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Friday, June 25, 2010

MoH Beta Review, Part 1: Graphic and Sound Design

I wanted to make this blog about game news, reviews and critical interpretations (for #3, see the Portal blog), but no actual reviews have gone up. Tonight I rectify that in the first of what I think will be a three part series reviewing the Medal of Honor Beta. Tonight is the graphics and sound design, tomorrow is the weapon and map design, with day three covering actual gameplay and whatever bugs need ironing out. The fourth day, while not actually a review, will go over what I hope to see in the actual release in early October. So let's jump in, shall we?

Graphically speaking, this game is amazing. The computer I play on, and the one I write this blog on, has a much older graphics card, an NVidia 8600 GT. It stinks, I know. Regardless, even though I put almost everything on Low settings, the game looks wonderful. Granted, there's popup and the occasional see through then not see through walls, but overall it works. I think it's also a testament to the game that the low settings have the ability to blow my mind.

Specifically, I think the use of the small color pallet is really well done. Since Afghanistan is mostly a haze of greys, browns and other desert colors, that DICE managed to craft a game not only visually stimulating but that gives the ability to see enemies at almost any distance give credence to the subtle touches in the environments that separate them from the drab "there's more brown over there" graphics of other games. In the Kabul City Ruins map in particular, there is a huge range of colors concentrated in a very small area: namely, a silly looking TV. Breaking it is so very satisfying and almost always guarantees me a better game. The Helmand Valley map, on the other hand, is almost completely a set of five different brown shades scattered and mixed to create a desert environment. Even the tanks and trees and water is brown, if you can believe it. Again, it speaks to the skill with which DICE crafted the game that not only is the map entirely pleasing to look at, but it too allows you to see enemies from a great distance, if only as silhouettes.

The character design too is well done. Each class is immediately distinguishable from the others based on  very basic differences, from the headgear worn to what kind of turban the class wears. The developers did their homework on this one, since I can honestly see these Taliban soldiers doing battle with the Coalition in the very cities and valleys where the game takes place.

I won't say a lot about DICE's sound design, because there isn't much to say beyond: it's second to none. Battlefield Bad Company 2 took sound to a new level with bullets falling on snow, buildings collapsing and tanks sounding different from within and without to the sound of a 40mm grenade or a sniper bullet landing next to you. MoH does BC2 one better and, while I've never fired an M16 or an AK-47, I think this is as close as I'll ever get to actually shooting and hearing one. I hear the rattle of the bullets in the magazine of the LMG's and the wing whistle pass the knife when I miss with it. I even hear the sound of the chamber opening and closing on the bolt-action sniper rifles. DICE makes a point of putting the absolute best sounds in their games, and Medal of Honor is no exception.

Thanks for reading,

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