Medal of Honor: Airborne Final Hands-On: Floating to Your Doom and the Spoils of War

We've survived the first mission of this wartime first-person shooter intact, and we're back with a full status report.

What could a World War II first-person shooter do that hasn't been done before? Well, if our time with Medal of Honor: Airborne is any indication, there's still plenty of room for the genre to grow. We played through the first dramatic level of the game this week, and we're impressed with just how visceral and exciting it was. So grab your grenades and ready your parachutes, because you won't have long to wait; Medal of Honor: Airborne ships in less than two weeks.

The game begins with a brief introduction to the mechanics of parachuting--and it's a good thing, because it's not as easy as it sounds. Steering to the proper destination takes a good deal of precision, and you need to be conscious of your speed and facing. You can flare your parachute to slow you down, but gravity is inevitable. Actually making the landing also seems tougher than you'd expect, but if you manage not to botch it in the Xbox 360 version, you'll have a shiny new achievement to show for it. When parachuting, you're looking for the green clouds of smoke, where you'll find relative safety and a number of friendly troops to provide covering fire.

Making a flared landing is tougher than it sounds.

The first level, Infinite Mischief, is the very definition of trial by fire. As 82nd Division paratrooper Boyd Travers, your task is to destroy four antiaircraft turrets in the Sicilian city of Adanti. You will choose your loadout before the mission even begins, though it's worth noting that you can exchange your current weapon with those you find on the battlefield later. Faced with a few options, we armed ourselves with an M1928 Thompson submachine gun, an M1 Garand rifle, and a trusty Colt .45 handgun. Once the mission loaded, we had little time to react, and after a brief cutscene, we descended nervously toward the looming city.

It didn't take long for us to notice that this isn't your typical linear shooter. We could land essentially anywhere we wanted to, and in our first attempt, it happened to be smack-dab in the middle of a throng of enemy soldiers who were quick to fill us with lead. It was immediately clear just how important our parachuting skills would become, because the better you steer, the better your chances are of staying alive for the mission. We improved in our second attempt, landing safely on a rooftop and surveying the situation below.

The iron-sights view gives you plenty of room to maneuver.

But things looked pretty bleak, considering the battlefield teeming with enemies. The recoil on our tommy gun made it tough to fire with accuracy, so we decided to play with the iron sights. When you switch to this view, you're no longer able to move, and the movement controls become leaning controls. This gave us a lot more freedom of movement than we were used to when leaning in other shooters, so we were able to pick off multiple targets without moving from our position.

Drop Zone

We eventually made it to the ground, where we started to make progress toward the first turret. Even with the help of our fellow paratroopers, we had to move slowly and carefully. You won't run-and-gun in Medal of Honor: Airborne. Careful aiming is important, and you need to be constantly aware of your surroundings. As far as we can tell, you aren't able to lie prone. However, we made good use of sandbags and other objects to stay hidden. From behind these objects, you can enter the iron-sights view and lean forward to pop out from behind your cover and take potshots at your foes. If you're used to cover-focused games like Gears of War or Rainbow Six: Vegas, it may take a few moments to get used to the scheme, but it didn't take us long to get comfortable with staying out of harm's way until we could clear out enough room to move forward.

Earning medals gets you weapon upgrades.

Then the mission got even tougher, given that two of the antiaircraft turrets were on the roof of a large, multistory mansion. A sniper at the top made it tough to advance--in fact, this part of the game reminded us of the infamous "Sniper Town" level of Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. Once we made it through, we found the roof was no picnic either. The game throws a multitude of enemies at you, and the artificial intelligence is tough. Your enemies rush into buildings to pick you off from windows, flank you from all sides, and move to higher levels for a better shot. Through it all, they are constantly chattering in Italian, which gives the impression that these guys are indeed coordinating their attacks. Your teammates do the same, urging you to look out, calling you by name, and shouting at you to press forward.

As we became more familiar with the weapons, we started to become more proficient with them and unlock upgrades. After a run of successful kills with the tommy gun, we earned a pistol grip for it, which made us even more accurate. Whenever you earn an upgrade in this manner, the game goes into slow-motion, reminiscent of the "bullet time" sequences of shooters like Max Payne, which gives you a chance to savor the moment. And speaking of achievements, those obsessed with earning them in the Xbox 360 version will be happy to note that you start earning achievements from the moment you begin playing, so expect your skill to pay off immediately.

The production values in Medal of Honor: Airborne are terrific, thanks to the Unreal 3 engine, which powers the graphics. The level of detail in the environments is impressive, down to the clutter of ransacked rooms and the detailed textures of the mansion's walls. The lighting and shadows are also striking. Bright spotlights provide a contrasting glow against the darkness of alleys and balconies, and shadows flicker against stone walls and iconic statues. The sound design will also grab you. The din of battle is constantly bombarding your senses, and it imparts a frightening sense of urgency.

The level of environmental detail is fantastic.

We've only scratched the surface of Medal of Honor: Airborne, but we're impressed by what we've seen so far. Rather than a linear crawl from one objective to the next, the game lets you accomplish your goals in any order you wish, from any direction. It's an impressive and daunting way to begin your missions, and we look forward to seeing if the full game can carry that momentum from beginning to end. With any luck, Airborne will prove that World War II shooters still have a lot to offer, and we can't wait to get our hands on the final game.

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Discussion

184 comments
mike_baks
mike_baks

I'm gonna repeat myself, because so few people (including Gamespot) seem to notice that this game has horrible particle effects, truly horrible crap! Just shoot at a wall and look at those horrible grey blobs that pop up, look at a grenade blow up and see how crappy and fake it looks, the green smoke you see when you drop down, doesn't look like smoke at all, just some weird looking textures rising up. Again, better check out Relic's "Company of Heroes" and the upcomming add-on "Opposing Forces" on how it should be done, particle effects by talented folk that know what they are doing!!!

Snake0406
Snake0406

I played the demo with everything set to high, it made my dual core 3.4ghz run at 100% but it played very smoothly in the hours playing it. This game is not just the best looking game i have encountered but also the gameplay and uses unique and easy controls for PC.I rate this game 10/10!!!!

Cruzadr
Cruzadr

Forget Halo 3, I'm gonna be getting this one for sure. Not much for hyped up fanboy games so this'll suit me perfectly, played the DEMO and was sad when it ended. This is what battle is like, moments of sheer terror and noise and confusion, followed by bloated lulls, deathly silence and hurry up and wait. Awesome.

capitancahonas
capitancahonas

batuo, you could have been playing the 360 version, by what you say I had a similar exp with the live demo. The A.I (as usual-sigh-) was cack. I know that we were only facing minimally ranked enemies -according to one of the menu's- but the ease of mowing them down did get pretty boring pretty quickly. Really though, what do we expect from EA? COD is a better arcade experience, and BIA feels much more authentic though not as fun. Regardless, the MOH brand will probably sell well and this is def' looking the best in the series...

RonLau
RonLau

Oh and one more thing, I'm pretty sure that nearly all or at the very least the majority of 360 gamers will be getting Halo 3 for sure, so when you compare the VALUE of getting Halo 3 over Airborne...it just all ticks in place. That's just my opinion I suppose...

RonLau
RonLau

I have to say that Airborne has breathed life back into the MOH franchise. It's exhilirating even before you begin your jump; a man two troopers ahead gets nailed by AA fire - that could have been you! Moments later you are plunged into dark sky, your only companion, the flashes of AA fire, marking your objectives. From your bird's eyeview, you know it ain't gonna be easy. That I suppose nails what the demo delivered from the start! The game iooks pretty decent, but not absolutely amazing from what I've played. However, which leads me to question whether I should get the game over other military shooters coming out soon after...eg. BIA: Hell's Highway, unless someone can convince me otherwise...

starsky303
starsky303

Played the demo. Gotta say, I'm pretty impressed! The view-bob coupled with motion blur adds more action to an already action packed level! Someone said earlier about not feeling like they were immersed in battle... that's b*llocks. This game's gonna rock!

claireed
claireed

Has anybody heard what the system requirments are for the PC version.

m_stifler
m_stifler

batuo--u must have been playing a diff demo than everybody else *rolls eyes*

firo999
firo999

haven't played the demo yet but it looks like it's going to be great i mean directing a parachute to land wherever u want is really nice i only saw that in just cause however lets hope EA fixes some of the rag doll after dead problems and the prone problem and most importantly to have destructible environments

termadoyle
termadoyle

I can't understand just how a little parachuting gimmick can change the tedious onslaught of WWII shooters. and since this is from EA, then only two words spring to my mind: Rip Off.

batuo
batuo

I played the PC demo of Airborne, and I was pretty disappointed. First of all, the game turned into a run-and-gun after playing it twice, mostly because of the crappy AI. Even on the highest difficulty, I found I could just spring+jump straight at the enemy and gun them down. And if I ever lost any health, I could just run and find one of the boundless number medpacks scattered throughout the map. The AI never use any flanking tactics or anything like that and don't seem to be able to aim. I've seen, more than a few times, two AI's standing right in front of each other and not being able to hit anything. Sometimes, when I sprint past the enemy , I've seen Italians spawn right in front of me. In addition, I really hated the smoke and debris effects. The green smoke did not look like or act like real smoke at all. The dirt kicked up by grenade explosions looked ridiculous. There seemed to be no bullet impact effects included at all and no bullet whizzing effects; I just did not feel immersed in battle.

r2d2_cun
r2d2_cun

blue_ice212121 You should get CoD, you'll find good things in that game too. Don't stick only to one franchise.

LahiruD
LahiruD

I played the Demo. Game is pretty cool but I think CoD4 will be better. Anyway I will play Both games

DoWGamer
DoWGamer

I think we all know that CoD is better then MoH. Exspecially with CoD4 coming out this winter.

the_joker90
the_joker90

CoD 3 may have been linear but u dnt get the stupid feeling of being one man fighting the war by himself. In CoD 3 you were lots of people fighting in companys in small battles, while in MoH your 1 soldier who runs and guns his way through an army of enemys on some stupid mission.

pogswarts
pogswarts

try getting the AI patch blue ice, that has made the game for me seem a ton better

blue_ice212121
blue_ice212121

strictnein your right im up on the roof and when ever i come slowly to the edge the guy down below will turn around and shoot me like how did he know i was there, or the guy with the machine gun on the top of the mansion can shoot me from far away but i can not snipe him, i'm almost dead from him and the gun he use has very poor range they need to fix a few things........im a huge fan of MOH and never got COD because MOH started it all...........................

bg_solidsnake
bg_solidsnake

I've always loved the MOH franchaise coz i play it from its first game!But the past years have been quite rough for MOH and good for COD.Lets hope MOH:A will beat COD.Get read to get Airborne!

blindsided82
blindsided82

Regardless of the fights between what franchise is better, I have to say that after playing the demo of this, I am kinda hooked all over again. I really like the not quite so linear gameplay, the sound effects are a huge step forward from past games, and the overall graphics do very well too, from the blurring effects when you're getting bashed in the face with the buttstock of an enemy rifle, to the crazy good lighting effects. The ability to upgrade your proficiency with weapons as you use them is a very cool addition too. I think that as CoD moves on and keeps doing great with it's own little niche, this MoH at least will keep gamers playing.

d3r7y
d3r7y

CoD is making the best move imo. WW2 can only do so much for you. Im tired of fighting my grandfathers fight against nazi's. I wanna fight today's fight againts middle eastern terrorists.

Sirjonah
Sirjonah

Haha some people are just ridiculous, saying that CoD always has been better then MoH. Because the MoH started 6 years or so before the CoD franchise and don't forget MoH: AA! That game is one of the best shooters ever imo. Don't get me wrong in the past few years Cod was way better then MoH, but maybe it will change with this MoH. I thought the demo was a lot of fun and I liked the freedom of it. And for the record you can prone in this game.

Mr_Manikin52
Mr_Manikin52

There should be a bonus mission where the player can as a German Paratrooper during the Battle of Crete.

strictnein
strictnein

Unfortunately Medal of Honor: Airborne features psychic bad guys. Way too many times I've been crawling around on roofs, slowly leaning over the edge and coming upon a guy with his back to me who somehow magically knows exactly where I am and so he spins around and starts shooting. Or guys who target me from far across the map. The worst is the guy with the machine gun on the top of the mansion. It's ridiculous.

ddt88
ddt88

COD 3 was very linear by nature. MOH: Airborne will have open ended gameplay to reach your objective. Bombfanatic, it's a bold statement to say COD is & will always be better than MOH. COD3 was on rails from start to finish & only let you make decisions like go left or go right. Admittedly COD has quite frenetic missions, so it'll be interesting to see how MOH: Airborne performs against it this time around. COD4 will be a different story. Hopefully it won't be as linear as COD3. It would be hard to say which is the better game in the franchises before they are released. So we'll have to wait & see.

bombfanatic
bombfanatic

Call of duty 3 will be much better than this, COD has always,and will always be better than MOH

mike_baks
mike_baks

"Medal of Honor: Airborne" has some the worst particle effects that i've ever seen. Just look at those horrid bullet impacts and grenade explosions! A shame really, because the rest (character models and great sound) of the game is top-notch!!! If only Relic Entertainment worked on this game, those guys can pull some amazing stuff off, just check out "Company of Heroes".

ChainsawChief
ChainsawChief

I had a lot of fun with the demo. The lean controls are nice when behind cover and the enemies are even more challenging on expert. I also had fun with the upgrades like the combat knife. I can't wait till this game comes out September 4th.

WizengamotX
WizengamotX

Only one complaint - the control setup and lack of lean and prone. That's pretty much it. That demo is pretty fast moving for a demo though. A tutorial level woulda been alright. It's a big jump from AA.

Sokol4ever
Sokol4ever

The PC demo was fantastic, looks very good. After about 5 minutes new aiming down the sight leaning became a breeze. Very well done. Just to update most of you non sayers, you can run and shoot no problem, but not in the aim mode. Have a little knowledge, WW2 people weren't "Rambo" style soldiers. (Heck even Rambo didn't aim) When you aim down the sight to make an accurate shot, you DON'T MOVE... as simple as that. If you want to run and shoot, you can do it, but there is no need to bash a great game because of your own ignorance. The game is made that you use cover and lean, teamwork.. Welcome to the strategic and more realistic FPS genre, I'm glad the games are starting to make you actually use those few percent of the brain that we have instead of mindless arcade run and gun.

slayergav666
slayergav666

you should also remember that allied soldiers wernt always the good guys and also not invincible like EA makes them out to be, remember Mod: Underground where it was Mannon vs Nazis. Me gets the feeling like this will be a bit the same

Asscapper
Asscapper

for those that say that they are tired of ww2 games remember there's people who still appreciate what the allies did for us and like to recreate the heroics acts those soldiers did and remember them.besides you don't hear us ww2 gamers saying to for example "people that like to play only football games" that they should "stop making your football games",just because it's the same thing all the time,you see you like your thing and we like ours,that all.

Loopy_me
Loopy_me

this game looks great, though i havent played the demo yet and im hopeful it'll really turn out good my bigger hope though is...that they wont make any more wwII games... this is more than scraping the bottom of the barrel...we're past wood...in the dirt... we need the entire shift to modern warfare games... moh seems to be the last one..hope they make the jump with the next game

Hatefish2
Hatefish2

You guys are mistaken, you CAN walk with your sights up it is just very slow. You hit the sprint button while sights are up and it allows you to slow walk. Did gamespot seriously not realize that ? lol

OnlyTbone
OnlyTbone

guys, use controller scheme 2, almost just like halo.... anyway I thought this demo was awesome. My second time through i accidentally landed on a power line!! very cool... love the lean aim thing

Ghost0240
Ghost0240

I thought it was pretty cool. Awsome graphics. Didnt really like the controls. Also didnt like that u couldnt keep moving forward while aiming. But other than that its pretty tight.

marq6969
marq6969

DID ANYBOBY FEEL THE CONTROLS BEING A BIT SLUGGISH GOING FROM PLAYING A GAME COD4 BETA AND RAINBOW 6 VEGAS THE CONTROLS WERE VERY MUCH SLUGGISH TO ME. AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO NOTICES THIS?

cejay0813
cejay0813

I know what all these guys mean by the left stick, left trigger prone thing. Lets say you're kneeling behind a sandbag, when you aim down your sights and press down on your left stick (not the button, but actually down) you will duck lower almost as if you are, in a way, prone. Only way to tell is to see what that looks like in multiplayer when you see everyone else do it... Other than that I think the guys is just ducking down further. Play the demo again if you dont know what im talking about

nickske1
nickske1

I played the demo and this game is really good, the graphics are amazing. Your weapons can be upgraded when u kill enemies. I hope that the multi-player is also good.

Postal_Guy
Postal_Guy

only good thing about this game is that u can accomplish the levels any way you want and that u can parachute yourself. the good part stops there. as people said before me the AI is complete bs. they just do random stuff. i felt like shooting a bunch of mentally retarded kids. Call of Duty still pwns this and always will.

KungfuKitten
KungfuKitten

Hmm i don't really like how the AI is pretty straightforward. You feel like a genius there on the battlefield. I would have loved to be outsmarted by a digital enemy once.. Sometimes they just sit in front of You thinking they are covered or something. But, i think it works best this way for the gameplay. There are many enemies so it does become challenging. And they are pretty good at dodging nades, i wasted quite a few on just 1 meatbag.

Raijian
Raijian

Left trigger + left stick down is not prone, It's a lean.

valttu
valttu

I can't wait for this game. I've seen the trailers and they look great. I hope, and I believe that MOH Airborne will the best WWII fps ever.

oli_kester
oli_kester

i completely agree with jure05 - when I tried it, I found that they LOVE jumping over stuff. Once, a nazi I was standing next to ran into a building, jumped out the window, ran back through the door and repeated, wondering why I killed him. This needs fixing.

jure05
jure05

Whats up with the AI? they are complete idiots... they are taking cover not behind but in front the desk???? and they are running in the field like chickens with heads being chopt off. I know that in demo we have level1 and 2 "trained" soldiers... they aint trained to me.... hope its only in demo... but I doubt it.... moha team do something about it!!!!

NinjaMunkey01
NinjaMunkey01

I will definitely get this. MOH European assault was great. the game was much more difficult which was good since MOH rising sun was very easy. anyway the more WW2 games the better. all the games set today are completely different in style and gameplay and if we lose the ww2 series we loose the whole style of gameplay that comes with it.

teh_leeto
teh_leeto

I haven't played a MoH since Frontline, and this game sounds like something I might want to pickup. At least from this preview the parachuting doesn't sound like some gimmick, which is cool.