Video Games

Medal Of Honor: Airborne

XBOX 360

It is difficult to imagine a gaming landscape devoid of the World War 2 sub-genre; such is its popularity with consumers and the alluring quality of its key titles. The current generation is a perfect place for the legion of the genre’s ardent fans to shoot, snipe and stab their way through WW2 locations and re-enactments, and titles such as Call of Duty 3 and Battlefield 1942 have come closer than ever before to fully realizing the war experience.

Medal of Honor, however, is the title that started it all. Never before had war been so accurately or strikingly realized than when the original game appeared on Playstation back in 1999, and after a few dips in quality (Rising Sun, anybody?), the series is blasting its way into the current generation. Can WW2 gaming’s flagship title do enough to revitalize a rapidly stagnating genre?

The answer is, for the most part, a resounding yes. You can tell from Airborne’s outset that its developers have been asking themselves the right questions. The difficulty with the WW2 genre is that the nature of the subject matter leaves little room for innovation by definition; other than realizing different cosmetic ways of fully immersing the player in the experience. Airborne introduces an entirely fresh gameplay mechanic, and drops you from a sweaty air carrier into a living, breathing battlefield. Gaming does not cut in and make the process any easier; this is WAR, and war stops for no man. As such, the action occurs on all sides of you constantly, your only safe landing spots marked out by green flares.

The developers effectively show you the melting pot, and then ask you where you think you should be landing without getting too killed to shit in the process. This naturally calls for a more tactical approach; drop too far from a safety zone, and you will be shot. Lots. It’s all gravy though, because getting shot is something you’ll have to get used to doing in Airborne. The enemies in the game’s sprawling battlefields will not hesitate to pop caps in your Allied ass if they find you meandering across open space, shooting wildly in every direction. Take cover, make the most of your squad members, aim carefully and effectively, and you might just live to see your wife and kids again.

Airborne is an incredibly immersive videogame, gleaming with typically stunning EA presentation in every aspect of its makeup. Attention to detail in this title is second to none. Bullets crack and whistle past your helmet, your squad members bark instructions and chatter amongst each other, your character’s muddy hands grab for nearby support should you botch a parachute landing; the title has clearly benefited from the grunt of the new generation of consoles.

The game is by no means perfect, however. There are occasions upon landing when your squad are nowhere to be seen, miraculously reappearing after several minutes of solitary battle against the incredibly accurate enemies (how the HELL did he see me from all the way over there!?), the heads-up indicator that informs you how far a recently thrown grenade is from your person does not appear whilst sniping, meaning you have to listen for that awful clinking sound to avoid getting blown into effing Narnia, which is not always that easy due to the amount of in-game noise at any one time. The game is also over far too quickly, expanding over just six chapters and the take-it-or-leave-it online options.

Ultimately though, this a stunning return to form for the Godfather of the WW2 shooter. Challenging, immersive, and genuinely playable, Airborne should set the precedent for forthcoming titles of the genre. More please.


Jon Beach