I’ve been stunned. Not by the controversy surrounding the new politically current Medal of Honor (yanky spelling honoured). But by the multiplayer game.
All my expectations were in a Call of Duty: Modern Warfare shaped box. From all the first impressions and reviews on the web, they seemed to suggest something along the lines of a cash-in, an MW (Modern Warfare) clone to make some money for the MoH series.
On the surface, you have a very similar game, without the single player fanfare. Lets ignore MoH’s single player, since it seems largely irrelevant to what makes the game a bit of a hoot.
I jumped into the multiplayer fully expecting to hate it. I am a Battlefield Bad Company man, I expect classes, with specific roles, I don’t want gun-stroking hybrids with lone wolf tattoed over their foreheads. I want teams of soldiers supporting each other. So naturally I have no love for this Modern Warfare clone.
However, a few games in, I notice something is different. There are classes, although only three. Rifleman, Special Ops and Sniper. Bah, no Medic! But glaringly obvious is the need for structured covering fire. The multiplayer levels are so tight, so compact, and so constructed to provide fast paced, bursts of gunning pleasure, that simply require coverage of choke points and effective use of firing arcs. Normally the spawn, run, gun and die mechanic has me squealing like a stuck pig, and bored by the third spawn. However, because of the focus of the levels, coupled with the objective of the “sector control” mode, you suddenly have a fierce action packed team based game of death.
The difference is subtle. And I’m not sure I’ve got a full grip on it, but ultimately Modern Warfare left me cold in all its incarnations, however, I’m thoroughly enjoying this Medal of Hono(u)r experience. Even with the rapid Zerg like spawn times. Frustration seems to have taken a back seat, because the objective and class support via coverage does enough of a job to keep the experience intense enough, that dying is inevitable, but you can learn and adapt in your next re-incarnation.
Snipers have to cover lanes of travel. Its inevitable. Spec Ops have the “up close and personal” covered, with shotguns and sub-machine guns – get stuck in a room with them and you’re toast. They even provide some heavy fire support with RPG’s from the periphery, although they can be quite innacurate and their splash damage isn’t as nasty as you’d imagine. The Rifleman is the precision hit along the corridors of pain, medium range assault rifles and supressing fire from SAW guns coupled with their smoke grenades forces an offensive front in one direction or the other. Battles in Sector Control ebb and flow around the map, usually having three sectors to focus the attention of the combatants, and to provide killing zones to take and lose push after push. I think its the hyper speedy action around these zones of control that really make the experience so much better than your average Modern Warfare round. Its like watching piranha battle it out in a goldfish bowl. Fast, Furious and ultimately about as viscious as it can get.
Medal of Hono(u)r seems to bring Battlefield Bad Company sensibilities to the Modern Warfare crowd. I’m currently loving it. The pace is off the chart! Never have you had to think so quickly, so tactically, and then react. And the class structure gives you a role to fulfill in the combat which ultimately adds purpose to the killing, adds team strategy to the play – something Modern Warfare severly lacks. In fact Modern Warfare’s gameplay hardly seems to have evolved since the days of Quake.
I can’t say it pushed the envelope too much, and it certainly hasn’t got a lot of the options available in Bad Company 2, for the team player, but its worth a taste, for the tangy sweet sherbert buzz you get from the gunnery played at supersonic speeds.
As for the controversy surrounding the game, with its portrayal of the Taliban and then their name change to OpFor, all I can say is that once you start customising your weapons, and both sides get similar setups, you can hardly tell whether your’e wearing a helmet or a turban most games, the sweet action is just so intoxicatingly fast.