So I played and finished the 2010 Medal of Honor game. Tried the multiplayer too. It was overall a mediocre experience, and throughout both modes I couldn't help but feel that the game was in desperate need of another six to eight months of polish and brainstorming, or perhaps a true focus on whether it should be a singleplayer or multiplayer experience.
This is just going to be about the singleplayer, as that was the part that was more interesting to me. Also, spoilers ahead.
What the singleplayer game did right:
- The character dialogue: The devs had real soldiers consulting them, and the dialogue shows it. The use of clockface to indicate enemy location was a neat touch. Also, some real-life special forces in Afghanistan did indeed have huge beards and wore local garb as a sort of social camouflage.
- Representation of the enemy: Accurately, the game acknowledges the existence of Chechen and Arab foreign fighters alongside the Afghan Taliban and if you paid any attention to the audio you can indeed hear these multiple languages (Pashto, Chechen and Gulf Arabic) being spoken, and those are just the ones your squadmates recognized. Speaking of audio...
- The guns sound great. Not that significant, but the few weapons you get to shoot with sound appropriate. Unloading a whole ammo belt with a machine gun is an orchestra of stress relief.
- Peek and lean: A good alternative to the third person cover based mechanic, though how useful this is to you definitely depends on your play style. I stayed in cover a lot, just popping out to look at where the enemy was and see if there was an opportunity to flank them.
- No 'final boss' or 'primary antagonist'. It effectively removes the idea that there is this one dude in charge of the whole enemy faction keeping it all together and emphasizes the fact that the Taliban are a very decentralized force. Took out a leader? They'll just move the next guy up the rank, and the next, and the next...
- Representation of local allies: Quite a large number of Afghans were eager to fight the Taliban, and the game emphasized that they were important to the war effort. Tidbit: 9/11 happened just two days after the assassination of Ahmad Shah Massoud, an Afghan Northern Alliance leader who was a veteran of the Soviet invasion and very strongly supportive of democracy and the arts, as well as an enemy of the Taliban.
- The sniper mission 'Friends from Afar' was fun. Linear, yes, but it wasn't as frustrating as most sniper missions can be. The part where you had to wait for the enemy to find one of their wounded was an interesting part for me.
You may have noticed that very little of what went right were gameplay-related. Unfortunately, this is because the gameplay needs a lot of fixing.
What the singleplayer game did wrong:
- Scripted to the max: As mentioned in the GiantBomb review and as seen in the game's Quick Look, there are parts where there is some serious gameplay and story segregation. What I mean by this is that what you do is secondary to what the game's story wants you to do and what it wants you to look at. The two most notable scenes are the 'campfire' and 'hold the line' parts, where in the first scenario you come upon an enemy camp. Soon as you open fire a dude will run out of a bush and make more smoke come out of the campfire, signalling an attack. Unfortunately, there is no way you can kill that man until after he does the signal, which really bothered me. The 'hold the line' bit, where all your friends are screaming that they were running out of ammo becomes both hilarious and jarring when everyone somehow has hundreds of rounds in reserve for Mister Important (You).
- No civilians? Really? While the game may be loosely based on a real life conflict, it would have been interesting to see civilian characters in the missions. Not as people to escort, but rather to emphasize how terrifying real war is. Families fleeing from a soon-to-be warzone is a common sight in Afghanistan.
- Invisible walls. They couldn't even bother to add rubble or broken junk to block you. It's a big sign that the devs were either rushed, or worse, lazy.
- Enemy AI. The game mentions that the Chechen enemies were better trained and had better equipment than the local fighters, but there was zero difference in how they fought. A potential for elite enemies (not in terms of damage endurance but accuracy, correct use of grenades and flanking abilities) squandered.
- Ridiculously abundant ammo, always ready for requisition from your allies. Not only does this discourage you from picking up and trying enemy weapons, it made the game too easy as well as ruining the aforementioned bit where you were holding the line. This feature should've been easy-mode only.
- Almost-zero freedom when it came to spotting targets with the laser. Wish it was more like in Bad Company, with parts where you could call in a strike on whatever you wanted instead of what the game wanted.
- Gunfighters. Flying in the gunship was cool until you realized that yet again, the game just spots targets for you and you don't have much freedom on what to shoot.
- Friendly AI. Voodoo, Mother, please stop running in front of me when I'm shooting. I know your butts are invincible but really.
- Mistakes in the subtitles. Seems like a minor thing, but boy were there typos. Would've been neat if there was a subtitle feature for enemy dialogue, especially considering it's implied that your squadmates understood some of the enemy's languages.
- Awful textures and texture pop-in. It's made even worse when some parts are detailed with love yet it's surrounded by low-quality rocks.
That's the list of issues for me. I know some might disagree on what the game did right and wrong, and I'm fine with that. Also, when it came to the setting I honestly didn't mind that it was set in Afghanistan. Whether you're in Gardez or in Berlin, I wouldn't care where I am as long as the gameplay's fantastic, which unfortunately isn't really the case here. They did a lot of effort in the 'realism' aspect (representation of enemies and allies) without putting in more effort for the 'game' part.
So what about you? What do you think they did right or wrong?