EA's Medal of Honor series may have lost its goldenboy lustre in recent releases, but it continues to battle it out on the WWII FPS frontline. From what we've seen so far, forthcoming sequel Airborne could be the follow-up to provide some much-needed buff to the franchise.
In Airborne's attempt to break the traditional WWII FPS mould, one of its key innovations is a more open style of play through the likes of the 'parachute jump' element and battlefields in which "the entire space is playable", according to Patrick Gilmore, executive vice president and vice president of EA Los Angeles Studio. Hopefully, Airborne will spearhead the increasingly stale genre's advance into new gameplay territory.
Speaking to CVG, Gilmore has revealed that EA is aiming for "as seamless an experience as possible" with Airborne, promising that the key parachute jump feature "will change how you think about a WWII game... 'Start anywhere' is something no one has approached. We are moving away from a linear, rail-ride style of game to something much more dynamic and emotionally accurate."
According to Gilmore, "Most shooters are fairly linear, and because of this there is a shooting-gallery like artifice and 'safety' associated with the knowledge that there's really only one way to go at any time. In Medal of Honor Airborne, that sense of security is immediately erased the moment you jump from a C47. The fact that you can land anywhere and essentially choose your own start point removes that feeling of security and installs in its place a kind of anxious sensitivity to tactics and enemy position and affordance."
It's a promising start to the Medal of Honor series' reinvigoration and all signs are looking good for Airborne. Read on to find out more from Gilmore as EA tries to recapture key territory in one of the busiest genre battlefields in the videogame market.
There's a mass of material you could draw on for a World War II title. What prompted you to focus on the 82nd Airborne Division for the next Medal of Honor game?
Patrick Gilmore: We worked hard to develop a unifying concept that could be a common theme through all the missions. The goal was to give the gameplay a more specific character to identify with. The idea of jumping out of a plane into each of the operations ignited enormous excitement among the team members, and spawned a unique set of innovations. We specifically chose the 82nd because it has the most lasting legacy, and is currently the largest parachute force in the free world.
The U.S. was the last country to field an airborne force, and enormous mistakes were made in some of the initial deployments. Except for the bravery and determination of the men involved, the whole concept of an American Airborne could have been a disaster. As it turned out, the men of the 82nd helped begin a lineage which survives and defines heroism to this day. It's the ultimate underdog story that's totally the stuff of Medal of Honor.
How important is it to you to accurately recreate the experiences of the men of the 82nd Airborne Division and the campaigns they were involved in, and do you consider it part of your remit to teach history?
Patrick Gilmore: Very important. Luckily for us, the exploits of the Airborne forces don't require much embellishment and allow us to make a fun game while being true to history.
Kind of a two-part question this one: What key areas are you focusing on to make MoH more immersive this time around, and what methods are you employing to capture the 'feel' of being a member of the 82nd Airborne Division in combat?