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Platform

Xbox 360

 

Genre

Shooter

 

Publisher

Electronic Arts

 

Developer

EA Los Angeles

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

September 4, 2007

 

 

- Up, up and away with vertical gameplay

- Plenty of missions and wartime activities, from snipering to blowing up tanks, to entertain the hardcore WWII shooter gamer

- Solid online play, including parachuting into the map and being able to sniper plummeting paratroopers

 

 

- Yet another WWII shooter?

- The Affordance AI sets off bizarre, unnatural behavior amongst enemy units

- Not much playtime (about 8 or 10 hours) through the game’s six single-player levels

- Running control (depressing left analog stick) leads to a sore left thumb

- Levels not as completely open as advertised, with invisible barriers and point-of-no-return areas within the game

 

 

Review: Medal of Honor: Vanguard (Wii)

Review: Call of Duty 3 (360)

Review: Medal of Honor: Frontline (XB)

 

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Medal of Honor: Airborne

Score: 8.0 / 10

 

The Medal of Honor franchise has been one of the more popular and respected World War II first-person shooter franchises around, revisiting the theater of war that shaped the world we live in today, with focus on the frontlines of Germany and Pearl Harbor in previous titles.

 

medal of honor airborne          medal of honor airborne

 

This time, Medal of Honor looks to the heavens for its inspiration, as the proud and fearless paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne in the waning stages of the war become the stars of the umpteenth WWII FPS game, Medal of Honor Airborne. Surprisingly, in what is a completely saturated genre, Medal of Honor Airborne is in the clouds above many WWII shooters, bringing very good branching missions, smarter and tougher enemy AI, and better-than-average online play together for a sky-high good adventure while it lasts.

 

Every mission has the player jumping into the fray – literally – as a paratrooper. That allows for picking the gamer’s starting point – a welcome break from linear gameplay – for a mission, which has several goals to complete and move into the

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next battle. Medal of Honor Airborne is touted as having completely open levels, but in reality the levels aren’t as open as advertised, as there are plenty of invisible barriers blocking your progression into certain seemingly open areas of the environment. Missions, however, are smartly designed with varied goals that not only require taking out Nazi soldiers but also tanks zeroing on the

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gamer in its crosshairs. Each mission should take around an hour, hour-and-a-half to complete, but since there’s only a handful of single-player missions, a typical Nazi-shooting gamer should be able to complete Medal of Honor Airborne in 8 to 10 hours.

 

The most enjoyable moments are when the gamer uses a sniper rifle to pick off enemies one by one with Medal of Honor Airborne’s “vertical” gameplay aspect. By virtue of being able to land on buildings after jumping from the plane, the gamer can use that completely to their advantage with a sniper rifle. It’s not as easy as a carnival shooting gallery, since the sniper rifle, as well as the rest of the weapons, have a "realistic" kick to them, which means gamers have to adjust the aiming accordingly to account for it.

 

There’s also an arcade-style weapon upgrade system. If a gamer performs well using a certain weapon, that weapon will be upgraded to a more powerful version. Along with its shooting, most of Medal of Honor Airborne’s other controls are solid, although running long distances can lead to a sore left thumb, as you have to uncomfortably depress the left analog stick and hold it to get sprinting.

 

medal of honor airborne          medal of honor airborne

 

Also making simply shooting Nazi after Nazi more of a difficult task is the Affordance AI. This in-game AI for the enemy soldiers gives them a reactionary intelligence – they know, based on the cover around them and shots you may have already fired, what is a “safe” spot to bunker down and counter the gamer’s actions with calculated actions of their own.  And while it does make for a more challenging game, Affordance AI also behaves rather strangely, because enemies will be set off in bizarre, unnatural movements, getting “stuck” in a particular cover point while acting like a spastic entity. Other times, right when you have them lined up with the perfect shot, they’ll run away, almost like they have some super Nazi ESP, knowing when you’re just about ready to blow their head off.

 

Online, Medal of Honor Airborne is a better-than-average foray, especially on the maps where one team is parachuting into battle. While it’s entertaining being one of the descending paratroopers, it’s just as fun to be the ground-based units that can attempt to shoot those paratroopers coming down to terra firma. Some of the maps can seem a bit too big, especially if there are only a handful of players and everybody’s playing sit-and-sniper style. Overall, though, Medal of Honor Airborne is solid online.

 

One final deployment of another World War II shooter utilizing a military branch not yet fully examined in game form to this degree isn’t completely unwelcome. Very engaging missions with excellent use of the environment in strategizing the method of securing victory combine with strong online gameplay for a WWII shooter worthy of the honorable mettle of the 82nd Airborne.

 

- Lee Cieniawa

lcieniawa@armchairempire.com

(September 25, 2007)

 

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