Genre: First-Person Shooter
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA LA
Release Date: August 28, 2007
We've been bombarded with so many different variations of the war fought by the greatest generation that we sometimes fail to realize just how multi-dimensional the event really was. EA presents us with Medal of Honor: Airborne, which follows the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division — the front-line fighters who were sent parachuting behind enemy lines, with orders to lay the groundwork for the ground troops. At a recent multiplayer event, we were unleashed on the EA LA compound and were treated to a multiplayer shoot-out — both in MOH:A and on the shooting range. That's right, they let me hold a machine gun, the fools!
There are three different multiplayer modes, all of which are team-based: Deathmatch, Airborne Deathmatch, and Airborne Objective. Deathmatch is just as you'd expect it to be with teams, but unlike the two other modes, everyone starts on the ground. Airborne Deathmatch adds a twist by having the Allies parachute into the map, since the areas are already controlled by the Axis powers.
Airborne Objective is a team battle to control objective points on the map. The Allies parachute in and attempt to capture objective points while the Axis powers are on the ground and trying to capture and keep their objective points. It's similar to Unreal Tournament's Onslaught, where an objective point can be taken back by either team. There are three objective points on each map, and you need two teammates to capture it, although only one enemy player is needed to convert it into a neutral point. This encourages team play, although a team can still do well if players are doing their own thing.
While parachuting in, you're able to look down and see where everyone is on the map, so you can maneuver your parachute to a rooftop for an ambush, or land behind a rooftop sniper. This works out really well because snipers won't last very long in one spot so you're not constantly being killed in the same location by the same person. Another black mark against camping snipers is that when you get killed, the camera follows the bullet trajectory to show you the location of the person who killed you.
If you land too close to the ground, you run the risk of getting killed, but on the other hand, if you land on an enemy player and use the melee attack, you can kick the enemy to perform an instant-kill. It's not as easy as it sounds when people are scrambling around below you, but it can be very gratifying when successfully carried out. Another thing to note is that all of the rooftops that I saw were accessible from the ground, so don't expect to be impervious to an Axis flank while you're hiding on some rooftop.
There are six multiplayer maps that are playable in all game modes, each supporting up to 12 players. Three are conversion maps from the single-player campaign, and three are unique to the multiplayer portion. The maps are set in the aftermath of bombings in cities and rural villages, as well as a German bunker, complete with trenches.
When you start playing ranked games, the guns will start in the default state, with no upgrades; depending on the server settings, unranked matches can utilize the upgrades. As you play more and improve your skills, you will gain weapon upgrades, which will improve weapon speed, accuracy, and firepower. The upgrades are persistent so the more you play, the better your weapons will be in the long run, allowing casual players to keep improving and not be at a disadvantage against seasoned gaming marathoners.
Both the Axis and Allies have five different types of primary weapons, which you select at the beginning of the game; you can switch between the weapons when you hit pause. A rifle is the de facto infantry weapon, and it's represented by the familiar M1 Garand on the Allied side. There is also a sub-machine gun, which is represented by the Thompson on the Allied side and an MP40 on the Axis side (a personal favorite because of its firing rate and midrange accuracy). The Browning Automatic Rifle on the Allied side and the STG44 on the Axis side are automatic rifles that are good for faster firing rates but deplete their ammo quickly. There is also an anti-tank gun, but because there are no vehicles, it's really only useful if you want to clear out a small area or exact an exaggerated revenge on that unlucky player who killed you as you were just about to win a gunfight.
Of course, there is a sniper gun for the patient gamer who wants to deal death from afar. When you're using the scope with the sniper gun, you're able to zoom in further. It also blurs objects that are at different distances, to give you warm and fuzzy feelings if you enjoy the realism as you take your shot. Taking the shot with the sniper gun is very involved so it's not for the impatient gamer; when initially aiming, you'll notice that it's difficult to align the crosshairs with your target. There's a meter on the left side that look like two halves of a crosshair, and as you bring them closer together, it becomes easier to move the scope in small and steady motions.
The airborne experience is something that hasn't been done before in multiplayer mode, and it's fun because sniper camping is greatly limited, and it's possible to make a comeback. Based on the multiplayer aspect alone, I'd say that Medal of Honor: Airborne is a good selection for anyone wanting to play a more tactical FPS rather than an outright frag-fest. Look for it on store shelves later this month.
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