Medal of Honor: Airborne
Review by Shadow9392
"Has major flaws that leech fun from an enjoyable experience"
A new twist on the World War II genre attempts to breathe a final breath of life into a series that has been done to death. Medal of Honor: Airborne (from here on referred to as MoHA) does an admirable job in trying to finish off the World War II genre after the Call of Duty franchise has moved on.
The story is simple: you are Private First Class Boyd Travers, a new member who has just enlisted into the 82nd Airborne Division of paratroopers: soldiers who parachute into battle, often behind enemy lines, to len a decisive hand in battles such as D-Day and Market Garden. While many WWII game fans have played these battles before, the new twist gives them surprising new life. You get to parachute in wherever you want, yes (more on that in the gameplay section), but there are other twists. You play in different locales of the older battles. For example, Airborne has you doing D-Day in reverse. The new and old battles alike make MoHA's short but mostly enjoyable World War II campaign more compelling to play tha 'big brother' Call of Duty. The only odd thing in the story is that your squad-mates seem to always know your name, but your protagonist is mute and the allies are nameless. Everyone seems to be chummy with you, but PFC Travers seems to have as much ability to talk as a mute. Still, the lack of originality hurts.
The gameplay is seamless at first. Once you adjust the controls to your liking [I prefer the Halo/Call of Duty hybrid of scheme 2 over the MoH default], you get to shoot Nazis until the cows come home with relative ease. The first five of seven missions are fun, not-too-difficult (but still challenging), and action-packed. The controls are genius. You can (finally) lean around corners and even move while aiming down the sight of your weapon, a feature not even present in any of the Call of Duty's (not even the upcoming CoD4). To compensate, there is no prone feature, but leaning and peeking more than makes up for the lack of the ability to lie down. The problems come towards the end of the story. The final two missions are enemy-filled and insanely difficult, even for veteran gamers. Even on the lowest difficulty, the second-to-last mission, Operation Varsity, is a sniper-laden trap that makes it impossible to cross the open spaces between objectives without enormous amounts of luck. The final mission, while devoid of snipers, has so many enemies that you may be leaning and peeking until the next millennium. At the end of the story, the game throws you a near-impossible twist: defeat 10 level 10 enemies at once. if you have no grenades, the finale is marred by your repeated dying and lengthy reloads.
The weapon upgrading aspect of the game is a new and neat perk that adds immense replay value to the campaign (especially for achievement aficionados). If you kill enough enemies with one weapon, it will increase your experience. There are three levels, and therefore three upgrades. While the weapon upgrades aren't the quality of Bioshock's, they certainly do make the experience slightly easier and more entertaining.
The multiplayer is great, and reflects the best moments of the single player experience. While lag often drags the action down, finding a good server brings out the best in the game. With a small map complement and very few modes, the multiplayer suffers some, but is still enjoyable. One side parachutes in while the others have the ability to pick the jumpers off as they plummet to the ground, which can get annoying if teammates don't feel like helping out.
Level Design: 8/10
The levels are open, allowing you to parachute in anywhere; and while it's an exciting innovation most of the time, that ability is also a damaging flaw. If you land on a building and there's no way down, you have to fall and use valuable health in order to complete the mission. Also, this leaves you 100% vulnerable to snipers. The objectives are sometimes hard to find due to the oft-inadequate map system. Also, since your team cannot parachute creatively or go down or up ladders, you sometimes have to face a legion of enemies seemingly alone; and since the enemies sometimes rush you from out of thin air and go on a melee spree, it can get annoying if your allies are messing around at another objective. At least the linearity of most other shooters is broken here.
Nothing special here. There are rudimentary soldier combat noises, the clattering of shells, and the average reports of the constant gunshots. The sound supports itself well, but it won't be winning any awards for outstanding audio.
Again, there is nothing special here. I don't have an HDTV, but I'm sure it would look...adequate. The graphics beat out Call of Duty 3 by quite a bit, but they are nothing like the award-winning beauty of Bioshock or Gears of War. The weapons are the best of this average graphical offering. Details on your weapons as they upgrade are excellent, particularly on the fan-favorite Thompson machine gun. The only other graphical perk are "death animations," which take into account where you shot your foe, what weapon you were using, and how fast they were moving to give the enemies facial and body movements and expressions to make their death more realistic.
While MoHA makes WWII gaming fun again with new abilities, free-form, open-level gameplay, and cool weapon upgrades, the experience is bogged down by frequent difficulty spikes and lack of originality. The bottom line is, World War II is boring, no matter how many extra perks you throw at it. While some imaginative new features give WWII one last hoorah, it looks to be that the greatest generation has officially passed on to make way for something new. While MoHA leaves as the best WWII game of the next gen (Call of Duty 3 being a flop), it is time for something new, which will put big brother CoD on top again, and leave any future MoH WWII games to suffer as CoD3 did.
Special Section: Achievements (not counted towards review score)
Difficulty: 6/10 (10 being the hardest)
Enjoyability: 5/10 (10 being the most enjoyable)
The achievements are relatively easy at first, but, like the story, get harder in the end. Clearing the story will give you a good deal, as will the achievements that you will get as you progress, like Cheat Death, In Yer Face, and the headshot and weapon upgrade points.
In multiplayer, the developers made some achievements worth absolutely nothing, (I assume to resemble actual medals, seeing as how the achievements are named after medals) which makes earning them pointless and boring. Some are similar to the story mode's point-givers, and earning points with your teammates in capture-the-flag will net you about 70 points within your first tow matches, depending on how actively engaged you are in capturing flags and killing foes. Playing as the Allies helps to make the experience all the better.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 09/17/07
Game Release: Medal of Honor: Airborne (US, 09/04/07)
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