Medal of Honor Preview

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Medal of Honor's initial beta was… not good. You had to shut the game down through the task bar if you decided to bring up the chat for whatever reason. The game just stopped responding to any of your inputs. Hit detection was all over the place, the lethality of a bullet varied from overpowered to curiously underpowered. The game also loved to crash. Well, okay, Medal of Honor's initial beta was… bad. Sure, it was a beta, but with so many problems aggressively hellbent on making it nearly unplayable, you had to wonder, would the game be worth anything in this incredibly competitive multiplayer space?

After the open beta, I can say that it definitely has a chance of being relevant. It definitely borrows from just about any popular military-themed shooter that's come out in the last half decade, but manages to find new ways to go about presenting and utilizing all the mechanics and ideas of Modern Warfare and any other games of its ilk. The popular phrase for Medal of Honor's multiplayer seems to be “It's like Bad Company 2 and Modern Warfare saw something in each other, went out for a few weeks, fell madly in love and then conceived this adorable package of extreme military multiplayer game.” This is partially true.

 

The game looks and sounds like Bad Company 2. The kind of scale and war-like atmosphere that Bad Company 2 did so well is fully present in Medal of Honor. The game sounds great; the guns sound awfully deadly and receiving a bullet wound sounds absolutely painful. Explosions, the constant and persistent screaming from soldiers on both sides creates the kind of intensity that DICE does a great, great job of creating. That's pretty much all that it takes from Bad Company 2, the atmosphere.

The game plays and is designed like Modern Warfare. The sizes of the maps available in the open beta are small, emphasizing infantry combat. It's probably the reason DICE didn't up the cap to 32 for the PC version, like they did for Bad Company 2, because any more players than the 24-player count would make for an irritating and confusing brand of chaos.

From the total lack of recoil to the size of the maps, Medal of Honor screams Modern Warfare. It finds much-needed disparity in a few key areas. Instead of kill streaks, there are scorechains. The difference between the two is that Medal of Honor asks you to hit a certain score before you die. Kills, kill assists, capturing points and even using a scorechain reward counts toward your point quota. Each new tier of a scorechain presents both offensive and defensive actions. Do you call in the rocket strike or do you hand your team out match ammo? FMJ bullets or flak jackets for your entire team? It's a fun take on the kill streaks.

 

The beta came with two game modes: Combat Mission and Sector Control. If you've played Bad Company 2, the analogy would be Combat Mission is to Rush as Sector Control is to Conquest, because that's exactly what they are, just without the scale of Bad Company 2. Combat Mission is all about securing one objective after another as the attackers, while the defenders stop that from happening. It's absolutely brutal when on the offensive front due the lack of potential flanking routes and cramped spaces, while the defenders are practically encouraged to camp and take potshot of anyone trying to take an objective. The one-sided nature of this mode and map makes it hard to recommend as the mode to play in Medal of Honor.

Sector Control, on the other hand, is the mode to play in Medal of Honor. It's about capping points, multiplying the number of points you get until you eventually win. It emphasizes movement and running all over the map to do your part. It's the more dynamic, varied and fair mode and it's where I spent the majority of my open beta time.

What else? Well, the game goes with classes instead of creating your own and considering how these two maps in the open beta were designed – long lines of sight for both sides, straight routes that go from one end of the map to another – it's kind of required that there are certain, permanent load-outs for each class. For example, the rifleman class, the tip of your offensive line, comes with smoke grenades instead of frags, making him the go-to class for creating portable cover to make it to other side without being torn apart. There are still plenty of load-out options for each class, with presumably plenty of weapons, and sight and ammo types for each class once the game makes it to release.

 

Medal of Honor is only a few days away now and if the open beta has done anything, it's made me actually consider buying the game. There's a solid multiplayer game here and if the rest of the maps and modes can deliver, than it might have the kind of staying power that it aspires to achieve. You've got Black Ops, you've got Bad Company 2: Vietnam and you have Medal of Honor… maybe. It has a chance and that's more than you could say for the dozens of other shooters trying to make their way into this multiplayer space.

 

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