Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Medal of Honor's Badge of Failure, Or Why I Hate Its Online Multiplayer

I just got back from college this past week to enjoy the wonders of XBOX Live again (since I can't get wireless up at school). After picking up a pretty good deal on Gold for three months thanks to Live's annual summer sale, I settled in to try out Medal of Honor's online multiplayer again for kicks because I wasn't ready to start Red Dead Redemption online yet. Perhaps this was a premature decision.

I've never really enjoyed Medal of Honor's multiplayer system except for those first throes of glory when I started playing. The model for the games is inherently flawed. Spawns are very limited and it means tons and tons and tons of spawn camping, especially in the big team games like Team Assault or Domination. Sniper rifles are incredibly overpowered from high distances, and if you like to stick to the outside and tops of levels and have a steady aim, this game will be your friend for hours. There's nothing wrong with sniping every now and then, but when all of the very limited levels include almost untouchable places reserved for snipers, it becomes an egregious flaw in level design.

These sniper camps allow for players to net numerous kills without moving from their position, granted the fact that they're skilled enough to take out flanking soldiers, which is often easy when other team members are protecting their precious killing force. This is a good strategy; however, it shouldn't be the only one. Most games allow players to forget about the objectives in lieu of getting kills, getting killed, rinse, and repeat. And ultimately, what might have been a fun minigame turns into a crap shoot as players run out from their spawn base and immediately get their head blown in by a well-placed sniper.

Medal of Honor also limits the player's customization by including only three types of soldiers and then limiting the guns these soldiers can use. The rifleman seems good at first, a run-and-gunner who gets right up in the forefront with smoke grenades and a quick gun, but it's all too easy to be owned by a lone, unmoving sniper. The special ops class means a fairly quick runner but with all the glory of chucking grenades at foes. However, the grenades are almost useless based on their bounciness, more like flubber than a piece of chucked metal. The sniper class is useful in the ways I outlined above, but it also takes some getting used to and one either needs to be able to find a great hiding spot or really enjoy sitting around for ten to twenty minutes to do well as the class.

Blocking is another huge issue that really needs some work. It's a huge mistake when players are leaning behind a rock wall and get hit by stray bullets from a sprayer yards away. This might be due to lag, but it might also be due to poor blocking in the programming. Bulletproof walls would have been nice.

The class progression is not very well executed, and it certainly doesn't make the player feel like continuing. The unlockables are limited and not useful; some are as helpful as alternate gun colors. For a game that should have a lot of playthrough depth with the level progression, Medal of Honor offers up more of the same type of play level after level.

With the lack of good multiplayer games, poor blocking and spawn programming, and an unbelievable penchant for allowing snipers to rule the levels, Medal of Honor has become one of my most hated online games. But I'm really getting hooked on Red Dead's...

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