Written by  :  St. Martyne (3655)
Written on  :  Sep 22, 2007
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  2.29 Stars2.29 Stars2.29 Stars2.29 Stars2.29 Stars

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It’s not fun to shoot Nazis anymore.

The Good

However, I should confess that for me the last time it was fun, was in Wolf 3D, back in 1993. Since those times the number of quasi-realistic WWII shooters grew in exponential proportion. Each one bringing new meaning to the words: cliché, copy/paste and ultimate boredom.

So, where does the new Electronic Arts offering in the long-run Medal Of Honor series fit in? Prior to its release in September, 2007, it was marketed as the title which will reboot the series by pumping into its heart fresh ideas and unusual approach. The core feature of the upcoming title was stated to be the non-linear level design.

That was a good move. Since the biggest criticism MoH series received in press, it’s that the whole experience was completely linear with player not being allowed to move a step to the left or right. Only forward, killing hordes Nazis conjuring out of thin air by smart triggers.

This time it’s different. Being an airborne trooper, player is free to overview the whole level and choose an appropriate landing site. That should have left every part of the map open for the initial starting point. The possibilities that became open for the player are mind-boggling. How about dropping in the heart of the enemy, quickly ducking behind the nearby crate and methodically assaulting a dozen of enemies in 10 meters before you? Or landing on the building roof with a sniper rifle? Or setting foot on the water tower? Or flying in the window? Or, maybe…

Well, the fact is that the system works. Not in the way you’re expected, though. There are stills areas that are off limits for you when you’re guiding your parachute down. And given a short drop (40 seconds) and a horrible control scheme it really doesn’t matter that much when you’ve landed.

The gameplay of the game, however, remained unchanged. That will of course please some people, who are looking for an evening of relaxation, shooting Germans and Italians wearing Nazi uniform and feel good about it. I admit that I also had a bit of that guilty pleasure while playing MoH series and its twin brothers, members of Call Of Duty series. The soothing quality of Nazi soldaten jerking in pain after your astounding shot always was the key reason for the high demand on WWII themed games. People fear, people buy. I too fear Nazis, I am happy that I wasn’t alive in 1942 during the Nazi’s occupation of my hometown. And I am glad that now, each year, I have the opportunity to shoot the bastards to hell in the complete safety of my computer room.

Unfortunately, Electronic Arts Los Angeles (the developer of MoH:A) hardly has anything to do with helping me with my psychological problems.

To be done with the Good section, just imagine what a generic AAA class title is, which was developed with enough money to buy a small town in Africa. High-quality motion-capture, realistic booming sounds, pompous orchestrated music with nearly a thousand musicians playing at the same time and grand explosions witnessed from the cinematic angles. If you fancy all that, you’ll get a pretty clear idea of what the positive side of MoH:A essentially is.

And now brace yourself, ‘cause we entering…

The Bad

First and foremost, the game is boring. Yep. No amount of the false innovations (the novelty wears off after a half an hour into the game) will be able to change the fact that rushing through the generic levels (some village, some bunker, some town, you name it) kicking the Nazis butt for 8 hours will become deviously tiresome after the first one. WWII themed games are not suited for a fast-paced action. Period. Check the Hidden & Dangerous series or Operation Flashpoint to see what I mean.

They don’t send legions of evil demons… er… Nazis your way, but make your carefully think about what is that you’re doing if you’re going to survive that war hell. The war is about survival, not about being a Rambo.

The simple human war drama could’ve improved things a lot. If EALA has taken a bit more from Saving Private Ryan movie, which style it’s desperately trying to mimc for a fifth time straight, I would’ve loved it. But as it is, even Company Of Heroes, which is a strategy game, has more tear-inducing moments than this. I don’t even remember what the main protagonist name is, and I’m writing this an hour since completing the game.

The war is pain and suffering. It’s not fun.

Next. Visuals. Bleak and uninspiring. As I mentioned before, Steven Spielberg movie’s color scheme of dark shades of grey and brown remains the working palette for MoH:A as well. In the movie it underlined the despair and lifeless image of war. In MoH:A it underlines the grayness and lack of creative thinking in the minds of art directors behind the title. Even Unreal Engine 3 added to the game as an afterthought is not enough to bring this game to its graphical senses.

So, while technically on the frontline, the art direction the game takes is right from the 1999 when the original Medal Of Honor was released. If you do want some style in a realistic war-themed shooter, play Vietcong.

I could’ve talk more and more about how gameplay system is limited, how stupid the AI remained, how unresponsive the controls are, how videogamish all those kits with red crosses on them look, how American developer once again prefers to forget who has actually contributed the most to the victory of 1945. I could, but I won’t, since all that could’ve been forgiven this game, have it been not so shallow and inexpressibly stupid.

The Bottom Line

If you think of video games as of nothing more than a way to relieve your stress and pet your ego, than go ahead and buy Airborne. It’s more of the same stuff you came to appreciate in the series with a cool parachute thingy twist. There will be enough Nazis to keep you busy for a week, granted you play it only at evenings. The next generation graphics, and full surround audio support never hurt any game either.

But, if you’re looking for intelligent gameplay, unexpected stylistic and artistic decisions and appealing war drama, you won’t find any of that in MoH:A. Why? ‘Cause it’s not the way the WWII games are meant to be played in 2007. That’s what the guys at EA think.

What do you think?