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The Medal of Honor Reboot

Should we give it a second chance?

08
July
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When acclaimed movie director Steven Spielberg develops the story for a video game, the franchise most likely has some promise. That?s how the Medal of Honor franchise started in 1999, a game commended for its great graphics, gameplay, and AI. The game arguably started the gaming world?s obsession with World War II shooters.

Its success lead to a prequel (Medal of Honor: Underground), that focused on a character named Manon Batiste, a member of the French Resistance. This game too received critical acclaim, especially for its outstanding story telling. However, the franchise really started cooking when Medal of Honor: Allied Assault was released on Windows. In my opinion, the game is most famous for letting the player relive the historic invasion of Normandy. It also featured a strong multiplayer that supported up to 64 people. The Medal of Honor franchise made its appearance on all three consoles in 2002 with the release of FrontLine, this symbolically marked the beginning of the end for the MOH franchise.

On October 29, 2003 a game entitled Call of Duty was released for Windows, and gaming would never be the same again. It was impossible not to compare MOH and COD, they both focused on the same historical periods, and their game plays weren?t all that different. COD did have some unique characteristics, such as multiple story lines and famous war quotes when you died. COD was reviewed extremely well and garnished several ?Game of the Year? awards. Two weeks after the release of COD, EA released its most recent expansion MOH (Rising Sun). A game that Gamespot reviewed by saying ?these days, Electronic Arts must expect the Medal of Honor games to sell solely on the strength of their name along.? That is making a pretty strong statement, especially when a competitor?s game (designed by two guys that produced earlier MOH games) was received so well.

Rising Sun started a trend among MOH games, which was to rely on its predecessor. However, its predecessor was no longer the franchise from 2002 that set the industry standard. Instead it was mediocre across the board. At this point, COD started to gain steam, first with an expansion (United Offensive) and then a sequel in 2005. However, the nail in the coffin came in 2007 when in September EA released MOH: Airborne and two months later Activision released COD 4: Modern Warfare. MOH: Airborne focused on the paratroopers that became famous during WW II. The game received admirable reviews; IGN said Airborne was ?definitely the best game in the franchise to come along in quite a while. However, COD 4 focused on the modern day, and did just a little better (sarcasm). It sold over 13 million copies and became one of the most critically acclaimed games of all time. Since 2007, MOH has been a no show (exclude the Wii). COD has captivated the gaming nation with COD: World at War and Modern Warfare 2 selling over 11 million and 14 million copies respectively.

Here we are in 2010, COD is now the industry standard for modern warfare video games, and EA is praying MOH can once again captivate the attention of gamers. I believe 2010 will be a reversal of fortunes from 2003 for EA. In my opinion (which I have stated in other posts), the COD franchise is now on the way down. Activision has lost the talent that made the COD franchise so special, and that?s Infinity Ward, or at least a major part of it. On the other hand, EA seems to be doing something very smart for the MOH franchise by allowing EA LA to develop the single player campaign, and DICE to develop the multiplayer. EA LA is a studio known for developing strong single player and strategy games, while DICE makes some of the best multiplayer games around. This could be a perfect storm for MOH to finally reclaim its throne atop the gaming world. After all, DICE developed Battlefield: Bad Company 2. What made Battlefield a very good game instead of a great game was the lack of a strong single player campaign. If EA LA can develop a strong single player, Activision might have a problem on their hands, because it?s only a matter of time before RedSpawn (Ex-Infinity Ward employees) come back into the shuffle.

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