My column today was meant to be something completely different but last night an incident occurred which left me sitting with a mixture of emotions. Emotions which weren’t good and rather negative to the game I was playing and to the developers for making it. And to DICE for collaborating on it… and to EA for publishing it. Mostly to me, for being enough of an idiot to buy it. I’m talking, of course, about Medal of Honor.
Medal of Honor sought to redefine the series with which it shares its name in the form of a gritty reboot (everything’s getting a gritty reboot these days). In the sea of Battlefield, Call of Duty, Far Cry, ARMA and other well-defined shooters, it was a bit off-kilter, the black sheep in EA’s stable that didn’t live up to the same expectations as everything else.
Having previously played one game in the series before (Allied Assault, a cracked copy) I was expecting the reboot to be quite different and in this regard I wasn’t disappointed. I need to add that I actually bought Medal of Honor last year but only remembered to pick it up and play the game this past week.
I don’t normally like on-the-rails shooters. I typically find them boring as hell and leave little to the imagination or freedom for the player to complete missions in several ways. I liked Crysis 2 and 3 for this reason because even though everything is scripted, at least I have several ways to spice things up.
Medal of Honor annoyed me with its basic port quality (I hate console ports), low resolution textures (did I mention I hate console ports?) and completely unrealistic motion capture but I was willing to overlook a game that wouldn’t allow you to reload while running, or have useful teammates, or have very obvious markers and directions telling you where to go. I can admire it for its soundtrack and voice acting and shameless ripoffs of scenes from Call of Duty and Battlefield (and the fact that it only cost me fifty bucks), but I cannot tolerate a game that has no good checkpoint system. This game lacked such a thing in spades.
I was playing a mission where you and your team has been led into an ambush where at least fifty or more angry Afganis are racing down a mountainside trying to kill you and stomp on your character’s testicles. During the course of the mission your team takes cover in a hut – fair enough, it’s a mud hut, but it’ll hold against the AK47’s, 7.62mm rifles and the RPGs firing on you. Nearer to the end where you team’s been told that air support isn’t an option and they’re all very likely to die, some of the bad guys jump into a truck and drive into the mud hut.
So I was right in front of the truck.
Naturally I’m like, “Oh crap” and then my character falls over and reveals horribly textured wrists that look like they belong to a ninety year-old man. My character proceeds to die, much to the chagrin of my team leader and the screen fades to black.
And then I get hit by the truck, again. Then I die, again. The cycle repeated.
The game had frozen itself into an endless loop of me getting squished by a truck and then replaying the whole thing over and over again. I imagine this must be what GLaDOS felt like when you [spoiler] and she’s forced to [spoiler] the [spoiler] in which Chell [spoiler]. Ironically enough, for a game without a good checkpoint scheme, this was the only checkpoint that was working and completely useless at the same time.
After a minute of this nonsense I decided to restart the mission. I mean, how far back can it go, right? It turns out that Danger Close and DICE and EA never had the foresight to include a quick-save system or proper checkpoints within a mission that you could roll back on.
Restarting the mission took me back an entire hour. I ragequitted the game and uninstalled it.
I’m a happier person now that I don’t have to deal with this game. Although the Medal of Honor series has a long and prestigious history and once held its own, it’s a shadow of its former self. I will advise no-one to pick up the most recent titles because they’re not worth the hard drive space they take up. If EA wants a second option to Battlefield and a third to Call of Duty, they need to pay more attention to what they’re doing in the future with this IP.
Or maybe I just don’t need to buy any sequels that have the words “Medal of Honor” in the title. Just like I no longer buy Need for Speed games.