Kevin Costner was a fantastic actor. Any movie touched by the Costner name… Dances with Wolves, Field of Dreams, The Untouchables… any movie he was in was a quality film. But then, the Costner star faded. It didn’t mean anything to have ‘ol Kev in your flick anymore. The Postman? Wyatt Earp? The flops were legendary. And yet, on again he came, riding forth, because you knew that the next Costner film was going to be the one to restore him to his former glory.
And here, we have the last Medal of Honor. The Kevin Costner of the gaming world has seen its formerly glory outshone by other franchises. And yet, EA gave it another blockbuster budget, and attempted to reinvigorate the flagging brand. But instead of JFK, Dangerclose and DICE delivered Waterworld.
The single player campaign is a very mixed bag. There’s no story to speak of, merely a plot frame work for the various scripted sequences. You’ll fight in a variety of Afghani environs, from snowy mountains, to low, rocky hills, to villages. It’s an attractive game in the daylight (though everything tends to dull a bit as soon as night rolls around).Some might even say the vistas and scenery in the daytime are beautiful.
There are some sequences in the single player that were quite entertaining. I found the sniping sequence to be quite compelling, as you changed out your optics to keep fire on the enemy. The on-rails helicopter sequence felt fresh and different from similar sequences in other games. Some of the shootouts are quite intense, and it just feels gritty and realistic. There are definitely some moment to love here, including advancing on a machine gun nest while keeping it pinned with fire, and a last stand in a building as it slowly gets blown to pieces.
But for every moment I loved, the game seemed to find something to spit in my face. The scripting is very poorly written. If you don’t behave exactly as the game expects you to behave, things in the game will break. In the sequence I mentioned before, when you pin down the machine gun nest, the “pinning” only works if you’re standing in the correct spots. The game does try to have your squadmates yell at you to get into position, but it shouldn’t matter which piece of cover I’m standing behind. As the building crumbles around you in a last stand, and your allies run out of ammo, you continue to fire and fire and fire. That is because you can ask for ammo at any time, and even though your fellow soldiers areshouting “Down to my last mag” they also freely give you 10 or 12 clips at the same time. It kills the immersion. And the enemy exist only to be killed. The AI is utterly brain dead, running to pre-designated points and defending in place.
The game reclaims some of its goodwill in the multiplayer. DICE has done fine work creating a sort of Modern Warare/Battlefield hybrid. The maps tend to be small, and the action fierce. You’ll end up in a lot of really tense firefight situations. However, there was also a lot of bottlenecking, and spawn camping seemed really widespread. Still, the controls are tight and the action is fun. There’s your classic team deathmatch, and a couple of objective based modes, but that’s it. There are only three classes, and only ten level in those classes. And DICE’s classic destructible terrain? Not here. Really, there’s some entertaining action. It’s just not very robust. Perhaps they’re looking to add some additional modes and maps later on, but to me, it just seems as though DICE wasn’t given enough time to do everything with it that they were capable of.
Given the recent success of Modern Warfare, I think a modern reboot of Medal of Honor was inevitable. I was surprised, though, that the level of quality here was so low. If you build it, they will come, sure, and the game has sold well. But this was not an effort to redeem a franchise, much as another disappointing footnote to a series whose better days are long gone by. There is value here, in some moment of the short (sub 5 hours) campaign and the multiplayer, but you have other, higher quality options. DICE has released an infinitely better game earlier this very year. And then there’s that other franchise. You may find a few hours of play here, but you’re better off looking to something else.
3 out of 5