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30 Reviews

Medal Of Honor

Review: Afghan we dig it?

Looking for a more in-depth single-player verdict? Hit the link for CVG's Medal of Honor review.

On Xbox Live and PSN, two Superpowers are fighting it out for supremacy in the online warfare theatre. But which one is winning the battle for new recruits - Battlefield or Call of Duty?

Well, in truth, they're not even fighting the same war. Although superficially similar, both series are drastically different once you scratch beneath the surface, and so are the people who enjoy them.

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Call Of Duty is bold and brash, the shooter of choice for the archetypical frat boy. The kleptomaniac structure of CoD's perk system rewards aggression, bravery and above all things, self-preservation.

On the other end of the spectrum, Battlefield is the thinking soldier's playground. Rounds can last for hours rather than minutes, teamwork is essential, and the destructible landscape makes fleetness of thought a more powerful weapon than anything you can carry in a backpack.

But is there any room for middle ground between these two extremes? Medal of Honor's multiplayer makes us think that maybe there is. This is the fast-paced skirmish gameplay of Call of Duty viewed through the lens of Battlefield devs DICE. But it's no shoddy cover version; instead, it's an accomplished, confident online shooter that draws from the best of both worlds.

Running off a modified version of Battlefield's Frostbyte engine, Medal of Honor's multiplayer component has an instantly familiar feel to it, bar a few concessions to accommodate the tighter level spaces (the ability to demolish entire buildings is the biggest absentee, although in certain instances it's still possible to chip away at cover to leave an opponent exposed).

One thing that DICE has carried over extremely well from the Battlefield series is the organic feel of the map layouts. While Call of Duty's arrangement of crates and rocks are laid out in meticulous detail, there's a natural spontaneity to MoH's battlegrounds, which results in a wonderful sense of subversion once you learn how to exploit your surroundings.

This is true of both the smaller maps (such as Kabul City Ruins, where with a bit of practise you can bound from rooftop to rooftop without ever needing to touch the floor) to more expansive stages such as the Shahi-Kot Mountain Range.

From the Call of Duty side of the gene pool, Medal of Honor has inherited the volume. Explosions are loud and proud and you can practically feel the splash damage gushing into your living room, meaning you're constantly surging around the course on a wave of adrenaline.

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HEAVY MEDAL
If anything though, it isn't quite loud enough - DICE have eschewed Call of Duty's booming CONGRATS YOU HAVE UNLOCKED A SILENCER method of communication in favour of a more restrained HUD, but this can make it difficult to tell when you've racked up a high enough score to deploy the Support Actions.

It's a minor annoyance, but one that can be overlooked with experience. Is MoH's multiplayer innovative? No. Is it without flaws? Most definitely not - the most painful of which is its incredibly erratic respawning system. But what it does bring to the table is a well-crafted, balanced shooter that's kinder to newcomers at the point of entry than CoD or Battlefield.

In particular, its biggest triumphs are the storyline-driven Combat Missions, where teams of 12 duke it out in epic battles that sweep across the Afghan terrain. We're big fans of Battlefield's equivalent Rush mode, but we appreciate that the patience and teamwork required makes it difficult to get into unless you're playing with a squadron of friends.

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