Medal of Honor Beta Impressions
If you’re anything like us here at Attitude Towers, you remember the good ol’ days. The days back when the PlayStation One ruled the console roost, and that one analog stick the N64 had was ‘over-rated’. Remember those times?
If so, then you might remember a little game called Medal of Honor. If you played shooters back in that era, then chances are you know exactly what Medal of Honor is.
We’re pleased to say that many years later, the franchise seems to be ready to try and take back the shooter crown; a mantel that it has since lost to the likes of titles such as Call of Duty and Battlefield.
When you first crack in to the beta, you’re given 2 different game modes to play on 2 different maps. There’s ‘Team Assault’ which is basically just a 12 on 12 team deathmatch playlist, and then there’s ‘Mission’ which is an objective-based game type very similar to the Rush game-mode in Battlefield. In Mission, you’re either playing offense or defense in a 12 on 12 setting, and the map opens up and expands as the attacking team advances and completes assigned tasks.
The game controls well and reminds us very much of Battlefield: Bad Company 2, which isn’t really a surprise when you consider that the development studio, DICE, is behind both games.
Characters move a little slower than in some other FPS’s, but it works well because it feels like your soldier has weight and is really carrying and aiming a gun. The movement and sprinting of the characters does feel just a touch more ‘floaty’ than we’d prefer, but after a few games you don’t really notice it.
If you’ve played any of the newer military shooters in the past year or so, the game’s mechanics will probably feel very natural, and it’s apparent that DICE isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel but rather give us another option if CoD isn’t your slice of pie.
The in-game ranking and challenge system is also very similar to the Bad Company games. You start with only one weapon in each class but you gain attachments like sights and larger magazines as you progress. There are also plenty of game type and weapon specific medals and ribbons to earn, each of which gives you extra XP towards your overall rank and class rank.
Aside from the two rankings listed above, there’s also a skill rank that’s built in to the game. It seems as though it goes as high as 2,000 but you start at zero and your skill ranking will jump around from game to game, depending on how you perform.
It might seem like this is just another version of Battlefield – and sometimes it does feel that way – but DICE has brought a couple of new things to the table.
One of the bigger new features is the ‘score-streak’. It works very similar to the kill streaks that you’ll find in CoD games but in Medal of Honor you can earn those streaks by doing anything that nets you XP. Assists, headshots, earning ribbons, earning medals and completing objectives all count towards your score-streak.
Once you get a certain amount of points in a row without dying, you’re given the option to select between 2 very cool combat bonuses. There are recon planes, mortar strikes and predator missiles that we know of, and there’s sure to be more in the full version of the game.
Another new thing Medal of Honor is adding is the ability to customize your headset. In a smaller deathmatch-style game, you might not want to listen to every Tom, Dick and Harry in the game with a mic, and now you don’t have to. You can change your settings to only hear your teammates, or even only your friends.
Graphically, the core of Medal of Honor seems strong. The environments are large and pretty, and the textures show some real promise.
Unfortunately, there are some visual quirks that stand out in the beta, like a lot of jagged edges on some of the smaller items on the map. Also apparent is fairly large amounts of draw-in on some particular items like rocks and boards, and there are also a few very strange glitches like bright cubes of color that bounce around randomly. Occasionally items will even disappear from right in front of you.
The sounds of the games also show promise, but just like the graphics they need some tweaking. Gunfire, explosions and the screams of enemy soldiers sound all well and fine, but some of the other ambient noises will cut in and out.
There’s also a few audio queues missing, like the sounds of enemy footsteps, which we have to assume was not planned since you can hear your own teammates approach. Remember though, this is a beta and we’ll be reporting all these to the right people – you should too.
Up until now, it seems like Call of Duty has pretty much conquered the fast-paced arena-style military shooter and at the same time it seems like Battlefield has conquered the larger, more tactical, objective-based game types. Medal of Honor seems to be trying to find that niche right between both of them.
The games support a lot of players but the maps are small and move very quickly. Vehicles are supported just like in some of the other Battlefield games, but if you’re not very quick on the draw and have great support by your teammates, you’ll soon find yourself trying to drive a useless pile of rubble.
Overall, it’s very hard to judge a beta like this, because there are a lot of things that don’t work well. We think the important thing to take away from this is that it is in fact a ‘beta’ and the core of the gameplay seems strong. It also doesn’t hurt that DICE has a proven track-record of delivering great multiplayer games.
We’re certainly not guaranteeing this game will be 100% free of some of its flaws when it finally hits shelves, but if the minor bugs and blemishes are what’s holding you back, we’d strongly recommend that you reserve judgment until the final product arrives.
With the market of on-line and military shooters being so strong, it certainly seems as though there’s a place for a game like Medal of Honor, and it seems to us that the game is just different enough to find its own footing as well as its own following. I have a hard time saying that this will conquer CoD or Battlefield, but if it’s another option you’re looking for, look no further, because this option seems like it will be a valid one.