previews\ Mar 10, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Medal of Honor Preview

After the failures of the last few Medal of Honor games, EA decided to give the series a much needed break, reviving it in 2010 for a series reboot. Relocating to Afghanistan, the developers look to make the game a competitor to Activision’s Call of Duty franchise, for which Modern Warfare 2 alone earned over a billion dollars by 2010. While this might seem like an impossible task to some, the gaming industry should know better than to count out EA when it comes to taking out Activision’s heavy hitters. Skate and Rock Band both proved that even the largest franchises can be dethroned, and they look to do it again with Medal of Honor.

At a recent EA event, I had a chance to sit down with Medal of Honor’s executive producer Greg Goodrich, who ran through a level of the pre-alpha build of the game on the PlayStation 3. During the presentation, he showed off a battle at The Shah-i-Kot Valley, where Tier 1 operatives were tasked with taking down gun emplacements to allow for air strikes on the area. Instead of straying from history, EA is indulging in it, grounding everything in reality instead of making up locations and conflicts. This battle isn’t a fictional one, and the Shah-i-Kot Valley isn’t a made-up set piece. The characters of Mother, Voodoo, Preacher, and Rabbit (the player) might not be real, but this operation actually occurred. Their level is built based on images taken of the region, and the men involved are acting as consultants to the developers to assure that the most authentic, realistic experience is delivered to players. Already, they’ve helped shape the game; giving insight and having EA make both gameplay and cosmetic changes.

Medal of Honor Xbox 360 screenshots

That’s not to say the game is a realistic military simulator, however, it’s not trying to move in on Operation Flashpoint’s territory. The gameplay I saw during the event looked a lot like Modern Warfare’s, even sporting a similar mechanic when it comes to the aiming reticule locking onto an enemy when the player brings up iron sights. Throughout the level, the player took out a number of insurgent forces, all the while placing explosives on large guns, waiting for the payoff of the AC-130. Eventually, it came, when the player destroyed the final gun and a number of vehicles started making their way towards their location.

They never made it. The player painted their location for the gunship, and before long, fire rained down from the sky, demolishing the vehicles in a giant explosion. He continued on, fighting a few groups of enemies before being bashed with the butt of a rifle in a scripted encounter. As he stumbled on the ground, the enemy lowered his weapon as the game’s speed slowed. Suddenly, a shot from an ally took the foe out, and another member of the squad turned to help Rabbit up.

Medal of Honor Xbox 360 screenshots

And that’s only one part of the game. Players will control Army Rangers and other soldiers in the war, and the DICE developed multiplayer is still yet to be explored. As the screen faded to black and the demonstration ended, I was left with feelings of optimism. The build shown at the event was early, lacking finished textures, sounds, and character models, but it was enough to prove that EA isn’t messing around with Medal of Honor. In a few months, we’ll know if lightning strikes three times in a row, as the game heads in a direction to compete with Treyarch’s Call of Duty. Here’s hoping for one hell of a fight.

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