by Ingvi Snædal
previewed on PC
When the original Medal of Honor was released on the Sony PlayStation back in 1999 it was praised for its realistic artificial intelligence, historical accuracy and enjoyable gameplay. In the 11 years this series has been around it has given us games that are simply fantastic and some that are mediocre at best. The original Medal of Honor was ranked as one of the top 25 PlayStation games of all time while Medal of Honor: Rising Sun received criticism for having bad AI and linear level design. Their emphasis on historical accuracy has, however, never come into question.
Since the launch of the Call of Duty series in 2003 the two have been bitter rivals. In the early days of this rivalry it looked like Medal of Honor would have the upper hand. But as it turned out, Call of Duty's multiplayer modes proved too enjoyable and too addictive for Medal of Honor to even stand a chance. Call of Duty went on to win numerous Game of the Year awards and in the years that followed, we have all but forgotten about Medal of Honor, the experienced underdog. This "respawn" of the series couldn't come at a better time though, as many gamers have completely lost faith in Activision's abilities to publish more hit Call of Duty games after the scandal that shook the first-person shooter community to its core. With 3 games currently in the making, Activision seems to be opting for quantity over quality. Sledgehammer's unnamed Call of Duty game is said to "extend the franchise into the action-adventure genre." I can't, in my honest opinion, see how a soldier fighting through hordes of enemies and solving puzzles to get to the coveted Cintamani stone fits in with the series focus on realism.
This new Medal of Honor takes us to the war in Afghanistan. The war is still raging on and 1777 soldiers have lost their lives to date. More casualties are likely to follow before the war is over. The pressure is on EA Studios to honour these men and women by giving gamers a true representation of what they do, how they put their lives on the line every day for their fellow soldiers and why they do what they do. EA Studios have been working closely with the so-called Tier 1 operators, an elite group of soldiers chosen from the Special Forces community, in order to ensure authenticity. Their focus on realism is such that they have given the Tier 1 operators editorial power so the men who have lived it directly control how you will play it. The player will not only get the view of these Tier 1 operators but also experience the big army in action through the eyes of a soldier in the US Army Ranger division.
EA Studios have put such an emphasis on the quality of this game that they dedicated two full studios to its development. EA Studios in Los Angeles is solely working on the singleplayer aspect of the game, while none other then the networking geniuses at DICE in Sweden are developing the multiplayer modes. DICE's reputation for creating top quality multiplayer experiences is well deserved; they are after all the team behind the Battlefield series. Multiplayer was never Medal of Honor's strong suit back in the day but with the aid of DICE, that just might change. The Battlefield series have been the games of choice for players who enjoy large open areas with vehicles for an all out war while the Call of Duty series has done the same for players who prefer tight levels with fast paced action. We already know that Medal of Honor will have vehicle sections but will they incorporate that into the multiplayer? All we know for sure is that the next few weeks will have us franticly looking for clues as to what DICE's plans for the multiplayer aspect are.
Based on Actual Events
From what we have seen, the game will spout top quality graphics and feature everything Afghanistan has to offer: from the lush farmland to the arid deserts the country has become famous for and even the lesser known snowy mountain tops. The game's characters will in fact be fictional characters playing through actual operations. The Medal of Honor series has always had a strong focus on historical accuracy but this time they can get the story straight from the horse's mouth. The Tier 1 operators are as elite as soldiers come so a lot of effort has been put into making the AI exceptionally realistic.
EA Studios have apparently abandoned the solo gameplay the previous Medal of Honor games had become known for, opting for more realistic squad based action where the player will be accompanied by AI squad mates through most of the game. The story, being based on actual events, is sure to keep us locked in our seats throughout the game. This reboot of the franchise looks like it will be a top quality piece of software and comes to us at exactly the right moment, when all hope for the future of realistic first-person shooters seemed lost.