2007 Reviews

Medal Of Honor: Airborne

  • Review Date: 2011-09
  • Release Date: 2007-09
  • Developer: Electronic Arts LA
  • Rating: 7.0

Medal of Honor: Airborne is the pefect example of a game that could have been great, but was left stumbling over it's own feet in an unfinished product. I can only assume it's because Activision's Call Of Duty was jumping ahead of them in the WWII shooter market. The last MOH effort in 2004, Pacific Assault, was an average game and since then Activision released a successful Call Of Duty 2 in 2006 and was set to release Call Of Duty 3 in time for the 2007 christmas.

So EA release Airborne; their third PC game in the franchise, a game that really needed another year of development in my opinion. Only then it'd be competing against the likes of Far Cry 2, Mass Effect, Left 4 Dead 2 and another Call Of Duty title. Airborne is what happens when you make something half-assed. In my opinion EA LA shouldn't be given the MOH franchise to develop in future. Pacific Assault was a disappointment and too short. The original MOH was created by 2015 Inc, not EA. And what happened to 2015? Most went on to create a new studio named Infinity Ward, developers of the Call Of Duty franchise. That being said, EA actually started this game in 2004, giving them three years to make it. How on earth they could have spent three years creating six levels is beyond me. Perhaps they only had a single level designer and the rest were there to make coffee? Has building a single level evolved so much that it takes around 10 level designers six months to create a single level?

Enough about the politics and developmento of modern games, because I really don't know, and on to what is bad about Airborne from a gamers perspective. The most prominent problem being that the game is only about five hours long. As I said above, only six levels and while they are large, there should be twice that many for a full priced game. There are some epic moments, this is Unreal Engine 3 afterall. The final level is a great finale on a huge war tower full of AA's and the like to destroy. Walk to the partly destroyed outer-edges of the tower you can look out over a bomb-ravaged city. It's absolutely epic and probably one of the best levels of 2007 for any action game. Although the inside of the tower doesn't look all that good at all.

The other levels look almost as great too, but they are all very similar looking European towns full of debris and destruction. And none of them can catch that imposing feeling you get from the tower; of being just small dot in a huge city. Some of the levels aren't really as big as they really appear when you're parachuting down either.

Overall I'd give the design an 8/10. The job was half-done with UE3, but the levels all look good and are well constructed.

There's no story whatsoever. All I can tell you is the players name is Travis (spelt Travers because that's cooler) and it's WWII. There are cutscenes before each mission explaining the objectives, which are both boring and skippable.

The combat also needed work. The weapons just don't feel right. You can put a few shots into an enemy and he stays there as if he wasn't even hit. Couple more and suddenly he dies. It feels as if my first few shots went right through him. Headshots are difficult to achieve because the movement is jerky and the recoil on guns just throws you upwards and it takes a second to even realise what you're aiming at. What I mean by jerky is if you've got someone down your sights, you move slightly to the left and it jumps a foot. There's not a smooth transition, so there's times where an enemy will be impossible to shoot (unless you physically move the player) because the sights jump from one side of him to the other! It feels like stop-motion animation; not good at all EA.

If I'm firing at close-range at an opponent, it shouldn't take several shots before he suddenly just drops, without any proper death animation or blood. Many times you'll shoot him again because you're not actually sure if he's dead or not.

The guns have a weak fire-rate, they sound weak, and none of them were really enjoyable to use. The shotgun is maybe the exception, but who uses a close range shotgun for long range combat?

The enemies themselves were just standard humans with different guns and average AI. Nothing new here, but even then they could be fun if the weapons had been tweaked properly.

There is one big thumbs up for Airborne that I absolutely loved - jumping from the airplane! Each level I had to demand the girlfriend to watch me jump on the big screen because it's just SO DAMN COOL! She's not interested in the slightest, but I had to show someone! It was brilliant.

However, the checkpoint system was sketchy as hell. Provided you don't die much you'll be fine (and as such I played on easy as I hate checkpoints), or if you die just after a checkpoint. In Airborne you go back to the last checkpoint of objectives, so if you've completed 5 of 10 objectives then you'll still have those completed. You return to the parachuting-in mode (which makes no sense at all from a realistic viewpoint) but you can almost land right where you died. The problem is the map gets partly re-populated and you seem to restart with the weapons you started the level with, or at least you lose all you're ammo. I didn't die enough times to figure it out, but for instance I died in the tower level and parachuted back down with many enemies re-spawned. Only this time I'm given my original two weapons back with barely any ammo in them, instead of having the machine gun I previously had with full ammo in it. Why on earth would you restart a checkpoint but lose your ammo and have the enemies respawn?! Who the hell makes these decisions at EA LA?

Oh well, this game could have been the best MOH yet. It need the checkpoint system fixed (quicksaves anyone?), the weapons properly tweaked, at least some sort of story rather than random missions, and most importantly MORE LEVELS! As it is, it feels like an expansion pack to a bigger game. It feels like a series of objective-based deathmatches with little point.

I still liked it; perhaps I've been a bit harsh on the game because of all the games I've played from 2007 so far, this is one of the few I'd actually play a second time. It just could have been much better with a bit more work.