The Medal of Honor franchise is to release a new iteration of its popular WWII shooter game via EA. The original game was released way back in 1999 as a thematic tie-in to Spielberg’s Oscar winning epic, Saving Private Ryan.
Spielberg provided the storyline, and his company Dreamworks Interactive were tasked with developing a game that would be an exciting, first-person shooter, and educational in regard to historical accuracy.
The new release returns to the original premise and even employs the talents of some of the developers responsible for earlier versions of the game.
But don’t be fooled, things have moved on and the people responsible for the titles Titanfall and Apex Legends also now sit under EA’s vast umbrella.
This version will be the fifteenth in a mixed series of WWII and present-day settings. Generally well received with a loyal body of fans it has only had a couple of serious misfires in its history. Titled Above and Beyond, this version is all-new and employs a very fluid, interactive Virtual Reality form of gameplay.
This aspect has taken some reviewers by surprise, but since the success of the Star Wars: Battlefront II X-Wing Mission it was surely only a matter of time before EA embraced the technology on future games.
Above and Beyond drops you into the boots of a US soldier reporting to the Office of Strategic Services. You are faced with a wide variety of secret undercover missions, supporting the French resistance and undermining the German occupation.
The adventure will take you through many settings, towns, villages, chateaus, mountain strongholds and heavily defended Nazi airbases.
The VR is only available on Oculus Rift headsets for PC, which means that interactivity levels are at the cutting edge and make full use of the Oculus controllers, enabling gamers to catch grenades in mid-air, climb and swim.
The new headsets, launched at the Oculus Six conference are said to be able to perform hand-tracking without any requirement for additional hardware, but it is unclear whether this will apply to Respawn’s new Medal of Honor game.
While Medal of Honor has been developed as a single-player narrative and educational game there are whispers of as yet unconfirmed plans to include what EA have termed ‘unique multiplayer modes and features.’ Fans will have to wait and see as the new game, Above and Beyond, is not due for release until the Summer of 2020.
There have been fourteen releases since 1999, the first were playable on Game Boy and Playstation units with titles including Allied Assault, Frontline and Rising Sun. Medal of Honor: Vanguard was the first to be released for Wii in 2007.
Success built on success until the release of Warfighter in October 2012. Scathing reviews and poor sales prompted EA to take the Medal of Honor franchise ‘out of rotation’ in January of the following year.
Industry figures put the sales of the franchise up to 2016 at something over thirty-nine million copies. It still features in top twenty lists of first-person shooter (FPS) games and has been praised for setting the original standards for authenticity.
The creators of the war game Call of Duty have been reported as saying that without Medal of Honor, their own vision may never had had the boost it needed.
The new game has been well received and the graphics have been described as cinematic and stunning by reviewers who have had an early look.
There has been some criticism, mainly due to the tie-in between EA and Facebook, but then without Zuckerberg’s $3.5Billion USD acquisition of Oculus in 2014 the argument goes, then gaming, at this level, may not have been possible for years to come.
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In the meantime, while you wait for the release of Above and Beyond, now might be the time to revisit Medal of Honor: Frontline, repeatedly voted the best of franchise, garnering praise for its story, music and attention to detail. Have fun player one.