Back in the late 90s and early 2000s Medal of Honor was a force to be reckoned with. This, of course, was prior to the days of a certain Activision juggernaut known as Call of Duty and fellow Electronic Arts shooter Battlefield. But in those days, Medal of Honor was the quintessential console first-person shooter, combining (at the time) unprecedented storytelling, advanced enemy A.I., stunning graphics and competitive multiplayer that gave GoldenEye a run for its money. How things have changed.
After lagging consumer interest in the mid-00s, EA finally decided to reboot the franchise and abandoned the World War II setting for a more contemporary feel with 2010’s eponymous release. Reviews were good but not great, with many arguing the title was saved by its multiplayer while the campaign did little to challenge any pre-conceptions of the genre. However, sales were solid and a sequel was given the green light soon after. That’s a solid foundation to build upon then for the then-upcoming Warfighter, right? Not quite.
Frankly, Warfighter’s release late last month has proven just one thing as far as we’re concerned: Medal of Honor is struggling to find its place in the market alongside its contemporaries. The problem is the series just doesn’t do enough to differentiate itself from the competition. Warfighter was blasted by critics upon release, and EA itself has conceded the military shooter has performed below expectations – not exactly the springboard you need for the future of the series. These days, if you’re not CoD or Battlefield, then you have to be something REALLY special to turn heads; and sadly, Medal of Honor just isn’t doing anything to warrant interest for the mainstream consumer.
The campaign is essentially a by-the-numbers blaster designed to emulate – not innovate – on Call of Duty’s success. Battlefield’s trump card was its sumptuous visuals and destructible environments, supplemented by a comprehensive multiplayer mode. Call of Duty is, well, Call of Duty; however this year Black Ops II sets to really shake things up thanks to its dynamic storytelling and gameplay. Juxtaposed with these two giants, Warfighter comes out decidedly generic. Set pieces? Check. Linear missions? Check. Pop-up enemies that are practically begging to be shot at? Check. There’s nothing here you haven’t seen below, and while the MoH brand name certainly carries some clout – it made no.1 in the U.K., after all – it’s unlikely to be so lucky a third time, unless EA and the developers really turn the aging MoH paradigm on its head for the next entry.
Can Medal of Honor survive alongside Call of Duty and Battlefield? Do you think the franchise needs a kick up the arse? Let us know in the comments section below.