In: Reviews by Nick "Alsop Live" Dinicola15 Jul 2010
Comparisons like this are inevitable for several reasons: First, Medal of Honor was a WWII shooter that jumped into the modern world, just like Call of Duty. Second, the developer of Bad Company 2 is working on the multiplayer for Medal for Honor. Third, and most importantly, the moment-to-moment gameplay feels exactly like Modern Warfare 2, but you’re playing with the rules of Bad Company 2. EA DICE, the developer, definitely knows how to imitate the competition.
You play as either United States forces or Taliban soldiers. Yes, you can play as the Taliban; Medal of Honor is certainly committed to its real-world setting. It may seem like a controversial decision (I’m sure some news network will run a story about it upon release), but for gamers it doesn’t change a thing. All controversy goes out the window when the shooting starts. It doesn’t matter what team you’re on, T1 Operatives or Taliban, SAS or Marines, COG or Locust, Red or Blue, this is a team competition and you’ll want your team to win. Pitting soldiers against terrorists is actually a wonderfully practical design decision because it’s easy to tell friend from foe. There’s no mistaking one for the other, even from a distance.
As for the actual gameplay, the beta offers two game modes, Mission Assault and Team Assault, though they may as well be called “Bad Company 2” and “Modern Warfare 2.”
Mission mode is an objective-based battle that has the Taliban always defending and T1 Operatives always attacking. The interesting twist here is that each objective plays like a different game type. The match begins with US forces trying to destroy a roadblock with C4, and the action plays out like a round of Rush in Bad Company 2: Both teams swarm the objective, turning the area into a bloodbath until one suicidal soldier breaks through the fire and plants a charge, unleashing even more hell as every player turns their attention to a single spot on the map. Once the roadblock is gone US forces are tasked with clearing out a machine gun nest, and this plays like a round of king of the hill. The rest of the objectives vary between these two game types.
Team Assault mode is your standard team deathmatch. It’s shocking how much this feels like Modern Warfare 2, and it’s all because of the speed. Every action your character performs feels speed up to an unnatural degree. This may be unrealistic, but it’s necessary to match the pace of Infinity Ward’s shooter. Like in that game, one-on-one encounters are often decided before a single shot is even fired: If you have to think about shooting you’re already dead; pulling that trigger must be instinctual.
Medal of Honor clearly wants to be like Modern Warfare 2, and nowhere is this more obvious than with the implementation of killstreaks — wait, scratch that, “pointstreaks.” You’re awarded 10 points for every kill, with a little extra for things like headshots, revenge kills, etc. With every 40 points you earn in a single life you unlock a Support Action. In the beta this means a motor strike, though I’ve been killed by rocket strikes and artillery strikes as well (I’ve never earned more than 60 points in a life so I don’t know what’s beyond that first reward). Hopefully in the full game there will be more options for customization in this regard.
On the other hand, the progression system borrows heavily from Bad Company 2 in that it revolves around classes. There’s no overall ranking, as you earn points you rank up in a class and unlock more equipment for just that class. It’s an interesting system, but it subtly discourages switching classes because you’re essentially downgrading all of your equipment.
Based on this beta, there doesn’t seem to be anything original in Medal of Honor because it borrows so heavily from the other two big modern-day shooters everyone is playing. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially if you’re a fan of those two big modern-day shooters. In many ways it’s the perfect marriage of Bad Company 2 and Modern Warfare 2, combining the most popular aspects of each game into one.
Personally, however, this beta has done more to turn me away than get me excited. I rarely play Modern Warfare 2 specifically because the action moves so fast. I simply can’t keep up. So if Medal of Honor insists on matching that pace I might have to pass on it, or pass on the multiplayer at the very least. However, I can’t fault DICE or Electronic Arts for taking the game in this direction. Considering the insane popularity of Modern Warfare 2, I’m clearly in the minority, and that’s clearly the audience they’re targeting.