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So far the new Medal of Honor game is best known for the hooplah over the fact that its multiplayer called one of factions “The Taliban”. This was considered offensive to persons in the military, but was resolved weeks ago by renaming the bad guys the “Opposing Force”. Gamers, who probably never cared about the controversy in the first place might still be wondering what this new installment in the franchise has to offer, aside from the moral panic over the team names. With the game’s imminent release Player Affinity will take a look at what is to be expected.
This new Medal of Honor is a reboot of the franchise, taking the series out of its traditional World War II setting and placing it in modern times during the 2002 Coalition invasion of Afghanistan. Emphasis is on realism, rather than casting the player as an inhuman killing machine. So, instead of following one super-soldier who improbably survives battle after battle, the single-player campaign will put the player in the boots of various soldiers in numerous locations during that time period.
This is a novel story-telling concept, and is certainly more cerebral than what comes with most military shooters. Early preview videos of the single-player campaign seem to be a cut above the standards of the genre; a lot of thought obviously went into choosing the right setting, and securing a sense of authenticity. Of course going into each level, knowing your character may not survive is liable to give players a greater sense of mortality than knowing that their avatar can’t possibly die until the final cut-scene.
The multiplayer game is built with a different game engine, and made by a different developer. DICE has done some great work on the Battlefield series for EA, especially the downloadable title Battlefield 1943 which showed how online shooters can be whittled down to just a few maps and a handful of weapons, but still be tons of fun to play.
The recent Multi-player beta test showcased the online aspect of the game. One thing that distinguishes Medal of Honor from rival franchise Call of Duty is that MoH uses a class system of Rifleman/ Spec Ops/ and Sniper (The same type Rock/ Paper/ Scissors trilogy which was used to balance Battlefield 1943). Weapons and equipment are unlocked as players accumulate points and level up. Unfortunately some of these perks are available at start with Collector’s editions of the games.
The beta test offered two maps and game types, which avoided the standard Death Match style of play and revolved around more strategic play, again revealing the game’s roots in Battlefield. Although there are infinite respawns, players who do well during one lifespan will gain access to special “Support Actions” in their next life, which offer an incentive to value every spawn, but won’t unbalance the remainder of the match.
In a market already glutted with similar titles, it will be a struggle for this franchise reboot to carve out it’s own space. The single-player campaign might be excellent, but too many shooter fans skip over the campaign and go straight to multiplayer. Unfortunately, long-term popularity will most likely be determined by the caliber of the community that sticks around, rather than any features the game itself offers.