Although the Beta period for Medal of Honor opened up on June 21st, I just finally got around to entering my code and downloading the Beta last night. I thought I would throw together some quick impressions of the game so far.
Here is an “official” description of the game for those not aware…
Operating directly under the National Command Authority, a relatively unknown entity of handpicked warriors are called on when the mission must not fail. They are the Tier 1 Operators.
Over 2 million Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines wear the uniform. Of those, approximately 50 thousand fall under the direct control of the Special Operations Command. The Tier 1 Operator functions on a plane of existence above and beyond even the most highly trained Special Operations Forces. Their exact numbers, while classified, hover in the low hundreds. They are living, breathing, precision instruments of war. They are experts in the application of violence. The new Medal of Honor is inspired by and has been developed with Tier 1 Operators from this elite community. Players will step into the boots of these warriors and apply their unique skill sets to a new enemy in the most unforgiving and hostile battlefield conditions of present day Afghanistan.
There is a new enemy. There is a new war. There is a new warrior. He is Tier 1.
The game is set to release on October 12th of this year and at first glance looks like it could be very similar to the Battlefield series. I applied for a Beta key for the PS3 through File Planet (and obviously, got in) as I was pretty curious to see how the game played. The Xbox 360 demo is not live yet, but the PC one is. I think you also received a Beta key if you pre-ordered Bad Company 2…so you may want to check that out. I am an FPS kinda’ guy, so I am always willing to give a new variation its day in court.
The first thing that I noticed was, there was really no tutorial or even basic control scheme familiarity “lesson” which was semi irritating. Yes, I know…the controls are available in the options but having to hunt them down is annoying. To be honest I just jumped in the game and figured it out on the fly, then looked later. The game has the standard controls which felt familiar although I really hate on the PS3 how shooters tend to use the R1 and R2 for shooting, it just feels unnatural at first. Not to mention I have the handy trigger add-on for my controller which does me no good with this layout. That’s not a dig on this game really, just thought it was worth mentioning…it annoys me about many shooters on the PS3.
The game starts out with the garden variety choices for playing and classes. You can choose either “Combat Mission” mode or “Team Assault” mode. Combat Mission is basically objective-based with 5 different points to either attack or defend, much like Rush mode in Battlefield Bad Company 2. Team Assault mode is your run of the mill team deathmatch. All of my experiences are based off of Combat Mission mode so far, I just prefer objectives and to be honest…I suck at any meaningful K/D ratio and only end up as a liability.
As far as classes go, you can choose between 3 to begin with. Rifleman, Special Ops and Sniper. Depending on whether you are defending or attacking you are either the Insurgents or the Coalition (United States). You start off with pretty basic weapons, for the Coalition you get to choose from the M16 (Rifleman), M21 (Sniper) or M4 (Spec Ops). With the Insurgents you get either the AK-47 (Rifleman), SVD (Sniper) or AKS74U (Spec Ops). One thing I found interesting was the secondary weapons. The Spec Ops soldier has a rocket launcher for both sides which seemed a little off, but I guess it had to fit in somewhere. Snipers can make use of C4 which is pretty standard and the Rifleman class gets an attached grenade launcher. There are also 2 maps available, Kabul City Ruins and Helmand Valley. I seemed to hit the latter almost every game I played.
I played for probably an hour and a half, and really would have played more but I forgot to charge my controller before hand. That’s what I get for using the PS3 as a Blu Ray player mainly, eh? The graphics are always one of the first things I look for, and it was fairly hard to judge the game based solely on the beta since it is multiplayer only. Usually MP graphics aren’t as solid as the single player campaign. The visuals were adequate to average I would say. Just as a comparison, I played Bad Company 2 after and the difference is night and day…it just didn’t seem totally polished but it’s a beta I realize. The other thing I always look for is gameplay/flow. Lag is an obvious thing but also I like games to run smoothly, especially shooters. The game ran pretty well and I didn’t notice any lag whatsoever in the time I played.
The first real major annoyance and complaint about the beta came pretty quickly. I say that because as I mentioned earlier, I die…a lot. The first time I was killed I almost thought the game was about to freeze, or that I had hit some lag. It is way too drastic of a stoppage when you die in the game…it really doesn’t flow well. I know that sounds really stupid since in real life if you punch out, obviously it will be abrupt but this isn’t real life…and I hate the way it plays when you are killed. I don’t even know how to accurately describe it other than to say it feels like it’s about to lag then you realize you are dead. I don’t mind the lack of a “kill cam” either, I actually think it’s more challenging to not know where your killer was.
The second thing I noticed, and learned to hate, was the “friendly” indicators. You know, the little marks that help you discern a bad guy from a good guy? I like games that don’t have the “I’m thinkin’ Arbys” symbol above the bad guys’ head. I think it makes it more challenging and fun. What I don’t like is a symbol on your team’s head that is SO faint, you have to take a second to figure out what side they are on if you are far enough away. Those seconds in a shooter, mean you are dead normally. At least a few times I tried sniping my own guy only to realize I wasn’t a bad shot but he was on my team. Again, it could be the “Mike sucks” factor, but I hated this.
The game needs random spawn points as well. You are basically given a couple choices for spawning, to the front of the battle or behind the lines which means at the back of the map at your “base” depending on the current objective. I say it needs more spawn points because, spawn camping was way too easy. And I am stating this as a victim also by the way, not a douchebag doing it. It was really frustrating to spawn, get sniped, rinse/repeat. I think that is something that Bad Company 2 nailed with the squad spawning honestly, it opens up the maps and adds a lot of strategy.
Speaking of sniping, it’s really hard to “feel” like you are sniping. You get a red dot sight on the sniper rifles which is nice but it doesn’t feel like you are sniping…it feels more like a normal red dot sight on an assault rifle. This may have been by design, but you don’t get the “zoomed in” feel that is typical. Another thing about the weapons while I am on the subject, they seem pretty overpowered at this point which I am sure can be fixed. I was shot across the map by the Spec Ops weapon more times than I care to remember…the range was ridiculous. After being a victim, I started using the same tactic and sure enough, it’s way too easy to basically snipe without a scope from afar.
My only other real complaint, which is most certainly explained in more detail when the retail version hits, is the ranking system. It’s actually pretty cool how they do it, you get a different rank per class, meaning you could be a level 3 in the Spec Ops class but a 7 in the Sniping class, earning you upgrades in each one and I assume adding up to a total rank. It’s a little similar to Halo in that way, although you don’t rank by game type. I like that. What I don’t like is, I really had no idea what rank I was (I didn’t advance at all…but I had no idea) or my progress. I eventually found the stats after exiting the game, but I personally like knowing how far I have to go in order to rank up. Modern Warfare probably does this better than anyone else with the progress meter at the bottom of the screen. The post-game stats screen literally flies by as well. You have the option to go back and look before the next game starts but it disappears far too quickly. For people that like to see how good (or in my case, horribly) they did…that needs work.
Some other things I noticed were that you cannot go prone which seems pretty standard now, there isn’t a real health meter and instead it uses the “blood screen” similar to Modern Warfare and you can earn Medals in the game which is cool. After you exit the game, you can go see your Medals and it has an explanation of what they represent. I love having in-game medals, it almost feels like a game within a game and adds some replay value…to me at least. It did show that I had a medal for hitting 100 kills which I most certainly did not earn. Unless it meant I was an easy target 100 times, that is probably accurate. Probably a minor Beta bug that will be sorted out.
You also get the option to change your gear around, which I assume is tied to your ranking. I was able to eventually switch to a camo sniper rifle for example and I noticed that the people killing me had pretty sweet weapons. You also seem to have some “perks” of sorts, as I noticed I was being bombed by jets, etc. I will have to read up on that to learn about it…not that I will earn anything like that, but you know…I want to know how I will die. In the main menu there is also an “Unlock Tree” that I will admit I didn’t look at and probably answers my previous question about how to get the bad ass bombing runs and other upgrades.
Overall, I dig the Beta and will keep playing to let it grow on me a bit more. This is a game I have been on the fence with, but I am a sucker for shooters and if the MP aspect improves it’s enough to potentially hook me. All I know is so far, it has a long way to go in order to seduce me from Bad Company 2.
More to come…