Whatever Happened To... Medal of Honor?
Has there ever been a point when you’ve looked through your gaming library and wondered, “Huh, whatever happened to this title?” Well, I’ll be taking a look at videogame standalones/franchises and the lead up to their eventual absence. With that being said, today I’ll be asking the question: “Whatever Happened to… Medal of Honor?”
Well, I already know what the response to this one is going to be; “Are you kidding me? Medal of Honor: Warfighter is what happened! Everyone knows that.” Yes, while it is true that the newest (and perhaps last) entry into the Medal of Honor franchise didn’t pan out the way the developers would have hoped, I don’t believe it was the sole reason for why the series ended. Instead, I feel it was attributed to ‘trying too hard to catch up’, if you know my meaning.
Long story short, when one looks into Medal of Honor’s library of games, they can see it’s always been a series that’s managed to combine entertainment with gritty realism. And trying to keep that mentality while pushing for a more ‘current warfare’ style was, quite simply, not done at the right time. The attempt to emulate the success of what Battlefield and Call of Duty had done felt as though Medal of Honor was chasing after something that they couldn’t hope to compete with in the long run.
Not that the talent wasn’t there, far from it, but (as mentioned above) the mentality for the games had changed quite a bit in the switch to the present day. In older titles like Medal of Honor: Frontline and Medal of Honor: Rising Sun, there was this well thought out structure of how the games would progress and how the story would be presented to the player. Whereas, in the newer releases, the feeling of progression and structure would seemingly be replaced by the strategy of “well this worked for other games, so it’ll work for us.”
Which, when making a game, isn’t really the thought process that should be going down. Just because other shooters have the same style of gameplay and storytelling, doesn’t mean you should assume that’s the formula for success. Especially when a franchise like Medal of Honor makes the changes it did with its newer titles. Changes like taking out some of the storytelling aspects for more set-pieces, putting in extended linear gameplay instead having more open-ended areas, and putting an over-emphasis on graphical capability. These are all things that ended up hurting the series significantly more than it did helping it.
So, with the combination of ‘lack of direction’ and ‘done before but done better’, it’s no secret that the latest installments of this series really haven’t measured up the way fans would’ve liked. Well, to be fair, I do kind of tell a lie. The release of the first ‘present day’ title in 2010 was actually met with a fairly positive response. Reviewers noted that the multiplayer and character performances were quite engaging. At the same time, though, they also mentioned that there were a few glaring similarities to Call of Duty (as we’ve talked about in this piece.)
I suppose, when all is said and done, it can be linked to 2012’s Medal of Honor: Warfighter as the game that finally brought down the sinking ship down. Again, though, I feel it wasn’t the game itself as much as it was the headspace of the developers going into it. The focus put on kickstarting a new collection of games, the attempt to bring across the same level of storytelling as the World War II titles, and, the inevitable last nail in coffin, trying to hard to play catch up. It all forms to make a recipe for disappointment which is, unfortunately, what happened to Medal of Honor.