Medal of Honor Xbox 360 Review

Call of Duty can breathe a heavy sigh of relief

by Stephen Carter
Gaming Review

27

Medal of Honor Xbox 360 Review
SRP: £39.99

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When it comes to big names in the gaming world, they don’t come much bigger than the likes of Electronic Arts (EA), with their wealth of leading franchises such as FIFA and Need for Speed. Along with the likes of Activision, they are at the forefront of releasing games annually in the build up to Christmas, regardless of the longevity of the franchise. No more so is this the case with the latest Medal of Honor (MoH) title, as the First Person Shooter market is already a busy one without another addition being thrown into the mix. This wouldn’t be a big issue if it wasn’t for the fact that so many of them tried too hard to knock Call of Duty (COD) down a peg or two, which is usually attempted by ’borrowing’ a lot of its ground-breaking ideas.

One of the key selling points for MoH is the fact that Tier 1 soldiers (those who enter a combat zone first, regardless of their own safety) have been closely involved with EA to make this a more realistic title that reflects actual battle situations. But, for some, this will not appeal to them as they will feel that the setting, in Afghanistan/Iraq, will be too controversial as the conflict it is meant to represent it still on going. This being one of the reasons why for multiplayer, the Taliban have been renamed to OpFor (Opposing Force), in order to avoid being racist and offending anyone, so controversy already surrounds MoH and is a potential downfall.

Being an EA title, MoH has received its fair share of both good and bad publicity, along with plenty of preview shots being released to whet our appetites. For many, this is seen as nothing more than a cheap ‘wannabe’ but the majority have been holding their breath in the hope that this will be as good as rival in-house title, Battlefield. Their expectations are rightly held too as they are renowned, along with the Frostbite engine, for producing an online multiplayer experience that challenges the likes of COD. But this will be their second attempt at rivalling Activision and their last was not that well received based on the quality of its single player, so will the latest Medal of Honor stand a better chance of becoming the new king of shooters?
 
Initially when the single player campaign is loaded up, you’re treated to a cinematic that’s well polished and technically at a high standard, which makes you feel that the rest of the game will follow suit. Unfortunately, this is not the case and these quality visuals are only seen in the cut-scenes between missions, whilst in-game the graphics are of a lower standard. Not so much so that it’s a problem, but they could definitely be a bit better given the time and attention, as was the case with Battlefield 2. One good feature is that all guns sound ‘loud’ and have distinctive tones and echoes depending on your surroundings which shows how attention has been given as to how the games realism can be vamped up.

EA’s latest isn’t without its problems and bugs though as I found out within the first few levels of the campaign. Standing and waiting for a door to be blown off by air support in order to continue, I was treated to black vertical lines across the screen which disappeared in the end but it definitely hindered play. The lighting isn’t great either as interiors are too dark, then as soon as you step outside the game will adjust itself ‘accordingly’ by making it too bright just when it doesn’t need to.

Although the graphics overall are ok, the explosions are very ‘ugly’ and far too pixelated to suit a current generation console, tied with the fact that explosions sound too tame, this reduces the ferocity of what should be a very intense game. EA does try to build tension though through its dialogue, with plenty of swears and shouting, which usually go to waste more often than not as it is quite frankly out of place and unnecessary. The amount of acronyms and army ‘lingo’ that gets thrown around will confuse you too and wish that they would speak in terms that everyone can understand, instead of alienating the majority.
 
Something that is clear is the fact that Medal of Honor’s button layout is a carbon copy of Modern Warfare 2’s, apart from a couple of additions courtesy of Electronic Arts. This will let you ‘pick up and play’ immediately which is a good thing for those who are trigger happy, but that’s where the similarities end in terms of actual gameplay. Those who are brave enough can choose to take on the Veteran mode in Activision’s title, which usually amounts in numerous deaths and swearing at the TV, but EA’s title is far too easy on the hardest setting. Anyone could quite happily complete the campaign with little or no trouble straight away on hard, as the enemy AI is nothing to be feared, more often than not they act as nothing more than bullet sponges. Similarly, they do not fire upon the player with any frightening accuracy and spray bullets left, right and centre, and even when you do get shot you’ll have a hard time of knowing how much more damage you can take. The damage mechanic does tell you where you are taking fire from, but there is no alert to tell you that you are on the brink of being killed.

The biggest challenge of all is overcoming the idiocy of the friendly AI and the bugs and glitches in-game. For example, an open door indicated the next stage of the level which I could not walk through, and then I was plonked on top of a quad bike which I could not drive or dismount. Both of these were very annoying and happened on several occasions after reloading the last checkpoint, meaning I had to restart the level from the beginning, very annoying. Your allies will frequently help you take down your adversaries, but that’s where their co-operation ends as they will stand stationary, oblivious to where the next objective is, leaving you unable to continue until they decide that they want to.

There is a lack of a story within MoH, or if there is, then it is so forgettable that it can be skipped over and ignored and not make a blind bit of difference if it’s understood or not. The game unfolds something like this though; you play as four different soldiers across the Middle East sent to take down the Taliban’s forces and quash their hatred for the Western world. Each section see’s you take part in various missions, which in truth are far too short in length and number, but in their defence they are varied. One will see you spotting targets for an AC-130 gunship and the next you will take the Taliban head-on in order to silence their anti-aircraft positions. All missions seem ‘life-like’ and make you feel that you’re taking part in operations that are on-going throughout the Iraq conflict, so the work with Tier 1 pays off in that respect. Controlling all these characters can be a little heavy and cumbersome though, which detracts from some of the fun of playing but it’s not the game’s biggest gripe by a long distance. Also diminishing the fun is how many headshots you manage to pull off, which seem to occur even when you don’t catch them in the head, whilst the ensuing animation for a headshot leaves a lot to be desired. It seems that the curse of the ‘disappearing head and tomato sauce replacing it’ has struck here too.
 
To say that Medal of Honor’s single player is short is an understatement; it’s far too short. That it can take around four to five hours to fly through is a very poor show on EA’s part as it goes nowhere near in as much depth as the Call of Duty brands, which is clearly its main rival. Tied with the earlier point that the difficulty settings are not consistent, it leaves an altogether sour taste in your mouth upon completion. Replayability is encouraged through Tier 1 mode, which sees you take on time challenges across all levels, and an achievement/trophy for finishing each level below the set par time. This is somewhat of a gimmick though and makes you wonder why they couldn’t have just concentrated more on the campaign, instead of trying to compete with modes such as MW2’s Spec Ops as a fully polished campaign would convert many of Activision’s loyal fans.

There’s no denying the fact that when it comes to online multiplayer, Infinity Ward are one of the best. So, do EA give them a run for their money? Well, no which is probably no big surprise to you as the online multiplayer almost feels as empty as the Liberal Democrats ballot box. There are around eight or nine maps, with three or four of them being tied to specific game modes only, so you’ll see a lot of the same scenery on your tour of duty online. All maps are relatively small and close quarters, reducing the appeal to those who prefer to pick off enemies from afar, which is often a little tricky as there seem to be a couple of problems with the hit detection.

The usual game modes are all present and accounted for with team deathmatch, objective based games and sector control modes, and Combat Mission where you can take on set objectives and scenarios with friends or other online users you encounter. Online is nowhere near as chaotic as MW2, but neither is the destruction on par with Battlefield 2 despite running on the same engine.

Longevity is further lowered with just three set classes to choose from; Sniper, Recon and Soldier but they do have exchangeable gear that is unlocked through levelling each class up individually. Say you reach level three with the sniper; you’ll receive a scope that is attachable to all your rifles, so there is some reward for sticking with one particular class. Ribbons and medals are awarded to players for completing certain ‘challenges’ such as helping out your team mate or reaching a level three killstreak, which I’m happy to report are not as over powered or unfair as those you find in MW2.

So whilst there are good moments within Medal of Honor, it seems to fall at the wayside of other modern FPS games as it lags too far behind them to keep up, which reflects the brand’s recent slump in popularity with gamers. There is no more such a case where the mighty have fallen in the gaming world, as MoH was undeniably top dog throughout the years of PlayStation One and Two. There are far too many bugs throughout the campaign to make it overly enjoyable and it shows the trouble EA are having with keeping up with its main competitors. Tie this with its shortness, the little longevity there is all round, it would probably be better if you waited until the retail price of MoH came well down before you take it on. But if you do buy it, don’t expect a perfect package, there is the odd enjoyable moment thrown in for good measure though. 

Verdict

4
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

Medal of Honor

  • Occasionally enjoyable in places
  • Some good set pieces

3rd place rosette

  • Very short single player
  • Too many bugs
  • Little longevity/replayability
  • Graphics very poor

Medal of Honor Xbox 360 Review

Electronic Arts have shamefully tried to replicate Activision's success by producing a game that mimics Modern Warfare so closely that you could be mistaken for thinking it actually was an Activision title. Were it not for the inferior graphics, poor gameplay and ridiculously short single player campaign then this could have been a title that would have well and truly shaken the first person shooter world. If you are a Call of Duty fan then this will not be the game for you, but any Battlefield fan looking for a quick fix then this will suit your tastes well.

Scores

Graphics

.
.
.
.
6

Audio

.
.
.
.
6

Overall

.
.
.
.
.
.
4

Story

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
2

Gameplay

.
.
.
.
6

Single Player

.
.
.
.
6

Multiplayer

.
.
8

Longevity

.
.
.
.
.
.
4
4
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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