Review by dwashbur
Tough But Fair, One of the Best WWII Games yet
Wow, this game is HARD!!!!! Even on the easiest setting, it often took me half a dozen tries to get past certain points, and it took more than 20 tries to get past the final group of Nazis and finish the game. It's easily one of the hardest WWII games I've played, and it was fantastic!
Each mission begins with a briefing about the objectives, and a map showing where "safe" landing zones are. From there you find yourself on the plane, usually under fire, and as quickly as you can, out you go. The chute is a little strange to control, but it doesn't take long to get used to it. It's usually difficult to make a "greased" landing, but a "botched" landing doesn't cause that many problems. Later on you can get an achievement by doing a "flared" landing which is a lot of fun to do. The odd thing about the game is, as long as you're in a part of the mission that's above ground, if you are killed and restart from the last checkpoint, you do the jump again. So depending on how bad you are at staying alive, you might jump anywhere from 3 to 10 times in the course of a mission. One good thing: there are multiple landing zones to choose from, and it doesn't matter which one you choose on any jump within a mission, there are objectives to be done from all of them. There are always multiple objectives, and they don't need to be done in any particular order. So if you find yourself getting killed multiple times on your way to a particular objective, land somewhere else and try a different objective for a while. It keeps the game from becoming repetitive and gives the player lots of options. Very well done.
The weapons are pretty authentic. As with every other WWII game out there, avoid the Thompson machine gun. It has the accuracy of throwing a handful of rocks blindfolded. The best all-around weapon throughout the game is the Germans' own MP40, a nice light machine gun with a good size magazine and good accuracy, especially through the iron sight. The sniper rifle, a Springfield, is good and accurate, though it took me a while to figure out how to steady it. For those who haven't played yet or haven't figured it out yet, you need to hold the trigger halfway until the half-circles to the left of your field of view come together to form a full circle. When that happens, you're holding your breath and you can keep the rifle steady. This is especially handy for head-shooting enemies that are crouched behind something with only the top of a helmet visible. As you perform with a particular weapon, you can gain achievements with it that will unlock upgrades such as a larger magazine or reduced recoil. For the sniper rifle, you can get a quick-load thing that cuts reload time by orders of magnitude. With the German STg-44, you can also unlock a nifty little scope that boosts your accuracy. This comes in very handy later on. The weapons and sounds are as authentic as any I've seen to date. There aren't any vehicles to drive in this game, but given the nature of the Airborne experience, that makes sense.
The enemy AI's are smart and fierce. They rarely hold still, and they tend to play dirty a lot of the time. Still, the game plays fair, and there's always a way to defeat them that's believable. As levels are loading, the screen gives you information about various types and classes of German soldiers, which also comes in handy as the game progresses. Near the end, you run into a kind of super-soldier that will blow your socks off. Have fun figuring out how to defeat them, especially toward the very end of the game.
The friendly AI's, on the other hand, are worse than useless. You have your sniper rifle lined up, the scope is drawn down on the enemy's head, you're holding your breath, you go to squeeze the trigger, and three of these morons step into your line of sight. These guys are best at standing out in the open, trading shots with hidden Germans, and getting themselves killed. Virtually all the time, you'll find yourself doing the mission alone. Either that or some clown will wander along just as you've destroyed and enemy AA gun or something and say "Okay, on to the next one!" Gee, thanks, fella. I never could have figured that out on my own. These other Airborne guys are the one black mark on this game, and the only reason I give it a 9 instead of a 10. If the designers want to fix these guys to where they actually do something useful, the game will be just about perfect.
This is a definite buy for any fan of WWII games. You can play it again and again, at different levels of difficulty, and it won't get old. Pick it up and enjoy it!
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Medal of Honor: Airborne (US, 09/04/07)
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