Medal of Honor Heroes Q&A - The Greatest Little War
Group producer Peter Choi gives us the initial details on this newly announced portable installment in the venerable WWII shooter franchise.
Given Electronic Arts' longstanding tradition of getting an unthinkable amount of mileage out of all its banner franchises, you had to expect that a new installment in the Medal of Honor series would show up on the PlayStation Portable sooner or later. Indeed, the company has just taken the wraps off Medal of Honor Heroes, the first game bearing the popular MOH name to hit Sony's small screen. In order to bring you the first details on this new entry, we went straight to the source: EA group producer Peter Choi.
GameSpot: Obvious question first: How did you approach bringing Medal of Honor to the PSP?
Peter Choi: We are very excited about the opportunity to bring the Medal of Honor franchise to the PSP and to create a unique experience that is custom-made just for this platform. We designed features and created a storyline that is rooted in the MOH universe while building all new content and gameplay exclusive to the PSP. Gameplaywise, we created a great first-person shooter with intuitive controls and dynamic artificial intelligence, all while staying true to the key tenets of the franchise, including World War II authenticity.
The wireless online capabilities of the PSP and the FPS multiplayer action of MOH are a perfect match, so early on in development we made it our goal to deliver a robust and dynamic online multiplayer experience including 32-player support, a wide variety of game modes, and user-hosted PC servers. We created new characters and storylines specifically for the handheld platform, as well as found ways for some familiar characters from past games to reprise their roles and play through all-new campaigns and adventures.
GS: How are you telling the story through each campaign? Still images, in-game cinemas, or rendered CG?
PC: The storyline follows three heroic characters through three unique campaigns and is told through mission debriefings and cinematic sequences, which include actual WWII footage.
GS: Will each campaign be accessible from the start of the game, or will they have to be unlocked?
PC: Players can unlock new campaigns after completing previous ones. Within each campaign players can replay any of their completed missions to try and achieve the highest medals to rank up and unlock awards. The length of each mission really depends on which of the three difficulty levels the game is played on and whether or not the player simply completes primary mission objectives or goes for higher ranks and awards. I would estimate that it will take the average player about a few hours per campaign.
GS: How much work is involved in translating the MOH gameplay to the PSP?
PC: We've spent a lot of time on the performance and visual quality of the game while also pushing to increase the size of levels and number of enemies onscreen. To create a unique experience for the PSP we created a whole new dynamic AI system, all-new level designs, and totally customized controls, as well as dedicated a great deal of time to the multiplayer features.
GS: How have you handled the PSP's control limitations?
PC: Translating control schemes always presents a challenge, but, knowing this, we tuned the controls based on information we received from focus testing. The results are intuitive and accommodate all the advanced controls that gamers are accustomed to with the console, including leaning, grenade cooking, and melee attacks. The default control scheme, Commando, plays the most like a console game, but we have three alternate schemes that cater to different styles of play, including Elite, Pathfinder, and Sniper. We've also added the ability to adjust the speed of aiming so players can customize this and other options, like inverted look.
GS: What weapons have you included in the game?
PC: There are a wide variety of authentic WWII weapons, from short-range SMGs like the Thompson and the MP40, to ranged and scoped rifles like the M1 Garand and Gewehr G43 and, of course, some nice big rocket launchers, like the M1A1 Bazooka and the German Panzershreck. There's definitely something for everyone, and it will be a blast to see all the different weapons colliding in multiplayer.
GS: Will they differ between campaigns?
PC: Weapons will differ between missions and campaigns and have been distributed based on the specific type of gameplay per level. In skirmish mode, players can also customize missions and can select weapons of their own choosing.
GS: Have you tailored the gameplay in the various campaigns to be more PSP friendly--playable for short stretches at a time?
PC: We have definitely tailored the game for the PSP with the on-the-go nature in mind. Missions have several levels of objectives and stats that can be achieved, allowing for different levels of depth and time investment. Plus, each mission can be replayed to earn higher ranks and medals. We've also added a brand new single-player skirmish game mode, where players can play a quick, one-off mission scenario and can customize the scenarios for endless replayability.
GS: How did you approach the multiplayer modes in the game? Will they offer both ad hoc and infrastructure connectivity?
PC: Multiplayer is one of the most exciting features of Heroes. We have 32-player infrastructure support with continuous joining so players can simply pick a server and jump in anytime. There are 15 different maps and six different multiplayer game modes, which are mostly team based. We also have a new innovation on the PSP that allows players to download a user-hosted server to their own PCs and run their own dedicated servers. Both user-hosted servers and EA Nation server games are fully customizable, and we have very detailed leaderboards and stat-tracking. Players can also play all these multiplayer game modes and maps with up to eight of their friends in a local ad hoc multiplayer game.
GS: Can you walk us through the game's different multiplayer modes and what they offer?
PC: There are six different multiplayer game modes, five of which are team based. I'll give a quick description of each one. Battlelines is a game where teams battle over control points on a map; the more of the map you control, the more points you earn. Hold the line requires one team to hold a position while the other team tries to overrun it. In demolition, the Allied team tries to blow up enemy targets while the Axis tries to defend. Domination is a game where teams try to control all the points on a map simultaneously. In infiltration, teams try to infiltrate the other team's base to steal their flag and get it back to their own base, while also defending their own flag. And of course we have deathmatch, which is your classic fragfest.
GS: Will you support voice chat?
PC: While we don't have voice chat [via the PSP headset], we do have in-game chatting with a new simple alphanumeric keyboard, as well as preset quick commands allowing teammates to quickly communicate with each other with commands like "Enemy spotted" or "I need backup."
GS: Will the multiplayer maps be original, or will they reuse content from the single-player game?
PC: All of the maps for the PSP are new, and the multiplayer maps are shared from the campaign mode.
GS: How will the various skins be unlocked?
PC: Players earn medals based on their mission performance in campaign mode, which leads to higher ranks. When a player reaches a new rank they can unlock one of over 20 classic MOH characters to be used in online multiplayer gameplay. Players can also earn special medals for achievements in the campaign, which will also unlock special characters.
GS: How will the customized mission scenarios work?
PC: In skirmish mode, users can customize their mission scenarios by choosing different options like number of enemies and allies, weapons, time limit, point limit, and more. An example is if a player wants to play a map equipped with a bazooka against 16 enemies--good times. Or I may want to play my favorite map from the campaign as a quick deathmatch game with a dozen AI opponents. There are many combinations of options that create a large variety of gameplay scenarios for lots of replayability.
GS: Thanks for your time.
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