The Medal of Honor series is one which enjoys provoking very mixed reactions out of gamers. Some people love the games for the semi-realistic feel and accessibility, while others hate a series which they feel is just trying to copy games like Call of Duty 2 without doing anything new at all.
Well, EA has been doing their best to turn those sceptics around lately and has been integrating a few new things into the series’ latest effort – subtitled Airborne. These range from giving players a chance to actually parachute into the level, thus choosing almost any vantage point to start the battle from, to a new health and weapons system.
But do these new changes make a difference for the better or the worse? Is the game now even better than ever, or is it even more limp than a ragdoll in a blender? The forums have been alight with discussion about the game’s demo and many of you will have been arguing the case one way or another.
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Well, now it’s our turn to talk - so strap on your ‘chute and prepare yourself for another typically thrilling bit-tech review. We’re sure you can barely contain your excitement. Sigh.
Just dropping in...
Let’s grab ourselves some context to all this before we go anywhere else. Airborne casts players as Boyd Travers, an unfortunately-named Paratrooper in the middle of the second World War. A Private First Class of the 82nd Airborne Division, it’s the job of Boyd and his platoon to parachute into the thick of it and start kicking off some serious mischief.
The levels in Airborne are all focused in Europe and all involve the usual objectives of ‘go here, blow up that’ but with a few added bonuses on top. The first and foremost being that you get to fling yourself out of the plane at the start of the level and can then control your descent to some degree, landing wherever you please, just like the Paratroopers of yore.
Of course, some areas are safer than others and there’s a fair deal of discouragement to stop you landing in the wrong places – discouragement mainly appears in the form of enemy bullets – but by and large you’re free to land wherever you want.
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What’s more, each level has five pre-designated destinations which you can land on to earn medals and rewards. Called ‘skill drops’, they can usually be spotted from above and are marked by discarded parachutes, though some of the harder ones can be a real pain to find. Thankfully, traversing levels on foot still allows Boyd to find these skill drops, with prompts appearing to let you know that you are near one.
The main issue here is that it can sometimes be a pain to successfully land on a skill drop and even if you are pre-armed with the knowledge of where they are it can still be hard to hit the right spot. Thankfully, the 'chutes are easy to control and descent can easily managed for a variety of different landing styles – the most commonly seen one being ‘Botched Landing’, which gives Boyd the penalty of getting tangled in his chute and having to struggle loose.
It’s these little touches which really make the parachute drops fun – the actual plummet itself isn’t that scary or long, but there’s a great deal of satisfaction to be had once you’ve mastered your ‘chute and can execute a Flared Landing into the middle of a camp, effortlessly joining the battle.
Of course, once you’re on the ground it’s a whole different ball game and you’ll be limited to moving on foot through skirmish after skirmish. Good thing then that the game has seen a lot of tweaks to the original formula in the combat department too...