Where did Medal Of Honor go wrong?

by Gaetano 'Xbot' Prestia Featured 14 Comments 21 Votes 2300 Views 31/01/2013 Back to Articles

Just as many of us probably expected, the Medal Of Honor series has been shelved. Interestingly, it comes at a time when sequels make up a majority of blockbuster game releases, and shooters still appear to dominate sales charts.

So where did Electronic Arts go wrong with Medal Of Honor? The series’ last two releases are a shadow of the PS2-era games that made World War 2 shooters the mainstream material for the genre. And yet the series has been buried by its competitors, hounded by critics and despised by so many gamers, a sad case of what-it-coulda-beens and self-proclaimed prophecies of greatness.

It lacked identity

The Call Of Duty series is often mistakenly reported as being a “war simulator”, only it isn’t a simulator at all. The most popular shooter on the market, while admittedly losing a bit of steam, became the juggernaut it is because of its sheer accessibility and simplicity, not because it offered a realistic look at the complexities of battle.

So then why did EA try to turn a series so successful -- one might argue the success of the first Medal Of Honor in 1999 led to the creation of Call Of Duty, which first launched four years later -- into one so firmly embedded in notions of realism?

Maybe it was because it wanted to be something on its own, something that could differentiate itself from the Call of Dutys of the world but still compete with it on a grand scale. Sadly, in an effort to create an identity, the Medal Of Honor series is tragically defined as being a series without one.

Turning Warfighter on for the first time, I was met by a game unsure of itself: its ambition was blanketed by its own obsession with Call of Duty-esque map design, and a buddy system so influential that any failure to abide by the game’s focus on team play made the experience that little bit less enjoyable.

It’s inexcusably glitchy

Glitches and bugs were prevalent in both the 2010 release and last year’s Warfighter. The latter was so bad -- one only needed to play the beta for a brief insight to the horrors of the final product -- it required a day-one patch in the 200 megabyte region.

The series has also failed to balance the wannabe realism of the weapons with engaging mechanics. On the rare occasion Warfighter actually worked well, it was quickly hurt by glitchy firing (bullets shooting through walls), illogical grenade throwing (where you aimed to throw them and where they would land would often be a big miss), and awful AI that would often either get in your character’s firing path or drop dead for no apparent reason.

It was the big shooter that couldn’t

At the end of it all, Medal of Honor has gone from being the quintessential first-person war series, to being a big-budget flop with no identity, no consistent theme and no real direction. The campaign, while admirable in the 2010 iteration, ended up feeling like a cluster of erratic AI-controlled soldiers.

Both games also did a wonderful job of making us feel like we had open pathways and multiple directions, but we would almost always eventually end up heading down a linear path towards a predetermined location. While Call Of Duty sticks its head out from behind the door of linearity and repetitiveness, Medal Of Honor paints over it with the words “originality”. It hasn’t fooled anyone.

What does it all mean?

No one expects the likes of Battlefield, Call of Duty or Medal of Honor to have especially deep and intriguing narratives with characters we’ll care about. But at least characters like “Ghost” are recognisable. Heck, Black Ops 2’s marketing campaign was almost exclusively focused on Frank Woods.

Medal of Honor made us care somewhat, but it lost every bit of intrigue and interest with Warfighter: characters were nameless, directives were confusing and enemies mindless. While Call Of Duty takes the Michael Bay route with its senseless, sensationalised look at war, Medal of Honor tries to critique the moralities of it, only it fails miserably next to the likes of Spec Ops: The Line.

Where to from here?

The series might be in better hands at Crytek. The Crysis series is popular, accessible and unique, three things the Medal of Honor series desperately needs. Forget about trying to replicate the complexities of war, ditch the real-life war operatives, and return to what made Medal of Honor so popular.

By Gaetano Prestia

What do you think hurt the Medal of Honor franchise so much? What did it do right? Share your thoughts below

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Where did Medal Of Honor go wrong? Comments

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I don't think Warfighter was the 3/10 some people were claiming, it was just generic, generic, generic.

It pretended to be this massive big advancement using all of the worlds special forces but it just...wasn't.

It deserved to be bought by nobody.

Ben said:
It deserved to be bought by nobody.



That's what my parents say about me.

Anyway, it wasn't bad, a solid 6/10 I guess. But that's not going to help you compete, nor lead to a better product overall.

It lost me at launch update.
I bought it, I wasn't impressed with the 2010 release at all. I finished Warfighter in about 6 hours, it was just so linear, generic and boring.
Some sections I would deliberately try to take an alternate route, only to realise later I had to run to a marker to trigger the next battle scene.
Also, sprinting through gunning everyone down only to have AI pop up right in front of you like a ghost, and kill you with one shot, drove me crazy.
i liked the game but now i hope they bring back Bad Company cos that even craps all over Battlefield 3
"Just as many of us probably expected, the Medal Of Honor series has been shelved."

I thought this might happen when Warfighter was released. 'Dat' day one update, bringing with it a massive list of bug fixes, and reportedly no copies being sent out to press for review.

EA both wanted to push it out the door, and had little to no faith in the overall product. Here's the big wigs take the time to consider a new approach for a series that deserves better than this.
Totally agree, the medal of honour franchise failed when then released one of the games in 2010. One of the worst modern fps I have played.
i think the way CoD has become such a knowable franchise that other fps games are copying from it which is what medal of honor tried to do but trying to be different at the same time.

if the developers decided to make it its own game more and wasn't pushed out the door then it would of been a great game that would live up to its early day reputation.

i for one loved both games though no matter what people said. the few changes they put into warfighter i found really good and a nice change and has much potential.
The first MOH remains my favourite of the series, with MOHAA taking second place. Once the influence of COD started showing they started getting messy. Pacific Assault was just an abortion, as was Airborne. The reboot looked to breathe new life into the game, but after playing the Beta it was clear that wasn't happening.

One of the worst things about MOH for me that has been pissing me off since ever game after MOHAA, is the god damned engine. Movement feels overly accelerated, clumsy and stilted. It just makes combat feel not fun, like you're in the body of a character with stilts on or something. Call of Duty on the other hand is absolutely lightening fast and rock solid like the very best shooter engines are (Half Life, Unreal, Quake.. All of them).

They seem to have taken the realistic style of human movement from DICE, but have applied absolutely no expertise to it so you have some kind of "uncanny valley" for body movement. DICE generally nail it to the point the realistic interaction to the world feels amazing, whereas MOH games just get it wrong and it would feel better if it was back on 90's era tech..
Aaah... Spec Ops was beautiful in how it questioned the whole basics of war and the emotional juggernaut of combat dilemma

Ghosty said: Aaah... Spec Ops was beautiful in how it questioned the whole basics of war and the emotional juggernaut of combat dilemma



Aaah, yes. A mindless shooter dressed up as an emotional tale of conflict and the affects of war :P
I loved all the ww2 medal of honor games,
thats what got me into shooters..
the sounds more so than anything ..
but now over the last few years thought they were
trying to be like COD games...
I won a copy of it and enjoyed the multiplayer, at least; nothing special but a nice way to kill a few hours on a Saturday night. I don't really play FPS games all that much these days, so maybe it's because I don't have a yardstick to compare it against that influences my opinion.
A FPS game that tried too hard but failed. Cutscenes look gud though.

Beta said:

Ghosty said: Aaah... Spec Ops was beautiful in how it questioned the whole basics of war and the emotional juggernaut of combat dilemma


Aaah, yes. A mindless shooter dressed up as an emotional tale of conflict and the affects of war




LOL i wouldn't be too that hard on the game, yeah the gameplay was not much to talk about but so wasnt of Mass Effect trilogy either. Atleast Spec Ops had a decent plot unlike COD or Medal of honor.Picked it up on steam sale and loved every bit of the game :)

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