Medal of Honor: Airborne Review (PC)

The Medal of Honor series has had its ups and downs; unfortunately there have been more downs recently. Vanguard seemed to help the series a step nearer its once towering height, but with this most recent edition has all that hard work been undone or will this round prove to be something much more impressive?

Graphics look great up close, shame if your far from your men
There are a few different ways in which to approach a mission, sniping you foe is an effective one

What there is, story wise follows Boyd Travers, a Private First Class in the “All American” 82nd Airborne Division. There is no real story to be told except the events of each operation. You follow through different operations that were paramount to the war effort, heading from Husky to Market Garden to the final assault on Der Flaktürm. The game flows from mid-way through until the dying months of the war.

There are six levels covered in the game, this may seem short but as each mission takes over an hour to complete, most will find this game long enough. Playtime averages out at about 7 to 8 hours, plus if you repeat the game on different difficulty there are medal to be collected, which does add to the length. Mind this is solely for completist as each medal does not give you anything new for use in the game.

Each level is really an island unto itself. When parachuting into a level, in which you can glide to choose your landing zone. This problem becomes apparent when a couple of times when I managed to land away from the green smoke lit safety zones and hit an invisible wall for which I promptly dropped off the map.

There is a clever free-roaming system implemented for para jumping. This system works in a way that seems to give you a large amount of freedom, but really is completely linear. You may land anywhere in the level, whether it be in one of the safety zones or in an enemy controlled area. Landing in areas controlled by Nazis does mean that you have mere moments to live, though. Another clever addition to the parachuting feature is a skill drop. These are places in the level that take a degree of skill to achieve, but a lot of the time you will not find these drops until you have landed making them some what hollow.

Unfortunately the first three missions suffer terribly from a linear design that is shallowly hidden under the Para jump freedom. Each level has its own objectives, which you can tackle in any order you wish, but most of the time you end up following a preset path to save yourself marching back across half a level. This small problem makes the first three levels amazingly boring. This is because your objectives come in a steady stream meaning that you have no choice but to follow the objectives to the letter. Starting at the fourth level there is a larger amount of freedom given to you though.

Peeking round corners is the best way in which to not be shot in the face
Depending on when you get them your buddies can be a help or a hindrance

Although the objectives are still a linear form, the last three missions allow you to choose your first objective, from a choice of three or four. But each of the six levels has an approach that makes how an objective is completed entirely up to you. Of course, the end result is the same but how that end result comes about is more important, whether you attack head-on and take the casualties, or take to the many roofs and snipe at your foe.

Gameplay turns misty here as there are more than a few little problems that seem to mould together into one big one. The first is the AI of your comrades and to some extent the enemy too. Your comrades, at times, are a blessing running in and helping you out if under fire, but a lot of the time they run into you sights just as your about to fire meaning that you hit them instead. The enemy are just as stupid, they will run into you fire, group in massive clumps that make it easy for a single grenade to take them all out. But worst of all is the plain suicidal charging attack they do, this seems to come when you have full ammo or just finished reloading making it even easier to pick them off. The second problem is the horrendous hit detection, this can mean that you will hit three or four times and yet each bullet will not register. This isn’t helped by the recoil on some of the automatic weapons being so over sensitive you end up hitting the ceiling more than your target.

These problems make one giant problem that can make the game unplayable. Nazis’ have magic guns that no matter how quickly you move back into cover at least one bullet will hit you, also your life once you are hit or out in the open depletes mind-bogglingly quickly.

The weapons are the best point about the game; there are three different types to choose from in each weapon category. Also with each weapon the more you use it the more experience you gain with it, this is translated into upgrades, which kit you out with grenade launchers for your rifles and scopes for your machineguns. An added bonus to this is the guns look great, with some wonderful detail on them, but the big plus is the sound. Weapons sound marvellous and very true to what you hear in films.

The rest of the graphics have some nice looks to them. This is especially true with the characters; Travers looks great from what you see of him. His uniform looks detailed and it even looks like wool in some sections, but by far the most impressive thing is the detail to the hands. They have some very nice particulars like veins and scabs from cuts. But things aren’t so rosy for the Nazis’; these guys each only seem to have two character models for each of the different classes of soldier.

The multiplayer has probably the best time of it, with all the mechanics that are present in the main game coming together and make a much more fluid experience. The Para-drop in the main game it feels very gimmicky and really serves no propose, except to deliver you into the level, but online you can watch out for your enemy below and drop right behind him or give him a swift kick as you drop. The online play is generally the same as most FPS’; with ranked and unranked matches and the normal game modes of Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch, along with an objective mode of Capture The Flag. But it is almost lag-less, which is a nice feeling with a PC game.

You need to aim for the Green smoke; if you land anywhere else it means death in a few minutes
Going anywhere is not quite a concept that Airborne had in mind

Medal of Honor: Airborne is a game that needs time ploughed into it to reap the fill awards. If you’re looking for something that will reinvigorate your experience of WWII FPS’ then look elsewhere. But if you are looking for an excuse to take the same old fight back to the Nazis’ then here is your answer.

Top Game Moment:
Taking down one of the Nazis Storm Elite with a well-thrown grenade.

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