|Medal of Honor: Airborne (2007)
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Available for: Xbox 360, PC
Cue intro music: Styx’s “Haven’t We Been Here Before?”
Wow. Didn’t I just finish reviewing a whole slew of MoH games not too long ago, including the last “new” one, “Medal of Honor: Vanguard?” I thought I had. It’s sort of amazing how fast EA cranks out new editions of this war-torn franchise. Seriously, how many shooters can you base around World War II? Apparently it’s an infinite number, and doubly apparent there is an audience willing to snap up these suckers without question. Unfortunately, while “Airborne” has a couple new things going for it, it’s still the same old MoH that we’ve all either come to know and love or got tired of really fast.
This time around, instead of having players start out each part of the game in a locked-in, predetermined location, they are dropped from a plane and must parachute down to a spot of their choosing. You may recall this was implemented in one of the levels of “Vanguard,” so it isn’t necessarily “new;” rather, it is extended over the entire game. Still, where you choose to land can determine the difficulty of the game – at least in terms of where you start. But it seems like any seasoned MoH vet will have no problem landing wherever and making his way toward the objective with little trouble.
It’s a shame how much the series hasn’t changed from game to game overall, because one gets the idea that EA really does try to bring something new to each installment. What they seriously need to work on is the yet again lazy computer AI. Sure, sometimes your enemies will play a little hide and seek with you, but again, they did that in “Vanguard” and just as poorly as they’re doing in “Airborne.” Once you figure out where they’re hiding, it’s the old fish in the barrel routine. And yes, the rest of the time the enemies will often just run around without rhyme or reason or stand there and let you in on the easy kill. Note to developers: gamers like tough AI (see “Gears of War” or “Bioshock”).
Fighting the occasional vehicle is a mediocre experience as well. Anyone who recalls that final campaign in “Vanguard” can attest it was undoubtedly the best part of the game. There was some actual frenzy and tension built in, as tanks wound up surrounding the building the player was holed up in and shelling it to hell while rocket launchers had to be located to take down said tanks. This time around, encountering the tanks is a ho-hum affair. They seem to be stuck on rails, and bringing them down can be either a matter of literally blowing them up or taking out the gunner. Weird. You’d think that one method would work for all, but perhaps this was some feeble attempt at putting some “zing” into the gameplay. It didn’t work too well, if that was indeed the intention.
The single-player campaign is really, really short. We’re talking easily under 10 hours short. There’s something to be said for games that take so long to play through that one can quickly lose interest, but the same is true for a game like this that is too short. Anywhere between 10 to 20 hours is usually satisfying. Under 10 and you can start wondering why you spent your money on the game. Multiplayer is decent, but nothing to write home about, and certainly nothing in comparison to the upcoming “Call of Duty 4,” which at least by the beta alone has featured some of the most exciting multiplayer skirmishes I’ve played in a long time.
Graphically, “Airborne” is good, but not really good enough. You’ll encounter things blowing up and particles flying around, but hey, shouldn’t that building that was just being shelled at least break a part just a little bit? Whoops. Guess they forgot to program in those little details that can make a game like this more immersive. But it is what it is, just like every other MoH game that has preceded it. It feels like it’s more than past the time to call it a day on this series. It isn’t necessarily bad, but it isn’t that exciting, either. As far as FPS games go, you can certainly do a lot better these days. But like the sun that rises every morning, MoH will undoubtedly raise its tired head again in another few months. Count on it.