Continuing my exploration of WWII video games, I really wanted to talk about Medal of Honor: Airborne. It’s been a long time since I played this. I only rented it, never owned it. But from what I remember, it had one of the most interesting premises I’ve ever experienced in a first-person shooter.
Unlike most games that start you out in a set location, send you to a specific point, and linearly throw enemy obstacles at you, MoH:A is different. Each mission has one grand objective to go along with an expansive map and several small objectives within that map. At each beginning, you start out in a plane and jump out to attack your objective. Where you land is completely up to you; it’s in your power to control where your parachute takes you into the map. You can go into a safe zone or straight into enemy territory, you can drop into a street or onto a roof (if you want a good vantage point), you can drop near or far from enemy fire, you can drop near or far from friendly soldiers… you can drop wherever you want! I think that’s pretty cool. More importantly it’s an attempt at translating the feeling of being a paratrooper. It definitely gave me some of the excitement of dropping straight into a war zone…
Visually and graphically, the game is pretty indistinguishable from Call of Duty 2 or 3. It’s got the same lighting effects, similar looking textures, very similar looking npc designs. Overall, the graphic quality of the game is very good, yet there’s something about it that isn’t quite up to the same level as Call of Duty when it comes to the action. I can’t quite explain it. Maybe it’s because MoH’s combat is so unscripted, which should be a good thing, but it ends up feeling pretty lack luster; like when there is something happening, it’s not all that much. It just seems like it’s lacking something… The game seems quiet often, and not in a good way. Oftentimes, I would see nobody else around, and I didn’t understand why. There’s something about the experience that doesn’t quite feel authentic. I don’t know what it is, I just know that Call of Duty has it, and MoH doesn’t. And it would pretty much always be up to the player to get things done – like enter buildings and secure objectives – without much help from the comrades, which I felt was a little silly. But Call of Duty had that same quality.
That being said, I just love the idea. Thinking back on it makes me really want to experience it again. Sometimes missions can take hours to complete, but that just makes it feel more accurate to a real war experience. And dropping into the map – aiming for a good spot to land – is always an exciting moment, and an interesting experiment by the makers of the game.
My rating for 2007’s Medal of Honor: Airborne for PS3 is…
Though I really wish I could give this a 3.5, there is something seriously up with the combat in this game. I still can’t explain it perfectly, but in my experience, the actual fighting just didn’t hold up to the excitement of the premise.