Sometimes, I play games. Mostly when I’m supposed to be doing something else, but I play games. For the past few years I’ve somehow managed to complete a single player game during the school/Uni study break period (swotvac). I think the first time this happened I was playing Fallout 3 GotY, but that’s for another time. What follows is my review of Medal of Honor (2010), which unfortunately didn’t get completed in the study period just gone by, but only just recently. There are a few spoilers, but I figure that if you haven’t played it by now you don’t likely care that much anyway. Enjoy!
When I first started playing Medal of Honor, it wasn’t very compelling. The main appeal of this particular triple-A shooter for me wasn’t that it was an alternative to the Call of Duty juggernaut, but that it featured guns. Like a druggie looking for his next hit, I was chasing the feeling of looking down the sights (preferably ACOG, but I’ll take whatever the developers choose to throw at me) and taking down some enemy combatant at range with a well-timed headshot. As cliche as that may sound, I was in it for the gunplay — how the guns “felt” within the context of the game, in different situations, and so on — and Medal of Honour (MoH) has that in spades.
In the beginning, it feels a little like you’re a nameless, faceless grunt fighting someone else’s war — because you are. It’s a little “go here, shoot those guys, rescue this dude”, and it feels like we’ve already been here before in every other big name, A-grade FPS — because we have. The enemies pop up at predictable locations, you advance through different scenarios with your squad in a predictable manner, and it’s all very predictable, even nice, but doesn’t make for very compelling gameplay (even the gunplay is average and just doesn’t feel good).
I don’t know whether it was because I had taken some mind-alterating substances that day or whether I was just in a different state of mind, but I recently re-visited the single player campaign, and, well, everything was different. The good different, not the bad kind. Somewhere between taking out snipers in a tower and lasing targets for laser-guided missile strikes or strafing runs I started to enjoy the game. I was no longer a nameless faceless soldier fighting someone else’s war, I was Rabbit, a Tier 1 Operator part of AFO Neptune, lasing targets with SOFLAM for Predator air strikes under the cover of darkness, or taking out the bad guys at 1000 meters with the Barrett. All I know is, at some point Medal of Honor started being compelling and sucked me right in.
The pacing of the game is fantastic. The action scenes are truly hectic at times, and yet there’s always parts where you never feel overwhelmed by enemies — unless that’s exactly what the developers intended, as they do in one particular scene. Like I said, the story starts out pretty slowly with you saving some guy and then just clearing out the same old enemies in the same old locations, but soon you’re on ATVs assaulting enemy compounds at night, or planting locator beacons on enemy transports, or blasting away at enemy RPG positions from the safety of the skies in an Apache. Some sections leave you truly exhausted, but you’re a SEAL; you just get back up and ask for more.
All that stuff is truly enjoyable, don’t get me wrong. It’s exciting, the gunplay at that point is incredible (oh selective fire, how I’ve missed you), and everything is as you would expect for a shooter of this calibre (pun not intended). It isn’t until about the last third or last quarter of the game that the whole story element comes into play and you start to feel that all this might actually be real. I won’t lie; I felt real relief after playing through one particular section where the position you’re holding for extraction is quickly becoming overrun by enemies who are almost constantly firing RPGs and all manner of rounds are whizzing past you, and just when you’re about to throw in the towel (your companion tech specialist even tells the brass to hold off the support troops he called in earlier), the calvary comes and saves the day. From the desperate calls over comms to having to put down guys left right and centre while running pretty low on ammo, that feels real.
And it only gets more real from that point on.
As a game, the model animations are as good as any. When you’re huddling with three other soldiers behind a wall talking about how you’re going to smoke the enemy position for an air strike, things seem real.
When you’re falling out of a friendly chopper, things seem real.
When you have to choose between bullets and broken bones, things seem real.
When you’re falling off a cliff (broken bones heal), things seem real.
While I have huge respect for people that serve I’ve never gotten into the whole military aspect of life that Americans seem to have. All that cliche gung-ho, trigger-happy, shoot now attitude just seemed too far fetched, a little too removed from reality to actually be. After playing Medal of Honor, I’m convinced that is only the tip of the iceberg. It’s games like this that demonstrate what war is like, how people like Rabbit live, and how they die.
Medal of Honor is easily the best military FPS I have played in a while. While I do enjoy the sheer excitement and pure action of the Call of Duty series, there’s nothing quite like a good plot to keep the story going, and Medal of Honor delivers on all fronts. The multiplayer uses a different engine to the single player, but is still quite enjoyable (although perhaps not as much as Bad Company 2). Medal of Honor keeps it real while delivering everything a military shooter enthusaist would want, which means it’s a pretty damn good game indeed.
As part of the application process for Rock Paper Shotgun (which I didn’t end up applying for), you had to write a 500-word piece on a gaming topic. What follows is what I wrote, sort of a follow-up to The On-Again, Off-Again Gamer post I wrote about two weeks ago. Enjoy!
Enthusiast gamers are a peculiar bunch. Shunned from society for owning and regularly using all the major game platforms, enthusiast gamers possess every console platform if only to play the largest variety of games possible. Enthusiast gamers prefer PC; some say the keyboard and mouse combo feels more natural, others still channel Steve Jobs and say “it just works”.
Enthusiast gamers — not to be confused with euthanasiast gamers — are currently an endangered species. Their highly coveted skills in all forms of video games are desired by many a casual gamer, but what separates an enthusiast gamer from the rest of their gaming brethren is the fact that they innately understand games. They understand how the graphics of any game are supposed to complement and add to the overall gameplay, and they understand how the game mechanics in good games make the game balanced for all players. Above all, enthusiast gamers enjoy games in a way that sets them apart from others who also game.
Enthusiast gamers can usually be found holed up in the corner of your nearest LAN gathering, or doing the odd job here and there; most enthusiast gamers are familiar with many technical aspects of computers, and that comes in handy when new games have to be purchased. New games don’t grow on trees, you know. Enthusiast gamers are usually aged between 17 an 28; old enough to play and really enjoy games, mature enough not to care about real world things like full time jobs or other meagre things. Indeed, the amount of time spent refining twitch reflexes in a first-person shooter or levelling their chaos blood mage in the latest massively multiplayer online role playing game means that enthusiast gamers really don’t have time for such things.
Enthusiast gamers are strongly opinionated. If prompted, they won’t hesitate to speak about games they’re currently playing, but be warned — some enthusiast gamers take such opportunities too far and launch into epic tirades on the state of the gaming industry today, occasionally slipping into “bitter old man” mode and lamenting how game development studios don’t cater to their niche; indeed, it is for this very reason that game developers see enthusiast gamers as the loyal manservant — they’ll happily buy whatever the game development studios are selling, but might post a ranty blog post about it later. However, most enthusiast gamers are kind, gentle folk, provided you don’t knife them in the back in Bad Company 2.
Enthusiast gamers don’t necessarily live and breathe games, but when they’re not playing games, they’re reading about games, and when they’re not reading about games, they’re thinking about how they would improve existing games, or even dreaming up new and exciting games. Enthusiast gamers read gaming literature from a variety of sources, and aren’t particularly swayed by any opinion — if a game receives bad reviews, enthusiast gamers usually play the game and decide for themselves rather than letting someone else tell them what any given game is like.
Gamerscore: somewhere in the vicinity of 55,000
The on-again, off-again gamer is a common breed. Also known as the casual gamer, or casualatis gammarati, many on-again, off again gamers exist today.
As a general rule, on-again, off-again gamers can be found in their natural habitat, whatever that may be. You see, on-again, off-again gamers come in all shapes and sizes. Some are teenagers, lured into an occasional Team Fortress game by friends, or even the small round of Left For Dead versus here and there. Others still play exclusively on consoles, shunning the cumbersome keyboard and mouse for the humble joystick and trigger combo preferred by on-again, off-again gamers everywhere. Many on-again, off-again gamers have normal jobs and lead normal lives, even with spouses, and in some cases, children.
The thing that characterises on-again off-again gamers in the wild is that generally, they will have heard of most mainstream titles, that is, anything that has been picked up by the mass media or heavily marketed. The on-again, off-again gamer is easily persuaded by whatever the media says is good (or bad), and will usually stick to one or two sources for gaming-related information.
The on-again, off-again gamer has a modest library of games. Perhaps nothing that stands out, but definitely all the popular ones. If questioned about his gaming library, the on-again, off-again gamer will respond with an all-encompassing statement about how he doesn’t have time to play a lot of games, or what precious time he does have for games that are, you know, actually worth his time.
On-again, off-again gamers are almost exclusively male, although some have been known to be androgenous.
The one thing that sets on-again, off-again gamers from the rest of the gaming community is simple: they very rarely finish a game. Sure, the on-again, off-again gamer will be more than happy to quote you all the famous lines such as “the cake is a lie”, but the on-again, off-again gamer very rarely finishes games, instead preferring to drag games out into year-long epics that would send any other type of gamer around the bend.
Don’t get me wrong, on-again off-again gamers enjoy the games they play — it’s just that they’re very rarely in it for the story; to the on-again, off-again gamer, any game (that has received suitable reviews from all the big gaming publications) is a game, and that’s usually good enough for them.
You spent three months painstakingly reading hardware reviews, comparing prices and warranties. You put on your anti-static wristband, got out your carefully de-magnetised screwdriver kit and spent six hours assembling your beast of a rig by the pale, flickering glow of a basement bulb. Right now you’re wearing the best surround sound headphones money can buy, reading this article at a resolution so high you can’t even pronounce the numbers, and scrolling around using a laser-precision gaming mouse that cost you four months of your salary. Yes, I’m talking about you, hardcore gamer. Here’s a tip: the industry doesn’t care about you.
Why can’t games.on.net write like this all the time?
Last Friday was the day (and night/morning after) of the Dark Media X13 LAN. I was pretty excited for this particular LAN, as I’d heard it was the largest LAN in Southern Tassie – and with roughly 90-100 attendees, I’m probably right.
Having been to an aXon LAN (the biggest LAN party in the North) a couple of years before, I had high expectations for this particular LAN.
For the most part, it lived up to those expectations, but it was certainly a lot different as well.
Maybe it was the fact that outside of our little threesome (Martin, James and I), we didn’t really know anyone (personally, anyway – I knew of a couple people in attendance, and I was Steam friends with at least 1 other person there), but it seemed as though you were a part of the “scene”, you were an outsider. Held up and compared to the aXon LAN where Rob (our host) knew pretty much everyone, and where we felt like honoured guests rather than just some guys who decided to rock up and play some games, and we felt like we were in our own little bubble.
Don’t get me wrong, it was pretty good – sure, there was no DC++ trivia bot to keep the masses amused, but it was, undeniably, extremely well organised – you ordered your food run over an intranet, which was then put into a DB, checked off, etc – and there was a heck of a lot of that filesharing thing going on, but as for the actual games – well, it kinda lacked.
I mean, sure, we had a couple of decent rounds of Counter-Strike:Source and Killing Floor with other people, but those were pretty much the only games that were actually played with other people. The rest of the time was spent trying to find free slots from people who were sharing terrabytes of stuff over DC, or just amusing ourselves in the DC++ chatroom, or even just going off and playing our own single-player games.
I’m not sure how many other people there were constantly enjoying games in the company of others, but organising games turned out to be hellish – getting people to join (and stay!) for any length of time was nigh-impossible.
Will I go again? Sure, if only to leech more HD content that my home internet couldn’t suck down if it tried, and I’ll probably play a few games of CSS and Killing Floor here and there.
At the end of the day though, going to DM X13 taught me one thing – games are better experienced with other people you actually know. Otherwise, you’re probably better off staying home and playing with randoms over the internets in pub servers.
Folks, I’d like for you to meet the latest additions to the Ling family.
Fawkes, and Voldemort.
We’ll start with Fawkes, because he’s definitely the most impressive of the two.
CPU: Intel E8400 3.0GHz/1333MHz FSB/6MB L2 Cache, $220
CPU HSF: Artic Cooling Alpine 11, $10.50
Mobo: XFX 780i SLI, $150
RAM: Team Xtreem Dark 4GB kit, $50
GPU: Asus EN9800GT 512MB, $100
HDD1: Western Digital 320GB WD3200KS, $40
HDD2: Western Digital 150GB Velociraptor, $130
Case: Cooler Master CM-690, $109
PSU: Cooler Master 460W, $30
Other: 2x Xigmatek 140mm fans, $44
OS: Windows 7 RC1, 64 bit edition, $0
Total Cost: $783.50
It’s not too bad. 😛
5. Downloads Priced Same as Discs
There aren’t as many test cases here yet, because few console games have been released in both downloadable and disc versions, but the data we have is disheartening. It’s much, much cheaper to sell a downloadable game: You don’t have to print a disc, and middlemen don’t take a cut. Win-win, right? More like win-lose. Gran Turismo 5 Prologue costs the same $30 as a PlayStation 3 disc or a PlayStation Store download. The disc is undeniably more valuable, since it can be resold. If the prices are the same, digital versions give gamers less for their money. (At least the IRS isn’t taxing downloads — yet.)
That’s just not fair.