It takes a lot of guts to jump from a moving object and even more to jump from an airborne plane. A game that focuses on a specific point of entry for each mission has not been used to any great extent, particularly because it can make for repetitive gameplay. In Medal of Honor: Airborne, however, you start each and every mission in a plane. The next step you take is into the open air and your descent into your next battle begins. While this is fun for a bit, the rest of the game is somewhat more average.
The Medal of Honor series has been lacking a certain striking point for a few games now. Although the titles seem to improve slowly it still seems to be getting a bit stale, as if the developers have lost their motivation. A new light has beckoned for Medal of Honor though, and this light is set to re-ignite the declining series by taking a fresh look at how battles are fought not just from the ground but the sky. In Medal of Honor: Airborne the player starts each mission jumping from a plane onto the battlefield (with a parachute of course). The player has total control over where they end up. They can either choose to aim for a green smoke flare, where allies and supplies are plentiful; a rooftop, where they can pick off the enemy from above; or somewhere else entirely. This freedom of choice puts a bit more control into the player’s hands on how the game pans out. Not to mention the freedom of levels.
MoH: Airborne was created with freedom in mind, not just one specific path to follow. The levels are spread out and open-ended to cater for the player’s new point of entry - the sky. Once on the ground the player has a set list of objectives to take out. Upon completion of all mission objectives the player gets a transmission from headquarters about a certain situation taking place – it is up to you to respond to these situations. These final orders for that level are the hardest to complete and require a lot of patience and perseverance. Your buddies continually drop from the sky so there is no shortage of support for these final pushes but the task at hand is usually too great to complete until you make an advance yourself. This is the classic part of the MoH series: you do all the hard yards.
Weapons in the game are the same as the ones on the menu from the original MoH titles. There is no great advance on how they feel except for the ability to upgrade them. As you use a particular weapon more and more you may notice a small progress bar located inside a silhouette of your current equipped weapon in your HUD. This progress meter measures how much further you have to go until your next upgrade for that weapon. When you finally hit that you are thrown into a slow-motion mode with limited vision and unlimited ammo. Smart players can take advantage of this situation to pick off a few German soldiers without any hassle. The upgrades you receive for the weapon range from added bullet power to scopes, up-sized magazines, anti-recoil stocks and many more. The player is treated to even more weaponised bliss as they get to choose what weapons they start off with before each mission. This can alter your movement on the battlefield so choose wisely.
The levels can last anywhere between one to two hours; this length means that certain levels can become tedious but failure does not result in a total mission restart. Instead you spawn from your last checkpoint…in the air. This respawning system kicks some serious butt since it means that players can choose to go down an easier route instead of having to retry the same difficult piece of the level over and over again. No need to worry about incredibly difficult situations though. Both the AI of your team mates and the enemy are balanced, leaving you to swing the ball of battle into your court, except for the small matter of team mates jumping into your cross hairs when you have lined up the perfect head shot.
Multiplayer is slightly reminiscent of Battlefield 1942, except for a distinct lack of vehicles and open levels. There are two teams – American paratroopers and German soldiers. The American team spawns in a plane at the start of each round and drops down to any location they desire. This is also the case when the player dies – they get the privilege of respawning above the battlefield. The German team gets the disadvantage of movement but gets the opportunity to pluck the enemy out of the sky plus the benefit of setting up ambushes for wannabe American snipers.
The graphics for Airborne are not a huge graphical push for the Xbox 360. They do however provide a relaxing treat to the eye that has witnessed many sick-looking previous generation titles. The artillery strikes around you and the spotlights in the sky provide more excitement than a German wetting his pants as they create a real atmosphere of war. The sound for the game is more prominent and clear - players may even find themselves with a slight case of 'shellshock' from the bellowing drums of war plummeting into the earth around you.
Good job EA, you have finally given a parachute to your declining series and now you are ready to pick yourself up from a botched landing and create a truly next-generation shooter. To all who are still skeptical about this new spark within the bowels of the MoH series then at least download the demo off Xbox Live. It took us about twelve hours to complete the game on the normal difficulty setting but multiplayer will generate many more hours of enjoyment to add to the game. The only off-setting thing about this WWII shooter is once again the lack of the mighty Kiwi troops that fought valiantly for the Allies. Aside from that we shall see you descending from the heavens to deal your hand of justice in the near future!