Preview: Medal of Honor (single player)

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Preview: Medal of Honor (single player)
You won't always play as a Tier-1 operative, a.k.a. "the scalpel," in EA's upcoming Medal of Honor reboot. I got to see a portion of "the sledgehammer" side of the single-player campaign at an EA event last week. While this segment stayed true to the core values that definine EA's vision for the game, one thing was clear: you can't always be the hero.

With the player and his squad pinned down by a Gatling gun atop a hill, the situation called for a support effort, not heroics. While most games would have you storming the hill against all odds, or finding a convenient way around, Medal of Honor approaches this situation quite differently. You have to accept that you're rather powerless.

You're told that your best option is to simply lay down some suppressive fire. I watched as the demonstrator stayed behind cover, peeking out just enough to roughly spot the target. Then he fired away. While you may not be scoring any kills doing this, you are providing a sufficient enough distraction for your squadmates to plant charges underneath the gunners and blow them to pieces.

Seeing as how "modern warfare" was recently interpreted as "riding snowmobiles while dual-wielding Uzis," it's refreshing to see that EA's approach isn't obnoxiously bombastic.

EA's approach isn't obnoxiously bombastic.

Medal of Honor's visuals haven't improved significantly since I last saw the game several months ago. Once again, the PS3 build was demoed and continues to be plagued with texture "jaggies" common of Unreal Engine games on the platform. Still, there were a few nice touches that I noticed, including some slick yet subtle environmental damage. As the player focused his suppressive fire on the Gatling gun, a cloth tent behind the weapon placement was shredded. By the end of the fight, it was nothing more than a few loose strands fluttering in the wind.

One thing the game engine does particularly well is its rendering of sand -- and there's lots of sand in Medal of Honor. Explosions spray sand into the air and roaming dust clouds definitely affect your vision. According to an EA producer, bringing the elements into play is a major focus of the game design. At one point, as the player attempted to traverse an alleyway that cut through the desert, the reflection of the sun off of the sand was so blinding that it hampered his ability to spot enemies in the distance (are those even enemies?).

I continue to be impressed by the gameplay design and overarching ideas that are shaping the new Medal of Honor. We'll see if EA can execute its vision, and give Call of Duty some much-needed competition, when Medal of Honor is released this October.
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