeling other than complete indifference towards the single player mode -- but I stand by my praise of the multiplayer.
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Suskie posted November 14, 2010:

My big multiplayer gripe at the moment tends to be that people are annoyingly good at sniping, but I'm not going to punish the title because other players are better than I.

Well, people are annoyingly good at sniping in any online FPS. It comes with the territory. My problem, though, was that the map design was so visually busy that camping was made incredibly easy, since the fastest way to get spotted is if you're actually moving around looking for kills. It felt to me like the maps were designed specifically with camping in mind.

(Sorry that this turned into what it did. This is a good review.)
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EmP posted November 14, 2010:

I love the maps that almost encourage camping. It takes a few attempts, but you can get behind them on go on a huge killing spree. That's the only reason the shotgun exists.

Or, if I want to anti-snipe, the main spots people camp at are used in abundence. So I know if I zero in on one of them, there's a high chance someone will be sitting there.
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SamildanachEmrys posted November 14, 2010:

That's fair enough, EmP, and I'm certainly not contradicting your opinion. If you haven't perceived the same problems that I have you can hardly be expected to comment on them. I assumed it would be impossible for anyone to not experience the fish-in-a-barrel situation that results from spawn points that funnel players along one (occasionally two) narrow channel. But evidently not everyone has found that to be the case. And that's fair enough.

Other than that semi-retracted criticism regarding description of the multiplayer, I found the review was generally good. I think you covered the pros and cons of the campaign well enough, though this is probably aided by the similarity in our opinions. The main thing that troubled me about the campaign was its mediocrity, and I think that's something you conveyed well.

Clearly a number of people disagree, but a review is inevitably an expression of opinion.
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Masters posted November 15, 2010:

Suskie makes a good point... this is probably why I don't like the multiplayer. I'm seriously anti-camping and as such, I don't like those sprawling, busy maps where you poke your head out and lose it. Doesn't help that there's no killcam as far as I know.
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SamildanachEmrys posted November 16, 2010:

I'm seriously anti-camping too, and I found there was too much of it in Medal of Honor. Most online FPSs suffer from camping to some extent, but MoH was the worst I've ever played.

Strangely, though, I like not having a killcam. I don't like having to run the length of the map as soon as you've made a kill just so the recent victim won't get revenge. It's one of the things I like about Battlefield 1943. Maybe I should have mentioned that in my review. (pimp, pimp)
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Masters posted November 16, 2010:

Fear of revenge is what keeps people on their toes and reluctant to camp!
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SamildanachEmrys posted November 16, 2010:

True enough, but I'm not a camper and it annoys me that I have to immediately change direction and run away as fast as possible. I can't continue on my way to wherever I was going. Bah.

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