Saturday, October 9, 2010

New Medal of Honor game creates controversy

Jimmy Patterson will always be my hero.

Patterson once stole a top secret Nazi airplane, infiltrated the impenetrable Fort Schmerzen, destroyed the mighty railgun Greta, destroyed a V-2 rocket plant and stormed the beaches of Normandy. Patterson single-handedly won World War II. Why is it that you have never heard of him? It's because Patterson is a character in Medal of Honor and Medal of Honor: Frontline.

Do not mess with Lt. Jimmy Patterson.

The Medal of Honor series has always been a favorite of mine. Back when I was a kid I never had N64. So, instead of GoldenEye, all I had to play was Medal of Honor for my first-person-shooter fix. This was fine by me.

Medal of Honor was a favorite of mine growing up. I remember the first time my brother and I played it. It was intimidating, the idea of being surrounded by Nazis. I was already an Indiana Jones fan at this time so I knew how evil Nazis could be. Although WW2 video games are dime-a-dozen now, the original Medal of Honor was revolutionary. Shooters were still played only on computers and the move to consoles was still in it's beginning stages. Medal of Honor helped cement the idea of console shooters and allowing you to go against Nazi added a level of engagement. Who doesn't love to hate Nazis?

A new Medal of Honor game is coming out on Oct. 12. This game, however, is the first to leave the 1940s setting. Instead it's set in modern day with more contemporary enemies. In a deliberate move to copy the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare games, Medal of Honor has left World War II. Medal of Honor, however, may lose its identity as it moves further away from its roots.

Guy looks homeless.

Call of Duty was originally a WW2 series. In this distinction it could be said that Call of Duty owes a debt to Medal of Honor. As consumers began to tire of shooting the SS in the face, Call of Duty moved it's setting to modern times. This idea and the creation of Modern Warfare would prove to be a success.

Shooters don't spend a lot of time in contemporary settings. A lot can be found in World War II or space, but the current atmosphere has always seemed off limits. Then came the release of Modern Warfare, and any body that has ever picked up a game controller can tell you how successful the title is. Modern Warfare was smart not to use actual terrorist organizations though. Medal of Honor did not have this foresight.

The original plan for the new Medal of Honor was to play as the Taliban in multiplayer matches. While team names in multiplayer have never amounted to more than "I'm blue team, shoot red team," this addition would obviously get some people upset. Modern Warfare was smart enough to know that a video game involving real, current examples would cause controversy. That's why they went to the trouble of creating a fictional enemy.

Modern Warfare did meet controversy with their last game, which involved a soldier shooting innocent bystanders in an airport. This scene, while creating controversy, also met with praise for its bravery. This is an example of good controversy that creates a debate. Medal of Honor, in it's ballsy move to set it's shooter in Afghanistan, has created negative controversy. The kind that gets it outright banned.

The Medal of Honor series use to have class. Now the series is just trying too hard against today's market. Don't use the Medal of Honor name if you want to make the antithesis of the series. Whether it makes for a good game or not isn't relevant. Even if the gameplay proves to excellent, the game is still a hollow, shallow shell of the brand.

In the end I guess I'm just selfish. I miss heroes like Jimmy Patterson.

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