Quick Medal of Honor review

Quick is right, because that was my exact feeling after finishing the single-player campaign for EA’s new Medal of Honor game. More on that later. While I’ve done a lot of film reviews in the past (for my college newspaper the Foothill Sentinel), but this is my first, short-and-sweet game review. Ah if only I could be included in the Metacritic scores…

A quick overview for folks that haven’t heard anything about the game or genre. This is a first-person shooter set in the Middle East — Afghanistan and surrounding areas — which differs radically from previous MoH games that were set in World War II. For campaign mode, it’s a closed-world environment where all action is “on rails” (meaning that you can’t go wherever you want like in Red Dead Redemption and Grand Theft Auto). This review is going to focus solely on the single-player campaign mode. While multiplayer mode is one of the game’s selling points, most of the emphasis should be on single-player for those players (like me) that will never play multiplayer.

Graphics and Sound: 95

First off, this game is just beautiful! The graphics on the PS3 are outstanding and hyper-realistic, with excellent use of lighting, character modelling, and terrain. At times, I was so immersed in the game that I actually stood up next to the TV and dodged and weaved while “following” the rest of my squad. The sound is also spot-on, and in some missions was nearly overwhelming with gunfire, grenade hits, troops shouting, all in a cacaphony of fighting chaos. By far, the sound and graphics are the stars of this game and a real showcase for technical excellence.

Controls and Gameplay: 88

Controlling your soldier is fairly intuitive and fluid. As with most FPS games, you can adjust from a number of preset control configurations, including inverting the X-axis (for you flight simulator buffs). My only complaint in the default config was that the “Run” control was to hold down the L3 button, while also trying to direct your soldier with the same control. Half the time I came out of my “run” in the most inopportune time.

Mission Design: 90

The missions are extremely varied, from rescue missions, to Apache helicopter sorties, along with both solo and squad-based action. As I mentioned earlier, all missions are on rails, so you have very limited options to flank your enemies. When you’re maneuvering with a squad, they tend to ignore where you are hiding, and occasionally pop up right in your line of fire. Also, while I understand that this game is all about your soldier, your squad is terrible at taking out enemies which forces you to pretty much wipe out all the enemies yourself. There was also one mission that took forever because it was unclear what weapon to use on the reinforced bunker. An hour and a half later, I managed to figure it out.

Campaign: 70

The campaign itself (what there was of it) was quite well executed. But, and this is a big BUT, it was criminally short in length. Playing at the hardest setting, the entire single-player campaign took me only nine (9) hours to complete. One and a half hours of that was replaying the Apache mission to figure out the correct weapon to use. For a game that costs over $50 MSRP, I expect a LOT more than nine hours of gameplay. I’d rather have the multiplayer aspect be an afterthought (or eliminated) in lieu of a full-sized campaign.

Overall: 85

A solid “B” effort on this version of Medal of Honor. While the graphics and sound were superlative, the AI was a bit weak, and single-player campaign was woefully lacking in length. And don’t tell me that you can try to replay each campaign mission in “Tier 1” mode (where you have to complete the entire lengthy mission without dying) is enough. Indeed, it may give you more hours of play, but it’ll also give you a lot more hours of frustration because in the hardest difficulty level, you’re likely to get killed 10+ times per level. Hopefully EA will take the reviews to heart and make changes for the next iteration, because so much of the game is pure goodness, but it ends up leaving a bit of a sour taste in your mouth.