Most first-person shooters, and especially World War II games, follow a linear level design. Follow this route to that location, take out those enemies, complete the objective here, rinse and repeat. But Medal of Honor: Airborne gives this formula a face-lift by creatively building the game around some of the U.S. Army airborne divisions’ most intense operations during the war, such as Market Garden and D-Day’s Operation Neptune.
Each mission begins when you fly to the operation area and parachute out of a C-47. On your way down, you can get the lay of the land and choose where you want to touch down. The landing zone you choose will impact the course of the operation. Once on the ground, you can tackle objectives in the order of your choosing. This free-roaming, nonlinear gameplay mechanic makes for a much more realistic and authentic experience. Soldiers didn’t always have the option of following predetermined routes to complete a nicely organized list of objectives.
While the Medal of Honor series utilized this same gimmick in its last game, Vanguard (released earlier this year), Airborne’s battlefield is much more open and interactive. But that isn’t the only difference. Airborne is the series’ debut on next-generation consoles like the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and its visuals are absolutely breathtaking. You can see distinct pieces of gear clinging to every squad mate and enemy as flying debris litters the ground around you.
In addition to advanced free-roaming gameplay and enhanced, next-gen graphics, Airborne also incorporates a unique weapon upgrade mechanic whereby, if you gain enough battlefield experience, you will be able to customize your weapon. For example, if you start off with a Thompson submachine gun and gain experience, you can fix it up with authentic field modifications that include such things as a barrel stabilizer, pistol grips, higher capacity ammo clips, a riflescope, and more. Each modification gives your weapon a boost in accuracy or stopping power.
With these new and unique features, the Medal of Honor series is gradually separating itself from the throng of monotonously similar World War II first-person shooter series on the market.
Originally published in the December 2007 issue of World War II Magazine. To subscribe, click here.