PC Zone quizzes EA exec producer Patrick Gilmore about the return of the publisher's WWII first-person shooter series...
What's been your role in the Medal Of Honor series?
I was executive producer of the first Medal Of Honor title, then I moved off to do other things. I came back to EA about three years ago, and got straight back onto Medal Of Honor with Airborne."
You've got another iconic WWII scene in this game, with the crew waiting in the plane for the green light. How important are those gritty, realistic scenes for you?
They're very important. The feeling of being on a Higgins boat when the front goes down on Omaha Beach - that's not just something straight out of the history books; that's truly iconic. Finding those moments has been pretty important to the franchise, but not central. It wasn't the first thing in our minds when we decided to make a game based exclusively on the airborne forces, but very shortly after making that choice, we realised that standing in the jump door of a C-47 was going to be another one of those moments.
Does working on these games turn you into a bit of a war historian, then?
Some titles more than others, but yes - we obviously have to do a lot of research. We make the game authentic to the oral histories - it's a collage of many different experiences. At the end of the day, it's about fun, but making the experience resonate is an important aspect of what we do."
When you play, how free are you to decide where you want to land?
From the moment you leave the plane, you have full control over your parachute and where you land. Every surface in the game is playable, so you can land on rooftops and balconies, on top of walls, in back alleys or on top of your primary objective.
Is it tactically sensible to follow your colleagues, though?
That really depends on you as a player. If you're not an expert FPS player, then you should land near the green smoke, where there's allies and health packs. If you're an expert player, you can go ahead and land directly on the rooftops of the main objective and dismantle it in pretty short order.
Just how badly can you mess up a parachute landing?
When you botch a landing, you hit the ground, then you have to take the time to stand up and unbuckle your chute. If you chose to land in a difficult area, they'll be firing at you, and you're going to take some punishment. There's also a flared landing - this is better, but you still have to remove your parachute. Ideally, you want to have a greased landing, where your gun will be in your hands half a second after your feet hit the ground.
No-one will find themselves stuck in a tree, though?
We did do a lot of talking about snags. It's possible we may have them in a later iteration of the game, but we decided not to have them in this game. Getting stuck in a tree, it turns out, was not super-fun.
So how does the Affordance system work with the AI?
Traditionally, most shooters have the AI hiding behind a couch, and he'll jump out at you, then jump back. The illusion that he has a brain wears off pretty quickly - and the average lifespan of an AI is around five to ten seconds for this reason. Our players do a wide variety of actions based on Affordances - a bunker offers affordance, high ground, a tree - and the Affordance engine scores everything in a way NPCs can understand. Most of the tuning happens by changing the environment.