Medal of Honor Infiltrator Hands-On Impressions
We spend a little quality time with the first original Medal of Honor game to hit the Game Boy Advance.
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After checking out Medal of Honor Rising Sun at Electronic Arts' Camp EA press event, we went looking for Infiltrator, the recently announced Medal of Honor title for the Game Boy Advance. When we finally tracked it down, it was hiding in the pocket of an EA representative who was overseeing the demo station for Medal of Honor Breakthrough. With all of these new games in the venerable World War II series on the horizon, how will yet another entry set itself apart, especially when it's appearing on the small screen of the Game Boy Advance? Fortunately, the team behind Infiltrator realizes that if the game is going to succeed, it must be a part of the Medal of Honor series and also take advantage of the platform it's running on. With that in mind, Infiltrator replaces the series' signature first-person-shooter-style gameplay with a classic overhead 2D action perspective. The game's producer commented that the GBA is the ideal platform for people who want to pick up a game and play it for just a few minutes at a time, and so Medal of Honor Infiltrator is designed for this style of gameplay while maintaining the essential elements of the other games in the series.
In the main gameplay mode in Infiltrator, you'll view the action from a top-down view and guide your character, Corporal Jake Murphy, through a variety of different missions. You have a standard rifle as your main weapon and also a demolition-oriented weapon, like a grenade or bazooka, as a secondary weapon that you can switch to at any time. The weapons come in pairs, and you'll be able to enter bunkers scattered throughout the levels and swap out your current weapon set for a new one. The game will also feature vehicular combat, and in fact we got to hop in an empty tank and lay waste to enemy forces with the cannon and treads for a bit. Some levels, such as the ones we got to play, will be a free-for-all in which you simply battle enemy forces single-handedly as you progress toward the end of the level. But in true Medal of Honor fashion, other levels will have a clearer mission structure, and you'll have to use stealth and ingenuity as well as brawn to complete your objectives. In addition to the main gameplay mode in Infiltrator, there will be a few shooting-gallery-style levels in which you'll simply move a crosshair around the screen, firing at enemies, protecting key vehicles, and that sort of thing. This mode seemed to play well, and the cursor movement was surprisingly accurate with the GBA's directional pad. Given that the first-person shooter gameplay of the previous Medal of Honor game on the GBA didn't go over all that well, it's refreshing to see that EA is taking a different and potentially more appropriate approach with this handheld sequel.
Infiltrator's graphical style is considerably more cartoonlike than any of its predecessors. Previous Medal of Honor games have all had quite a hard-edged, realistic look, but Infiltrator is a bit reminiscent of the 2D style in games like Metal Slug. Again, the change actually seems appropriate since Medal of Honor Underground's 3D graphics didn't work so well on the GBA. The game still establishes historical context in a number of ways, such as by playing a lengthy FMV intro utilizing old war footage.
Medal of Honor Infiltrator is still fairly early in its development cycle--the team has the basic functionality of the game in place but hasn't begun tweaking the balance yet. The team is including a few other bonuses as well, such as connectivity with the GameCube version of Rising Sun (the GBA will function as a mapping device) and two-player cooperative play with two linked GBAs. From what we've seen, Infiltrator may turn out to be a solid action game that will please fans of both the Medal of Honor series and fast-paced action games. Look for more on Medal of Honor Infiltrator as its fall release date approaches.