Review

Medal Of Honor: Above And Beyond Review

  • First Released Dec 10, 2020
    released
  • OQ

Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond has a good foundation for its WWII action, but poor pacing and a poorer story hold it back.

Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond marks a return to the series' historical roots as well as its first foray into virtual reality. It's been a long time since we've stormed the beaches of Normandy or liberated Nazi-occupied France in a Medal of Honor game, but Above and Beyond strives to bring us back to that familiar WWII experience within the new technology. Being asked to answer the call of duty and return to the battlefield in a new Medal of Honor is an exciting prospect, but Above and Beyond is far too simple a shooter and far too restrictive to ever feel engaging like the series once was.

Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond's campaign is composed of six major missions, each of which is broken into smaller sections, moving you from location to location as you make your way through the story. Each moment of gameplay has you moving through a small area and using a variety of WWII weaponry to take out Nazis. These moments can feature you walking around on foot or, at times, in the back of a vehicle.

Some of the action sequences can be a little too intense, including a sequence where my character was in the back of a moving truck and shooting enemies in the opposite direction, which made me especially motion sick. That said, Above and Beyond offers some great comfort options to help alleviate motion sickness. These include settings that let you tweak turning increments, turn on tunnel vision when sprinting, or even let you skip more intense action sequences entirely and continue through the story. These were enough to alleviate my own issues with motion sickness and made it possible for me to make it through every section without skipping through them. Starting up a new VR game without knowing how your mind and body will react to its movement can be intimidating, but Above and Beyond's options help mitigate discomfort you may experience throughout its duration.

Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond (screenshots provided by the publisher)
Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond (screenshots provided by the publisher)

Using classic weapons, especially single-shot rifles like the M1 Garand, makes for some enjoyable shooting galleries between cutscenes. Shotguns or long-range rifles feel appropriately deadly, capable of taking out an enemy with a single shot and sending their lifeless body to the ground. Wielding the powerful Gewehr 43 sniper rifle or using the iconic Walther P38 pistol against an onslaught of enemies can deliver some exhilarating moments. Automatic weapons, however, don't feel entirely accurate or powerful, even when you feather the trigger as you take aim at enemy threats.

Some of my favorite firearms to use in Above and Beyond include the lever-action repeater and the sawed-off shotgun. The repeater feels more like something out of a Western than a World War II epic; once you shoot down an enemy, you flick the right controller to reload it, causing the repeater to spin in your hands as if you were a Wild West trick shooter. Likewise, the sawed-off shotgun requires you to flick the right controller to flip the barrel open, throw your shells in with the left controller, and flick the right controller closed before you fire off another shot. Most of the guns have standard reload animations and functions, and while I really enjoyed these quirkier animations, they feel tonally disparate from a game featuring short documentaries of real veterans.

As you play through Above and Beyond, you unlock new documentaries that feature World War II vets telling their stories. Available in the Gallery section of the main menu, these videos are genuinely great, giving a platform to an important generation. It's moving to hear these men speak of their past, and while I expected a bleak set of films, it was a very human and uplifting experience watching them--the introductory video starts with a veteran who notes that one of his medals is for his professional conduct but that it just means no one caught him, laughing like a grandfather being silly with his grandkids. So, it's disappointing then that Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond never strives to do anything meaningful with its own story, sidestepping the reality of war and the humanity of those in it.

The campaign too often forces you to stand or sit still, watching the stilted characters and uninteresting stories play out around you. A lot of the dialogue and situations are standard WWII fare, and none of these moments carry much personality or weight. You're often not a central player in any of these scenes, either, acting as more of a spectator than a character. A cutscene in any non-VR game is easy enough to sit through, but the dynamic changes when you're plugged into virtual reality and literally standing around as characters talk about how they're going to foil the Nazis' latest plan.

During these scenes, there are moments when you're asked to contribute, such as giving a thumbs up or choosing where squadmates will be for an ambush. However, these moments don't feel particularly impactful when the events actually play out. And even if your choices and actions had more weight, the content of Above and Beyond's setpieces is still bland and uninspired; as I stood there and waited for characters whose names I had forgotten to finish their conversations--sometimes pulling out my pistol to dump a few magazines into the air--I couldn't help but get fidgety and want to stop playing altogether.

Conversely, Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond's multiplayer is all action. Moving around a map, finding other players, and shooting them down is satisfying, especially when you're on a good run. As fun as it is to shoot players in a non-VR game, there's a sense of shocking immediacy when you see a real person running at you and a greater sense of accomplishment when you dominate the other team. Your own movements, accuracy, and reflexes get you that win. It's exciting in these moments, but being on the other end of a dominant player's iron sights can quickly turn frustrating, as racking up respawn timers means a lot of (literally) standing around and waiting to get back into the action.

Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond (screenshots provided by the publisher)
Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond (screenshots provided by the publisher)

Most multiplayer rounds turn into games of deathmatch, even if it's an objective-based match type. This is typical of many first-person shooters, but it feels exacerbated here by a lack of explanation for modes like Mad Bomber. Above and Beyond tells you that you score points by planting your bombs and defusing enemy bombs, but that's it. This vague direction devolves each match into who can get the most kills, which gets you points anyway and almost always decides the winner.

This wouldn't be as disappointing if not for the low player count. In the majority of my matches post-release, I've only been up against one real player. Above and Beyond fills each match with bots, so you're never left without a full game, but they're still bots and can't pose the same challenge or satisfaction as having to outplay a real person. And while the guns are exciting to use, I found my personal favourite to be overpowered. The Repeater has a fast reload speed and is always a one-hit kill. It's not so bad when you're facing another player who can easily take you out if you miss your first shot, but when it's you in a match with mostly bots, it becomes a relatively simple shooting gallery.

Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond is a disappointing return to the classic series. While its gunplay is satisfying, the moments where it shines are all too brief, stunted by cutscenes that force you to stand in place and spectate a story that rarely includes you or your character. On the other hand, the multiplayer has potential but is in need of more players and some balance tweaks. There are some incredible World War II games that are worth playing even today, but Above and Beyond falls short in far too many ways to be considered among them.

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The Good

  • WWII firearms are satisfying to use, from aiming down their sights to reloading
  • Excellent mini-documentaries tell the captivating stories of real WWII veterans
  • Fighting against other players in multiplayer deathmatches is enjoyable...

The Bad

  • ...but it lacks human players and needs balancing
  • Cutscenes are uninteresting and interrupt the flow, often leaving you standing around with your headset on and nothing to do
  • The story lacks weight and meaning in its WWII setting

About the Author

Mat played Above and Beyond's campaign for more than 10 hours and spent a couple of hours playing multiplayer at a digital press event and several more post-release. He wishes the documentaries were also available to watch outside of VR. Review code was provided by the publisher.
36 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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Bigbro365

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"Starting up a new VR game without knowing how your mind and body will react to its movement can be intimidating"

WWII vets now facepalming.

negative points doesn't justify the low score also, guess the intimidation should be part of it.

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ragethorn

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Happy this is an exclusive. I would've purchased it day 1 on PSVR. I'll save my money now.

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SsangyongKYRON

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Damn

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Bamda

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So glad I don't suffer from motion sickness. Otherwise I would have never enjoyed Half-Life: Alyx as much as I did.

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jagdedge124

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Mistake number one- VR.

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amichalski81

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@jagdedge124: exactly! why put this out on VR, same with Half Life, the amount of fans who have been waiting for a new half life game and they put out a VR game.

i don't have VR, don't have the money for a headset, plenty of friends who also don't have the money for VR headset. we're not getting one, i have more important things to worry about in this world we currently live in.

put the games out on the systems not VR

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mrbojangles25

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Why are screenshots provided by publisher, and not reviewer?

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Bigbro365

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@mrbojangles25: he was intimated!

"Starting up a new VR game without knowing how your mind and body will react to its movement can be intimidating"

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R4gn4r0k

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@mrbojangles25: He was too busy playing other/better games.

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mrbojangles25

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@R4gn4r0k: haha probably true.

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johnny0779

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Horrible graphics...the trailer reminded me of a ps3/xbox360 early graphics.

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R4gn4r0k

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@johnny0779: And yet requires an RTX2070 as minimum.

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rancid36

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We need something new...this rehashed crap needs to go.

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ReturnoftheBrotha

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This is that forgotten war title. Ah well, superior marketing and hype makes Call of Duty the top one, even though it is not my style.

5 • 
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HiroArka

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I still remember how much fun I had playing the first Medal of Honor on PSX. Being asked to show a guard my papers and spamming the button, only to have them scream "IT'S JIMMY PATERSON" :D Good Times.

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illegal_peanut

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Funny how the one VR game that I REALLY wanted to play. ends up being mediocre...

Whelp... I guess I'll give VR another 2 to 3 years to flesh itself out.

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SBan83

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@illegal_peanut: There's still Sniper Elite VR.

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Keaze_

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I have really fond memories of MOH allied assault, because of the D-Day part.

I mean it was very scripted and you had to take the exact path they wanted you to take (which they didn't specify) or you would get insta killed from a bunker turret, but I still remember enjoying myself a lot.

Surely just nostalgia. I`m sure if I played it now it would be terrible, but I think that goes for many games of our childhood.

I`d rather not try it again and just keep the vague positive memories

4 • 
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BeachBum

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@Keaze_: MoH AA and then CoD United Offensive have a very special place in my nostalgic heart. When Carentan got remade a couple CoDs ago I was giddy. I miss the days when everyone in mp games had bolt action rifles.

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R4gn4r0k

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@beachbum: lol I bought that COD WWII deluxe because it had Carantan from COD 1.

COD 1, UO and MOHAA were all fantastic experiences.

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BeachBum

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When the title of your game includes the words "above and beyond," I feel you should make sure the quality is better than they have delivered here.

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R4gn4r0k

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Edited By R4gn4r0k

@beachbum: No, they went above and beyond with the asking price, and stopped there.

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RogerioFM

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You know what I would love? Weird I know a remake hell even a remaster of the PS1 two games, Underground preferably.

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Gamerforlife96

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@RogerioFM: what i want is allied assult remake

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R4gn4r0k

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@gamerforlife96: Allied assault is a remake of the original PS1 classic basically. So many levels and elements are the same.

A reimagening if you will :)

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Rocky4OnDVD

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"Cutscenes are uninteresting and interrupt the flow, often leaving you standing around... and nothing to do"

This is exactly how I felt playing Last of Us 2. Even many of their non-cutscenes can feel like cutscenes when your movement is limited to walking and pressing X.

I was pretty excited for Medal of Honor's multiplayer, so hopefully more pick it up!

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cugabuh

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Dang...was thinking of picking this up over the holidays after I beat HL: Alyx. Looks like I'll pass on this then.

Hopefully we'll start getting some awesome experiences from someone other than Valve. :|

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uninspiredcup

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@cugabuh: Aside from Walking Dead

- Until You Fall

- Vertigo: Remastered

- Squadron

- Asgard's Wrath

For MP

- Onward

- Pavlov

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bearcatzz_basic

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@uninspiredcup@cugabuh: I can't recommend Vertigo Remastered enough. One of the best VR games available with a sequel in the works. Especially if you like Half Life

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matpaget

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matpaget  Staff

@cugabuh: I really like The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners! To kill a zombie, you really have to force a knife into their skull, and then you need to grab their head for leverage to get it out. Definitely check out some gameplay to see if it's your thing!

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cugabuh

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@matpaget: Good recommendation! I actually played through that one for review purposes. I agree - it was a lovely, skull-smashingly, fun time :D

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zacyzacy

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That's too bad I will definitely have to pass on it then.

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uninspiredcup

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:/

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Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond

First Released Dec 10, 2020
released
  • Oculus Quest
  • PC

5
Mediocre

Average Rating

4 Rating(s)

4.7
Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
Mature
Blood, Strong Language, Violence