Home > Call of Duty: Black Ops, Medal of Honor, Review > Review (Single-Player): “Tier 1 vs. Black Ops” or “Shooters and Other Disappointments”

Review (Single-Player): “Tier 1 vs. Black Ops” or “Shooters and Other Disappointments”

I finished both Medal of Honor and Call of Duty: Black Ops recently. It didn’t take long for me to accomplish both goals, since each game is only about 5-7 hours. MoH is probably a bit shorter than Call of Duty.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy both games. I did, and they had their own strengths and weaknesses, but throughout Medal of Honor I couldn’t keep this one nagging thought at the back of my mind: “This is a very subtle Modern Warfare ripoff.”

Tier 1

Medal of Honor has some very cool, action-packed moments. I particularly liked the siege when the team is in a house next to a mountain with droves of Taliban pouring in from all sides and no hope for help or rescue. That was an intense setting. I normally play FPS games on the “Nightmare” setting, so that mission turned out to be especially brutal. But what stood out for me was the level of intensity the developers were able to capture and the grit soldiers in the field must exhibit to get through a day.

That being said, the adrenaline that mission brought about was more of an exception than the norm. There were AI pathing issues, and the AI, in some cases, was simply too dumb to spot me walking around their camp in plain sight. The scripted events were structured in a way that hindered the realism when you did anything outside of what you were supposed to do.

For example, in one Taliban camp, I saw an enemy unit with his back to me, naturally I sneaked up and stabbed him in the back. He stood there, unblinking, still oblivious to my presence, still alive. I tried again, once again my knife went into his back, there was a ripping noise, and yet the unit stood there, his back to me, enjoying the scenery. It was then that I realized that my AI partner had been talking to me the whole time about silently taking out the guy himself. He then walked up to the enemy, grabbed him from behind, startling the previously oblivious bastard, and finished him off. That was a huge turn-off. Scripted events are cool, but at no point should they be so unpolished that they break basic game mechanics, such as you stabbing a seemingly invulnerable-and-downright-indifferent-to-your-presence enemy unit.

There were other issues. One of the things I have enjoyed about the Modern Warfare series is the ability to see the battle play out from multiple viewpoints, without getting lost in the narrative. While Medal of Honor also tries the same novel idea (I wonder where they got it from!), very often I was a little confused as to which character in the story am I controlling now. Rabbit, Hawk, Deuce, Dante, or someone altogether new, mostly I just fired my gun and moved on.

Between the rescues, the rescuing of the rescuers, and the survival missions, I often found myself a little lost with the narrative (not in the narrative, but with the narrative). I wasn’t sure what the story was, except one long series of disjointed missions to destroy the Taliban, and by the end of it, we didn’t really get anywhere at all. Perhaps that was because much like the war, no mission in the campaign clearly identified the goal of the whole affair.

I’d give it a 6 out of 10, mostly because the concept was cool, and the idea was somewhat innovative, but in the execution they xeroxed too many pages from the Modern Warfare doctrine, and ended up with a half-baked game filled with glitches and other disappointments.

Black Ops

The Call of Duty franchise released its seventh game shortly after Medal of Honor and to resounding success. Let us briefly compare the two in terms of chronological releases:

Call of Duty

  • Call of Duty
  • Call of Duty 2
  • Call of Duty 3
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
  • Call of Duty: World at War
  • Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops

Medal of Honor

  • PC releases
    Medal of Honor: Allied Assault
    Medal of Honor: Allied Assault – Spearhead
    Medal of Honor: Allied Assault – Breakthrough
    Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault)
    Medal of Honor: Airborne
    Medal of Honor
  • Console releases
    Medal of Honor
    Medal of Honor: Underground
    Medal of Honor: Frontline
    Medal of Honor: Rising Sun
    Medal of Honor: European Assault
    Medal of Honor: Vanguard
    Medal of Honor: Airborne
    Medal of Honor: Heroes 2
    Medal of Honor
  • Portable releases
    Medal of Honor: Underground
    Medal of Honor: Infiltrator
    Medal of Honor: Heroes
    Medal of Honor: Heroes 2

Notice anything? Call of Duty took three games for the developers to realize that they needed to breathe some fresh air into the franchise, and thus came about Modern Warfare, one of the most innovative and novel tactical shooters in recent memory.

Look at how many games it took for Medal of Honor.

Beyond that, the latest installment of the Call of Duty franchise reinvents itself yet again, dumping you smack-dab in the middle of the cold war, the Vietnam crisis and an international conspiracy spanning multiple continents. The story was shockingly solid, with a twist at the end that I didn’t see coming, and I am normally very good about that sort of thing.

On top of all that, it is a solid shooter, one that doesn’t just focus on what might be cool to play or see in the game, but genuinely focuses on what will be fun. From an assassination attempt on Fidel Castro to surviving a brutal gulag, from blowing up a soviet rocket to fighting in the trenches of Vietnam, and from flying a B2-Bomber to hunting down psychos in secret hideouts, this game had it all, and it brought it all together in style.

This isn’t to say the game didn’t have any issues. There were a few graphical glitches, and the game wasn’t balanced in terms of difficulty. You either blew through anything in your path, or you got your ass handed to you, forcing you to reload and play that sequence again and again. (Yes, I played on the toughest difficulty setting again). There was simply no middle ground.

The voice acting, while otherwise top-notch, sucked because of goddamn Sam Worthington. You may have seen him as the titular hero in Avatar and the first humanoid machine in Terminator 4: Rise of the Machines. He’s Australian you see. And regardless of which role he undertakes, he cannot, for the life of him, mask his Australian undertone. That kind of ruined it for me, but I suppose you can’t have it all.

I’d give Black Ops a resounding 9 out of 10. It is a brilliant game, with an original story, and intense action. Well worth your money if you are a shooter fan.

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  1. Milamber
    November 17, 2010 at 8:29 am

    Oh hey, way to tell me you were blogging again. Your connection improve at all? Multiplayer for BLOPS is fun. After 5 days, I’m finally getting a KDR over 1. Once I bought myself some steady aim and flashbang and a decent rifle, things starting going in my favor.

    Also since I don’t feel like splitting my responses up, I’m not really excited for Cataclysm. Maybe it’s because of college and other games, but I could take it or leave it.

  2. RWBanes
    December 23, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    Recently completed both of these games back-to-back*. In addition to completing all achievements allowable under Single Player mode.

    Generally speaking, I preferred the gameplay/weapons of
    MOH; though, I wouldn’t advise purchasing the game as the campaign is far too short and relatively easy.

    With Black Ops, I could appreciate the concept; however, it was a bit too ‘over-produced’ for my taste. The length of the campaign was decent as was the difficulty; though, I never suffered moments of frustration/excitement fellow gamers have experienced in previous COD missions(read: One Shot One Kill/ SpecOps: Snatch & Grab). I’d suggest renting this one as well or purchasing it used.

    As an aside: I’m analytical by nature and enjoy finding repeatable solutions to difficult game segments. Neither of the afore-mentioned titles offered much in the way of ‘tickling’ this fancy; thus, the mediocre review(s).

    *Played on hard/veteran difficulty

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