It took a month, but the Medal of Honor beta finally came out for the Xbox 360.

So without further ado, my first impressions and basic overview.

The first thing you will notice about Medal of Honor is that it is a beautiful game. There are two maps available in the beta, Helmand Valley, and Kabul City Ruins. Helmand Valley is a sprawling mountainous region in Afghanistan that plays home to the Mission gametype. The Mission gametype is similar to Rush from Battlefield: Bad Company 2, the assaulting team is charged with destroying and capturing a series of objectives within the map. Kabul City Ruins is a close quarters urban warzone in which players go head to head in what basically amounts to team deathmatch.

While the game visually striking, the positives really end there for me, I had a friend describe it as being “Beautiful, but basically a cheap Modern Warfare knockoff” while I don’t necessarily agree with the way he put it… he’s basically right.

Before the beta came out for any of the systems, people were describing it as a combination of Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and Modern Warfare 2. This description is true for the most part in that the maps are larger and more varied, while the battles still retain the intensity of close to medium range combat that Call of Duty is renowned for.

Unfortunately  Medal of Honor seems to have also acquired the worst parts of both titles. Combat is brutal and unforgiving, and with the state that the beta is in you’ll often find yourself in a state of utter dismay, as the player you just fired half a mag into will simply turn around and put two rounds through your chest… killing you instantly. Most hit detection issues are likely to be gone once the full game comes out, but it makes for a bad first impression.

In typical Battlefield fashion, your character feels sluggish, boxy, and altogether unresponsive. Having a slow character model is something you can get away with in Battlefield, but in an urban environment where a quick dash between buildings means the difference between life and a respawn… it just doesn’t work. And similar to Modern Warfare, you will frequently find your character getting stuck on the tiniest of objects. That brick that you didn’t see in front of your foot? Ya, it just got you sniped.

The weapons and weapon upgrade system are also a source of frustration for me. DICE really has a thing for separate class leveling, just as they did with BF: BC2, you have to level each class individually. With every level you gain in a particular class, you receive upgrades that add and detract stats from the stock weapon.  My biggest issue in regard  to the weapon attachment system? They really don’t add enough of a bonus to affect your weapon in any real way. The M24 (the best sniper rifle available in the beta) doesn’t do enough damage to kill anyone in a single shot (besides a headshot) adding ammo that increases the damage of your weapon still doesn’t give enough power to kill in a single shot.

Killstreaks or Score Chains as they’re known in Medal of Honor are one of the only bright spots in an otherwise unspectacular beta. By getting kills and completing objectives you earn points towards these Score Chains, upon reaching the required amount of points you are provided with a choice between two different actions. At 40 points (the first score chain requirement) you can choose between intel (which basically amounts to a UAV) and a mortar strike.   So the choice is yours, depending on the situation you’re in you might choose to boost your own score, or decide to help the entire team.

Overall the beta is anything but unique. Medal of Honor takes few positives and a great many negatives from the games it emulates. Gameplay mechanics are sketchy at best, poor hit detection and intermittent lag-spikes make a poor impression despite just being a beta. Hopefully most of these issues will be addressed before the full game releases on October 12th.

– Nick Barker

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