Review – Medal of Honor (2010)

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PC
Publisher – EA
Buy

I’m told that Medal of Honor games were good once upon a time. I started Allied Assault about twenty times but to this day, I couldn’t bring myself to finish it. In fact, this is the first Medal of Honor game I have played all the way through. It’s hopefully the last.


Make no mistake, Medal of Honor is a triumph on a purely technical level. Even six years on it looks beautiful. The problem is that there’s not much game there. It’s basically a 5 hour shooting gallery. Call of Duty fills those five hours with interesting variations on the FPS. You might get dropped into a crazy environment. Maybe you’ll get a great new one-time-only weapon that makes your enemy explode in a really satisfying way. In one sequence you get to shoot enemies while charging down a mountain on a ski-bike. Who wouldn’t want to do that!?

Medal of Honor lets you crouch behind cover in one environment and shoot enemies with the same weapon. Barring a couple of on-off diversions that’s about it.

The game handles fairly well. It does struggle with clunkiness on occasion. On an ATV level, to prevent you from overshooting important trigger points, the game takes control of your ATV and slows you down. Unfortunately it does this about 50 metres too early and just feels really sluggish. You retain some level of control but you’re very aware that the game is calling the shots and immersion is completely broken.

I like a big, dumb FPS as much as the next guy. I’m probably the only person alive who plays CoD games for the single-player campaign. What’s great about CoD is that it knows it’s big and dumb so just fucking runs with it. You can’t get bored because what you’re seeing is so unapologetically mental that you just get swept away with it. Medal of Honor tries to be gritty and realistic but fails miserably. The story is…well…I don’t remember it and finished the game 20 minutes ago. It tries to show the horrors of war with a grisly ‘schlup’ sound when you headshot a guy but once you’ve done that to a hundred identical enemies, it has no emotional impact.

And when I say identical, I’m not ‘unable to tell the difference between those buggers’. Every character model is identical. The only variation is that some are Taliban and others are Chechens. They may as well have modeled one fairground duck with a target on it’s back. At least that would have made me laugh. Instead I just felt dead inside.

The sad thing is that some very talented people worked incredibly hard on this game. Thanks to the Frostbite engine it has breath-taking moments. I can’t help think that it was rushed out of the door 12 months early.