Medal of Honor: Airborne

“Seize, clear and secure.”

This popular World War II action series continues with the first-person shooter Medal of Honor: Airborne. This highly recommended PlayStation 3 version definitely enhances this series, especially in the multiplayer online gameplay and ending story mode sequences.

This popular World War II series, which began in 1999 on the PlayStation game console, continues with several detailed missions beginning with July 11, 1943, and ending with March 27, 1945. This time the 82nd Airborne begins on the coast of Sicily, deep in Nazi territory, landing from the air.

The air controls challenge players to strategize their drop spot (complete with different incentives) while presenting a clear overview of the battlefield. This amazing beginning experience doesn’t deteriorate except for some minor battlefield events (due to the new AI feature), which decreases the realism a bit.

After the airdrop mission, you proceed to the Italian mainland, D-Day, and Germany while progressing to the 17th Airborne Division. As the title suggests, getting that high honor for heroic deeds remains the main goal. This installment has five types of medals with upgrades earned with good deeds, multiple kills, and headshots. An excellent cache of weaponry helps you achieve these goals, including the M18 recoilless rifle and staples like the Thompson, BAR, and Panzerschreck.

You can improve each weapon with frequent use, plus there are plenty of upgrades (get them faster through high-risk melee attacks) which are permanent once achieved and the game is saved (at various checkpoints). Solider position greatly affects accuracy, adding strategy and variety in battles. Cover becomes paramount in heavy fire situations. Get in cover quickly and often, then pop back out after your health has recovered. When you want vehicle options, the classic Willys-Overland Jeep comes complete with mounted weapons.

Online players (with an EA account) get a quick match, custom match, or create-a-match modes as they fight for scoreboard supremacy. Multiplayer mode offers Allied vs. Axis, Allies air, and Axis ground opportunities, plus objective-based modes. Players get battlefield-style games where they capture multiple flags for victory. All modes feature the new affordance artificial intelligence (AI), which creates a lot of exciting random events attempting to anticipate player moves.

Logistical issues like unrealistic barricades and heavy weapons’ lack of effectiveness on vehicles (grenades work better in some situations) affect the realism a bit, but watching and participating in these widely varied apparitions can also be very, very entertaining. Waiting to see when an enemy soldier will notice you’re a yard away, in an open field, can become a mini-game within itself. On the flip side, you can get enemies coming out of nowhere charging you, so you’re on your toes the entire time on top of the thundering sound and dialogue. Authenticity fans will have an issue with these elements, but war is hell and this game’s not afraid to ramp up the challenges.

The open navigation makes gameplay very exciting as each mission has many variables to boost the thrills and replay value. Besides the maps and compasses, you can listen to the radio and friendly chatter for helpful intel in the field. MOH: Airborne contains high production values (development began in late 2004) including great music from award-winning composer Michael Giacchino (Lost and Alias television series, M:i:III, The Incredibles, and Ratatouille) and quality cut scenes that have become a series staple.

The excellent graphics take this war title a notch above boosting the authenticity and overall game experience (***1/2 out of four stars). Rated T for blood, mild language, and violence. Also available on PC and Xbox 360.

Copyright © Michael Siebenaler

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