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Medal of Honor Review

Medal of Honor Review

Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platform: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
UK Price (as reviewed): £26.99 (inc VAT)
US Price (as reviewed): $59.96 (exc tax)

It’s all a load of rubbish, really, all of it. The action, the graphics, the stability, the marketing push that has seen EA label the Medal of Honor series as a way to honour the armed forces, the spelling of ‘Honor’; it’s all rubbish.

Medal of Honor is a fairly standard modern day shooter set in Afghanistan which has traded controversies and pleasantries in order to stay in the limelight. Now that it’s actually arrived it’s fairly easy to see that it wasn't deserving of all the hype anyway, because at its very best it’s only mediocre and predictable. At it’s worst, well…

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That headscarf kind of ruins the camouflage

Medal of Honor doesn’t feel like a Medal of Honor game, it feels like an poor expansion pack to Call of Duty. That description is painfully easy to make based on the on-going rivalry between the games and sudden change in settings that both have undergone, but that doesn’t make it any less apt. Medal of Honor has tried to reboot itself, but it ends up feeling tired and over-familiar. There’s nothing new here, just boxy canyons punctuating samey turret sequences.

There’s little story to speak of in singleplayer and what is there is hastily and almost arbitrarily delivered. At the end of the first mission an Afghan informant tells the much lauded Tier 1 soldiers (or, in non-marketing speak, special forces troops) that the Taliban is hiding in the hills, starting a cascade of linear missions in which American soldiers mow down thousands of faceless enemies to a punk-rock soundtrack. While that may be what we’ve come to expect of modern shooters, it’s worth pointing out that most shooters are entirely fictional. In choosing to use a real, on-going war as a setting Medal of Honor opens a Pandora’s Box of problems, not least of which is the questionable taste of the Medal of Honor’s overly patriotic and dangerously one-sided tone.

To put it simply, the tone of the game could easily be seen as a problem for some sensitive or affected audiences, while to the more cynically minded it’s naught but a desperate grab for credibility and attention. The scenarios used by the Medal of Honor aren’t explored in any real depth, nor with any of the gravitas or care that they deserve. It’s therefore nothing but a mindless, possibly offensive, shooter.

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He has the cold, dead eyes of a killer

Disappointingly, the actual action isn’t all that well put together either, with players pushed through a series of pretty dull and utterly transparent levels that do nothing to distract from the other faults littered through the game. Linear, slow driving sequences are bolted into some levels seemingly just to prolong the play time and while you're on foot you always seem to be waiting for the AI support to run over and open the next doorway for you.

Of course, to make the AI actually do that then you’ll need to kill everybody yourself beforehand, as the NPCs are apparently incapable of doing anything for themselves. We reckon their guns must only be loaded with tracer rounds, as we once watched three other Tier 1 soldiers fail to take out a single enemy even after three minutes, despite the fact that they surrounded him at close range. They refused to budge until we waltzed up and dealt with him on their behalf.