Gamescom 2010: Medal of Honor – Hands-On Impressions
Three years, that is how long it has been since the last Medal of Honor game was released. It’s no real surprise though because, with all due respect, the series had hit a rather large brick wall. The last game in the series (Airborne) had solid shooting mechanics but was a little dull, especially when you compared it to the likes of Modern Warfare.
As most of you will know, the series is now getting a reboot. The creatively titled Medal of Honor will take the series into a more modern setting (the 2001 war in Afghanistan) where gamers will (mostly) play from the viewpoint of “Tier One Operators”. Realism and authenticity is the name of the game, well…that is what EA keep saying anyway. The validity of their claims is a discussion for another day though. Right now, you’re here to read impressions of the “Gunfighters” mission that was playable behind closed doors at Gamescom 2010. Well, at least we hope you are anyway!
The “Gunfighters” mission (as the name suggests) puts the player in the role of a gunner on a Apache helicopter. It takes place somewhere well into the game and tasks you with taking out several Taliban “strongholds” around a specific area in Afghanistan. The locations you fly over are great to look at, mostly consisting of mountains and dust but, still, there is no doubting the quality of the visuals. The way the dust blows around as your Apache hovers over the dusty terrain was especially impressive. EA titles are well known for their visual fidelity and Medal of Honor is no different in that respect.
“How does it play though?”, you ask. To be honest, it’s not too disimilar to vehicle based or on-rails missions you would have encountered in other first person shooters but that doesn’t stop it from being fun. You have access to various weapons which include your standard machine gun turret and missiles but you also can bombard the enemy with hellfire missiles. These come in use when a specific target area has been marked for you on-screen, you basically hold down the corresponding button (L2 on the PS3) for a few seconds and unleash destruction upon the enemy. Ammo itself seems to be unlimited, all you really have to do is make sure your machine gun turret doesn’t overheat or wait a couple of seconds (at most) for your missiles to reload.
You can “die” or, more accurately, fail to complete the mission and this is usually as a result of being too slow to take out targets on the ground. That is fair enough but there was one particular part of the mission where “death” seemed to be unavoidable, at first (second and third) glance anyway. During this part of the mission you are tasked with taking out a few anti-air encampments the Taliban have set up across a mountain. It is easy enough to take out the first few but one of them is really hard to spot and even random spamming of the machine gun turret or missiles doesn’t seem to do the job. The mission was completed eventually but it must be noted that other journalists also seemed to struggle a bit during that part of the mission. Hopefully this was noticed by members of the development team and is sorted in time for the games release in October.
To touch briefly upon the realism aspect that EA keep talking about, the games Product Manager (Mr Kevin O’Leary) mentioned that all the radio chatter you hear throughout the mission is very realistic. He stated that the development team worked closely with a real Apache team to get that added layer of authenticity into the game. It certainly is very believable, so kudos to EA in regards to that particular aspect.
All in all, the “Gunfighters” mission serves as a nice taster for the Medal of Honor single player campaign mode. Sure, it didn’t show off any actual first person shooter mechanics but it showed us that it can certainly match up to the Call of Duty series when it comes to showpiece missions. To think, that wasn’t even the whole mission. Mr O’Leary “snatched” the PS3 pad away at a certain point and paused the game. His reason? Well, he said he didn’t want to spoil the surprise. Hmm, roll on October.