Medal of Honor
Published on Wed Sep 13 2023
I've recently been enjoying a series on YouTube by Josh Strife Hayes where we plays through an older game and asks himself - "Was it any good?". It's a pretty well written series and I suggest it! That said, sometimes I find myself having to not watch the whole video, and instead go to play or buy the game myself as he seems to be having a great time and I don't want to spoil things for myself or miss out on personally experiencing what turns out to be a great game. So was the case with Medal of Honor (sorry Josh!).
The first thing I did was to check the control schemes. It's not the default, but one of the schemes (I forget specifically which now) is actually pretty close to modern setups with L2 to aim down sights, and R2 to shoot. You can use the left stick to move and strafe and the right to aim, and it's pretty solid overall. I found myself intuitively shooting from the hip at close range and aiming down sights for farther targets, which is how it should be with this style of game (as opposed to heavy auto-aim like earlier shooters such as Doom). Overall it controlled very well and was never really a hinderance despite the many years since the game's release during which time control schemes have been honed massively.
The story gets a small nod; I didn't exactly find it engrossing, but I appreciated that it was there for what it was. There weren't any twists or anything, it's straight up simple World War 2 Nazis are bad shoot them kind of stuff. There was a bit of personality from the characters who give you your mission briefings (all two of them), and they do start to get a smidgeon more personal as the game goes on. Again, nothing fancy or deep, but it exists.
Gameplay never really got too intense which is fine by me, nor did it get boring. The cadence of increasing difficulty was just right, and the levels were short enough that dying meaning you had to start the level over again was never a huge hinderance to progress. The most deadly weapons the enemies used were grenades which can be difficult to see sometimes, and panzerfaust rockets which once or twice came from unseen enemies, causing immediate death. The game has a ranking system which I always appreciate, though I was disappointed a bit in its implementation. The game gives you a bunch of stats after each level and then assigns a star ranking; unfortunately the star ranking is based solely on whether you've killed all or most of the enemies in the level, and how much health you had remaining when you exited the level. So even in stealth missions where you're meant to remain undercover disguised as a Nazi, the method for a 3-star ranking is to kill everyone, often resulting in a guns blazing approach which feels counter to the design.
Overall it was a great game and I'm glad to have taken the time to play it. It wasn't too long or too short, not too hard nor too easy. It was a just right porridge of a game, nice and simple, low stakes, fun. If I played it as a kid I imagine it'd not have been my favourite series, but playing the first game would have definitely gotten me to keep up with the series. I'll probably pick up the next game and give that a go.