2 Reviews

Medal of Honor: Airborne

Medal Of Honor needs you! Or at least, it needs a 'u', tuts Jon Blyth, before taking another dainty sip of Darjeeling

Hi. I'm a Nazi. I'm currently fighting in World War II, which will look ace on my CV. We had a hell of a time deciding what to call this war. Some people said we should build on the 'Great War' franchise, and call it 'Another Great War'.

It had a jolly ring to it, I thought, but then Officer Schneider told me that we were the baddies, and we had no place being jolly. I don't listen to Schneider, much. He's such an old-school baddy, always clacking the heels of his boots together, like he's trying to get back to Kansas. As this is 1943, I have no idea why I said that.

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Anyway, there are these guys coming down in parachutes, and because we're at war, I suggested to my nefarious colleagues that we should probably kill or torture them, because they looked like good guys. Everyone agreed, and decided to hide around the town.

We saw where the stupid goodies were landing, and ran to hide behind some stuff. Schneider calls it 'taking cover', but I think 'hiding' sounds a bit more evil. Now, I love killing people with machine guns, so I ran for the machine-gun outpost.

Stupid Klaus was running for it too and got there first, though. After turning back, I see that most of the nearby cover is taken, so I think bollocks to it, I'll run at the enemy. Not much else to do, reall... hey, brilliant! Klaus got shot in the head! Right, I'm running back to the machine gun before anyone else bagsies it.

OUT OF CHARACTER
Hi. I'm the reviewer, and that was a dramatisation of a scene I played in Medal Of Honor: Airborne. I wrote it from the point of view of a Nazi soldier for two reasons: first, because this review counts as part of my GCSE English course work.

Second, because I saw it happen, and I enjoyed watching the AI make that kind of decision. Anyway, Airborne is here to rescue the MOH series from endlessly repeating history, and to try and kick the iconic - but flagging - franchise up the arse.

The main innovation in Airborne, and the one most obvious from the title, is that you play Boyd Travers, a paratrooper in the US Airborne Division. The tactic of dropping soldiers into enemy territory from planes was a new one for the '40s, and it's one of those ideas that - once heard - you're surprised nobody has converted into a game before (well, not for a few years anyway).

So, after an unskippable but extremely short tutorial, that's exactly what you'll be doing. Incidentally, the tutorial focuses on the novel aspects of the game. A basic knowledge of games is taken as read. Lessons appear to have been learned from Pacific Assault here.

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With this first innovation came a necessary second. Because you can drop in anywhere on the map, the AI required the capacity to deal with a foe that wasn't guaranteed to approach from one end of a corridor.

So NPCs - both allies and enemies - respond purely to their surroundings, as affected by your presence. When the game was doing its initial rounds of first-looks and hands-ons, the word 'affordance' was bandied around. Even then it sounded a little bit like a catchy repackaging of common sense, but it goes like this.

Everything in the game environment has a value, either positive or negative. A small chair will have a small positive value. Hiding behind a tank will be safer, and more appealing, so will have a much higher value. A grenade appearing between your feet will have a high, and negative, impact on the desirability of your location.

Like I said, it's an attempt to translate common sense into numbers, and as satisfying as it is to throw a grenade over a sofa and flush the Nazis out into the path of your SMG, in this day and age we'd be justified in putting our tongue in front of our bottom teeth and going "durrrr" for three minutes if it didn't happen this way.

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