While EA LA are handling the single player game, Battlefield veterans DICE are in-charge of multiplayer. After the success of the BF series, we’d say it’s in good hands. The matches in the beta have up to twelve players on each side with the maps being just the right size for the numbers meaning you never go too long without snapping up your gun sights.
The two maps available displayed the two different modes currently on offer. The Afghanistan capital city of Kabul map is a warzone as the US Rangers face off against the insurgents in a team deathmatch style contest called Team Assault. Points are awarded for kills, headshots and chaining kills. Spawn points are usually well placed as they won’t dump you in the sights of the enemy. They’ll move around the map based on where the rest of your team are. At the beginning of a match the two teams will start at opposite ends but it’s not unusual to find yourself swapping sides several times. This is great as it means no team has a specific advantageous position that they can stubbornly dig into taking the pace out of the game.
There are lots of buildings with upper and lower floors to explore along with lots of narrow corners to ambush people. There are constantly pieces of debris floating through the air too which adds to the warzone atmosphere. Wooden fences will disintegrate under fire, but buildings don’t get blasted apart Battlefield-style.
The second map is in the countryside setting of Helmand Valley. The match here is more about gaining ground and taking positions in a mode simply entitled ‘Combat Mission.’ The US soldiers have to blow up a roadblock first to get their tank through. Then a bunker with missile defence systems needs to be taken out before a final assault at the building on top of a hill at the other side of a deep valley that’s a gauntlet of joy for snipers taking out brave/foolish dashes. The rest of the landscape is made up of ruined buildings with lots of low stone walls or window gaps to peek from. My experience on this map left me with the impression a bit of balance tweaking may be needed as it seems that the attacking side win most matches.
You’re never far from the action in Medal of Honor’s multiplayer, which is great if you’re new or just having one of those days of getting your ass kicked. I never had to wait more than five seconds to respawn as well which is pretty damn impressive and really takes the edge off frustrating deaths.
The lack of a kill-cam can be annoying when you’ve no idea where you’re getting nailed from, but in another way it’s kind of refreshing if you’re the one dishing out the pain you don’t have to worry about moving straight away while your latest victim makes a revenge-beeline for your position.
Weapons are mixed between three classes of Rifleman, Special Ops and Sniper who each have their own sets of secondary weapons such as rocket launchers, underslung grenade launchers or remotely detonated bombs (fancy digital ones for the US, old Nokia-style mobiles for the insurgents).
It takes ages to unlock new weapons, some of them aren’t even as good as the ones you start with such as the M4 or the shotgun that has the poorest boomstick rate of fire ever and won’t put someone down in one shot to the chest even from five feet. You can change your character class and their loadout from the respawn screen though, so you don’t have to worry about a whole match being ruined. The sniper rifle is only mid-range to begin with as it’s missing a scope (one can be unlocked though). The sound the gun makes though is incredible, it’s just a shame its bark is worse than its bite. Each character class is levelled up individually which to be honest may put people off playing with all of them as they won’t want to get left behind as everyone else earns the better guns and attachments.
Support Actions can be unlocked during matches by chaining a few kills together. You can either go for a mortar-strike or opt for a team boost such as extra armour or radar assistance. There’ll be more actions in the final game, but hopefully not to the extent of MW2 which kind of lost it a bit with constant hosings from harrier jets and so on.
Is the setting of the game all a bit close to the bone? The WWII games had the advantage of the war being over for ages and with an audience that had spent 60-70 years in history lessons understanding the conflicts. With Afghanistan being the main focus you could argue it’s a bit too real and now. Call of Duty Modern Warfare kind of coughed into its hand when mentioning country names even though we all knew what it was based on. On the plus side, the Medal of Honor franchise has always done a good job of respectfully portraying its soldiers and the conflicts. I’d say it’s a fair bet they’re not going to embarrass gamers with a MW2-style airport level.
Gameplay wise, there are a few moments of first-person climbing annoyances. You know when there’s a ridge you can sort of jump up onto but you’re not really supposed to be able to get up there. Isn’t it about time we should be allowed to climb up anything that wouldn’t be a problem in real life? Mirror’s Edge made some excellent progress with this but the only shooter that seems to be continuing the effort is the upcoming Brink. Oh and sniping fans, bad news, you can’t lie prone.
There were a few moments where I’d unload a full clip into someone and they wouldn’t die and headshots getting shrugged off which I’ll put down to the beta blues. Towards the end of the beta, lag didn’t really seem to be an issue, apart from the odd bit of surreally getting lassoed back ten feet sometimes. It’s a big improvement over the first few days anyway when the game would fatally crash one in three matches, sometimes more frequently. A patch fixed this though, so I’m confident the final version will be a smooth experience.
Launches October 2010
Sure it’s going to raise a lot of comparisons with the Modern Warfare games, hell the music sounds pretty much identical. But seeing as Infinity Ward has fallen apart, there’s no reason that Medal of Honor can’t fill the gap. Matches we’ve played so far have been well-paced and fun experiences and we can’t wait to try out some more maps and modes.