Review by Mister Sinister
"Even I, who have diligently avoided the entire series of games thus far, really enjoyed this game :)"
I have never, ever been a fan of World War II games, and so I have bypassed the vast majority of the Medal of Honour titles, I will freely admit. This is therefore the first MOH title that I have taken the time to play. What do I, a newbie to the MOH scene, think about this latest offering ? Read on ...
OVERVIEW AND OBJECTIVE OF THE GAME
In Medal of Honour: Airborne, you play Boyd Travers, Private First Class of the All-American 82nd Airborne Division, and must engage in a variety of missions in a variety of locations ranging from Italy to Germany and beyond, alongside your comrades-at-arms and in a bid to bolster the Allied Forces' war efforts during WWII.
Your objectives are communicated to you during your missions, and will invariably be multi-part and on the tough side, so be prepared for a slog !!
GRAPHICS - 9/10
Graphically this game is VERY nicely handled throughout, from the moment you throw yourself out of your aeroplane through to your descent, your landing on the ground, and everything you do thereafter.
The areas are geographically very realistic, and the atmospheric effects (clouds, flames, clumps of earth being jettisoned in all different directions when grenades explode, tiny sparks flying off metal surfaces when rifle rounds hit it and so on) are all incredibly lifelike.
The attentiveness to the weaponry you use, not just in terms of the graphics OF the weapons but also their respective reload routines and the kick you get from each when you fire it, are also very well-researched and lifelike.
Your allies move (generally-speaking) realistically, and will crouch, snipe, lob grenades, run FROM grenades and do all manner of other graphically appropriate moves, depending on their circumstances, all of which are both well-received, and well-attended to.
Explosions are very nicely programmed-in, with some beautiful fire-effects on barrels and fuel tankers thrown in for good measure.
The cut-scenes are nicely handled, and rely heavily on the in-game graphics engine, so there is little difference between the quality of the cut-scenes themselves and the game when it is running, which is a nice change as all too often in games you get STUNNING cut-scenes, intermingled with lesser in-game graphics.
Glitches are rare, but they do happen. The most common graphical issues the game seems to experience are bullet-clipping, where enemy bullets will visually penetrate through even concrete walls (which usually stems from the enemy sprite standing close to the wall on the other side, and the bullets from their gun being fired too close to the wall for the game to recognise what's going on 100%), and sprite flicker on windows depending on the angle you're viewing them at, but these are (as I have just said) RARE graphical issues, and really do very little to detract from the impressiveness of the piece.
All told, the graphical work that has gone into making this title as vivid and life-like as possible is highly professional, and makes the game worth playing just to watch =)
SOUND - 9/10
The sound-effects are STUNNING - every bullet that hits a patch of earth sounds like it's embedding itself deep in there; every bullet that hits a metal surface makes a "ting" noise; every bullet you fire has a sound that is unique to the weapon you are using - all the explosions (when a grenade goes off in your immediate vicinity your ears split with a piercing high-pitched tone that lasts for a few seconds, and really does simulate deafness very well) - EVERYTHING that you hear sound-effects-wise is extremely realistic, and extremely plausible.
The dialogue is all very well-done (although sometimes I do wonder what kind of accent the gentlemen holding the briefings are trying to impersonate, as it sounds like a cross between English and American and that's just a bit confusing really), and the INCIDENTAL speech in the game is quite moving - your comrades-at-arms will scream things like "I'm going in, Travers COVER ME !", to which you are likely to try your best on the spur of the moment to stop what you're doing and do your best for them; or "[Obscenity] - GRENADE !!", which is a sure indicator that you should be moving away from wherever your comrade was standing, pronto.
The only thing that has prevented me giving the sounds 10/10 to be honest with you is the music, which I find rather uninspiring. It's all classically-inspired WWII-style music, and so it fits in well with the game's atmosphere - however sometimes it can be a bit too epic if that makes sense ? It's almost like something out of Star Wars at times, and so whilst it's appropriate, it's also excessive from time to time, but that's just my opinion obviously.
CONTROLS - 8/10
Whilst there are a lot of different things to master in the game, and the vast majority of them are very effective and life-like (such as cooking grenades and focused-aiming), there are a choice of three different button configurations to choose from, and so the option of assigning buttons as you choose is unavailable to you, which is a pity.
Once you have the control system you opt for down pat, you will find that you become quite adept at using it - however up until that point you might find that sometimes you will want your character to do one thing (such as jump over a banister or similar), and in the heat of the moment you will find that you accidentally make him do something completely different, such as crouch or otherwise embarrass himself, which can be rather amusing for your mates, but not so cool for you.
However, in spite of this gripe, the array of commands you have at your disposal are varied and enjoyable - the only other critique I can level against the controls available to you is that there is no option for you to direct the movements and/or actions of your comrades, which would have been very nice (perhaps as you got promoted throughout the game or something ?).
PLOT - 8/10
The game's plot centres around your undertaking and completing several multi-part missions on behalf of the Allied Forces, in an attempt to bolster their war effort during WWII and, consequently, is both involved, engrossing, and realistic.
Each of your missions is given a codename, such as Operation Avalanche, or Operation Market Garden, and ALL of your missions are multi-part, so you will have to complete a number of objectives per operation before you can consider your actions a success.
The plot is therefore not unpredictable - each success you and your Division pull off brings the Allied Forces one step closer to winning the war - however it is reasonably true-to-life (insofar as there were, as you are doubtless aware, a large number of decorated and recognised war heroes did emerge from the atrocious conflicts), and perfectly engrossing, making the game inherently playable.
GAMEPLAY - 9/10
I have to say that, whilst I have been a sceptic when it has come to the MOH series (this is the ELEVENTH title in the series, and they all seem to be centred around WWII in some way, shape, fashion or form), I have really enjoyed playing this game, and I shall tell you why.
First and foremost, the deployment method for your character onto the levels (with rare exceptions) is very innovative and enjoyable. You jump from a plane high above the level, and parachute directly down into the level at a location of your choosing. You have TOTAL CONTROL over where you land (as long as you are able to control your character of course), and so you are able to quickly drop into the heart of enemy territory, or land at the outsides of the game zone and work your way in as you see fit.
This may sound like a novelty, but it actually plays a MASSIVELY functional role in the game. Often the game zones themselves are large and sprawling, so walking from one objective to the next can take a while - if, however, you are slain on the field of battle (and BELIEVE me this is going to happen many, many times), you will ordinarily be able to redeploy yourself from the plane, meaning you can drop down in an area close to your next objective, and so on and so forth.
The game does not save wherever YOU want it to unfortunately - it does, however, save after each objective has been completed, and so once you have completed ONE of your goals, you can rest easier, knowing that WHEN (not if unfortunately) you die, that goal will have already been dealt with.
Then we come to your comrades-at-arms. I have already had a minor whine about not being able to issue them with instructions as to where to go and what to do, as I feel this would have added a great deal more enjoyment to the game - however, their default AI is reasonable, and they will generally back you up and move with you around the game zone. That they are constantly being dropped from planes around you means you have a decent supply of cannon fodder and guidance to assist you throughout the levels, and that is a great boon I must admit.
Conversely, the AI of your enemies is also on the high side, and both friend and foe alike will do their best to retreat whenever they sense a grenade has been dropped in their area, and will fall under as much cover as they can whenever the opportunity to do so presents itself.
If they are cornered, enemies will sometimes resort to charging you and trying to batter you to death with their weapons, which can be very intimidating and realistic as well.
Before you start playing each operation, you are given the opportunity to kit yourself out with a primary weapon (from a list), and a secondary weapon (from a list). You carry a default sidearm which has unlimited rounds for good measure (unrealistic, but hey !!).
During play, you will find that you win awards for meritorious actions, such as demonstrating great levels of proficiency with a given weapon. These awards feature as power-ups for the weapons, giving you increased reload-rates, better zooming, and so on, and make YOU feel like you're being rewarded for clever and fast-responsive play).
The game's difficulty can be picked (which is a good thing - if you think normal is hard you should try hard itself !!), and your enemies have a ranking-scale to determine their combat effectiveness (1-10 - Italian Blackshirts bear the illustrious rank of 1 meaning they are about as much use in combat as a chocolate fireguard).
The biggest regret I have with regard to the game is that when you die (which happens often), it takes such a long time to load up the level again, regardless of whether you are going to be dropping back into the game zone from above, or whether you will be respawned on the ground.
REPLAY VALUE - 8/10
The short- to mid-term replay value of this game is high owing to the satisfaction you get from taking out your enemies once you have mastered the control system, and the feeling you come away with of being part of a larger strike force that has common goals - i.e. to thwart the war efforts of Nazi Germany and its allies during the war.
Longer-term, however, the replay value does take quite a hit on the basis that this is the ELEVENTH title in the series, and whilst the airborne-element of the game is both new and graciously received, the subject matter is very much in keeping with the other Medal of Honour titles, and so much like discerning 11 different 1-on-1 beat-em'up's from one another, the likelihood of your being able to draw MASSIVE distinctions between this and other titles in the series is not that great in my opinion.
VALUE FOR MONEY - 8/10
Whilst you're definitely getting another slice of the same cake in buying this title, you are also securing yourself plenty of hours of good, enjoyable gameplay thanks to a game which seamlessly blends beautiful graphic work with intense sounds and immersive gameplay. It's the stuff of greatness this title :)
OVERALL - 9/10 (This is NOT an average)
I said coming into this review that I have never been a fan of the Medal of Honour series, and I wasn't lying - however, playing this title really does make me think that it might be worthwhile going back and picking up the other titles in the series (on the cheap) just to see what they're all like, and how they square-up alongside this one.
It is a good, solid, enjoyable title that will give those people that get stuck into it plenty of hours of gameplay that you won't regret - it's definitely worth looking at.
MAIN GOOD POINTS
* Air-dropping into the game zone enables you to pick where you want to start
* Good variety of weapons, plus the option of kitting yourself out before you start a mission
* Your desire to complete each objective is amplified by the presence of a multitude of comrades that are all fighting at your side during play
MAIN BAD POINTS
* Loading times are a bit of a drag
* You cannot control (only influence) the actions of your comrades
SO SHOULD YOU GET IT ?
If you're a fan of the series you'll already have it, and yes - if you, like me, have avoided the Medal of Honour series thus far, then this is a really good reason to stop and change your point of view - the game is great fun to play, and offers plenty of hours of gameplay in a variety of real-world locations, with realistic and fully appropriate references to WWII historically-speaking. It's a great, very enjoyable game and will remain in my collection indefinitely :)
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 09/17/07
Game Release: Medal of Honor: Airborne (EU, 09/07/07)
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