|System: PS3, X360, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Electronic Arts||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Electronic Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 19, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Matt Au
February 15, 2007 - As one of Electronic Arts' flagship franchises, the Medal of Honor series became a staple in the WWII FPS genre. The solid and cinematic gameplay has proven to be successful, spanning across consoles and spawning numerous sequels and spin-offs. However, with the rising success and rivalry of the Call of Duty series as the debut game of the next-generation consoles, Medal of Honor: Airborne comes out with a facelift in presentation, gameplay, and, as you might have guessed from the title, a unique airborne approach to battle.
Despite being titled Medal of Honor: Airborne, fans of the series need not worry on any dramatic changes and can expect much of the same first person Nazi stomping action as in prior games of the franchise. But needless to say, there is a unique addition to the game that lives up to the title. Each of the five European campaigns spanning from Italy, France, and Germany consists of two parts, the first giving the player control of Eddie La Pointe, a "pathfinder" of the Allied Airborne Division. Once discreetly parachuting behind enemy lines as La Pointe, the player's objective is to covertly set up radio beacons to designate future drop zones for the rest of the forces, as well complete other tasks of sabotage. Once completed, the second part of the campaign begins pitting the player as Private Boyd Travers who will drop in along with the rest of the invading troops and proceed to complete a large variety of objectives such as taking over certain points and eliminating Nazi presence. With Private Travers however, don't expect it to be as hush hush as it was with La Pointe, unless you consider blowing up buildings, killing enemies, and leaving destruction in your wake as a covert operation.
While it seems that the majority of the gameplay revolves around ground tactics and fighting much like the rest of the series, the parachute drops are an integral part of the game. One of the prominent features of Medal of Honor: Airborne is the notion that as a parachuter, you have the ability to drop in wherever you please and proceed as such, whether it be a Nazi fortification followed by ensuring carnage, or the rooftops for secretive and meticulous sniping. The implications of this freedom can mean a wholly different scenario for different drop locations. The actual parachuting controls have not yet been revealed, however, it is known it will not be as simple as directing the control pad and does require skill and practice for flawless drop-ins.
The addition of aerial drop-ins are not the only new aspects of the game though, as the on-ground gameplay has been vamped up as well. For starters, players can now upgrade, modify, and customize their guns. Taking note of reality, you no longer simply pick up a new gun from a dead soldier and cast away the one that you've become so fond of. Instead, you can find parts and pieces to upgrade your arsenal of weapons, assuming you have the proficiency in that particular weapon to do so. This entails the fact that you can't gain total proficiency in all weapons per campaign, instead having to focus on a select few, but in turn encouraging replay.
Another major upgrade in Medal of Honor: Airborne is the new and improved artificial intelligence that Electronic Arts has fondly named Affordance. No longer are NPCs bound by an AI that is limited in actions. Now, with Affordance, NPCs will be aware of their surroundings and prioritize realistically, taking cover behind objects, utilizing formations, and in general, behaving more intelligently. While this means players will have a smart team of troops covering their backs, don't expect Nazi soldiers to foolishly charge into open fields or wander aimlessly once their cover is blown away and likewise, when replaying the campaign, don't expect to see the same enemies taking cover around the same corner as you did previously.
As expected for the franchise's debut on the next-generation consoles, Medal of Honor: Airborne graphics have improved accordingly and, although not groundbreaking, everything is smooth and well-rendered, on par with such games as Call of Duty 3. The addition of different faces and expressions do much to improve the realism as past games in the franchise lacked this. And also, keeping the trend of the series, Medal of Honor: Airborne decided to avoid blood content, which may detract from the game as the sense of realism is somewhat offset when you shoot an enemy and they keel over as if shot dead by a bean bag. Excepting this fact, Medal of Honor's presentation has and will play out with a very cinematic feel, with the strong soundtrack and sound effects playing no small part.
The video game industry suffers no shortage of World War II games, especially in the FPS genre. However Medal of Honor: Airborne, the franchise's next-generation debut, goes beyond the normal combat by not only introducing the paratrooper element, but also with the improved and enhanced AI, non-linear gameplay, and RPG-like qualities for weapons. While Call of Duty 3 got the jump for next-generation consoles, Medal of Honor: Airborne's early 2007 release date may yet prove that patience is a virtue.
CCC Freelance Writer