The lights are on
Here's a riddle:
which came first, the chicken or the egg? While this causality
conundrum has perplexed philosophers for centuries, we gamers have a
similar question... of the brilliant World War II shooters which came
first, Medal of Honor or Call of Duty? The answer is, and I didn't know this, Medal of Honor. But when CoD departed from its WWII roots and changed the landscape of the industry with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, the MoH franchise was left in the dust. However, having played their newest attempt to wrest control from the CoD behemoth,
I'm surprised and happy to say that I really enjoyed it. While you
could say it's just another fish in the overpopulated pond of military
shooters, the gritty realism of Medal of Honor spoke to me... more so than the over the top action of recent Call of Duty titles.
But let's not beat about the bush, Medal of Honor shares a great deal with Call of Duty.
The controls are exactly the same. The action is, for the most part,
almost identical. The gunplay is obviously similar. The level design and
set up is virtually a carbon copy, right down to the obligatory sniping
missions and flyovers by C-130's. All in all, there are far more
similarities than differences. But I think the story in MoH is far more believably realistic and, in its way, far more scary...
follow the exploits of the elite special forces operatives of Tier 1 as
they battle tooth and nail against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Because
the location is in the news everyday, most people
have a passing understanding of not just the unforgiving environment,
but the tenacity of the enemy. The plot is a standard 'war' tale,
typical fodder for movies and games for ages now. It revolves around a
group of soldiers who get screwed over by the top brass. The pencil
pushers in Washington, drunk on American superiority, are concerned with
logistics and the overall outcome nevermind the situation in the field.
But because they are the ones who ultimately call the shots,
tragically those soldiers on the ground sometimes suffer from their
shortsighted ineptitude. It turns into another "We don't leave
our people behind!" story. But a true soldier doesn't leave anyone
behind, regardless of orders, no matter the how overwhelming the odds...
think the reason I found it so compelling is that you can actually
imagine it happening. The infamous, over-the-top action scenes that CoD are more for entertainment purposes than being anchored in reality. In MoH, those
sequences are replaced by what I would more naturally associate with
what really happens in war, or at least what I assume it to be having
never been in battle myself. There is one scene in particular where you
are in the boots of an Army Ranger and everything has gone FUBAR (look
it up if you don't know what it means). Your squad has fallen back to
some dilapidated huts and the Taliban are pouring out of the mountains
to overwhelm your position. Your ammunition is running low, and there is
no hope of survival... well, it's more than a little intense. When I
finished Medal of Honor, I sat there for a moment, although it
was 2 AM, and thought about the people who actually do this... who are
actually fighting half the world away. I'm no fan of the wars that we
are currently involved in, but that's not to say I don't respect the men
and women of our Armed Forces who are risking everything to
bring liberty and stability to those parts of the world that suffer from
oppression and tyranny.
Aside from the narrative, there are some other minor design differences to CoD.
First, while there isn't a true cover mechanic, you can now 'slide'
into cover if you are sprinting and then crouch. Thank you DICE, I
appreciate that... it's nice to be able to get out of the line of fire
more quickly. I also really liked the grenade effects. If one goes off
near you and you manage to survive the blast, the concussion will mute
the surrounding chaos and cause the screen to shudder. I hope and pray
I'm never on the business end of a frag grenade, but I imagine that to
be a fairly accurate representation. The ally AI is pretty good,
although these Tier 1 guys still can't seem to get out of your line of
fire. Sorry I shot you in the ass mate, you probably should have looked
before you moved up! Another addition I liked is the ability to request
ammo. In most games in this genre, you end up using the enemies weapons
against them because you run out of ammunition. By giving you the option
to borrow ammo from your squad mates, you get to keep your superior
weaponry. That is greatly appreciated, I'm sick of dusty AK-47's...
Graphically MoH looks very good, but I think that I'd have to give the nod to the CoD franchise on
this score. The environments, especially the infamous tunnel riddled
mountains of Afghanistan, are very impressive. But sadly, I think that
the explosions, specifically the debris, are far too pixelated and
don't appear nearly as believable. But ironically, when there is a major
explosion and there is dust in the air it looks quite realistic. There
was also some minor texture loading issues at the beginning of some
scenes which was mildly annoying, but the action was pretty smooth over
The sound work is good as well, although I had the same problem with MoH
that has plagued me with most military shooters... when the action
really heats up and the bullets are flying, I can't seem to focus on
what my commanding officer is telling me to do. As a result, I keep
nailing wave after wave of Taliban, but not actually getting anywhere.
It's easy to lose track of your next objective until you finally get
shot one too many times and have to do it all over again. Apart from
that minor complaint about the genre in general though, MoH sounds great. The voice acting, while laden with familiar 'war' cliches, is well done, and the soundtrack is pretty decent.
One of the reasons I think MoH
didn't get reviewed as well as it's contemporary counterparts is
apparently the multiplayer isn't up to par. Considering that online
multiplayer is really the reason most people by these sorts of games,
I'm not surprised. But since I don't play online much, this isn't an
issue for me. All I can tell you is that I enjoyed the single player
campaign more than I have the last several CoD games...
In an over-saturated market chalked full of similar product Medal of Honor
doesn't really do much to distinguish itself from the competition. Is
that necessarily a bad thing though? I'm gonna say no. It's comparing
apples to apples in my opinion. If you like these types of games, it's
definitely worth checking out, but don't be surprised if you catch
yourself sighing at some points and thinking you've done it before,
because you have. But the plot provided me with a surprising insight
into what our service men and women might actually be facing, and
I surprised myself by how much I was affected by it. The camaraderie,
the horror of battle, the sacrifices that are made without hesitation
because it is their duty is delivered to the player in a way I haven't
experienced quite like this before. Perhaps it's a lack of pretension in
the presentation, perhaps it's just the subject matter... I'm not sure.
I know a few people in the military, and whenever we talk about what
they have endured I can always tell it's with a forced patience... like
explaining something to a child. The fact is if you haven't experienced
what they have, you have no frame or reference and can't possibly
understand. While I've always understood that to some degree, it's
surprising and impressive that a video game could drive it home so
Score = 9.0 / 10
P.S. After the story has ended but before the
credits roll, the good people at DICE have put in some text talking
about the real service men and women currently fighting for us around
the world. I won't tell you what it says, but please... take the time to
read it. It made me think... we mustn't forget to appreciate what we
have, and what others have given so that we can enjoy the things that
make us happy no matter how ultimately inconsequential they might be...
like video games;^)
P.P.S. Want to read more reviews? Go to Game Over... continue?!
I can't believe I just read that whole review, It was good just extremely long....I think your score may be slightly high, but it was a very in depth review, good job.