A more serious review. Sorry, no balls jokes here.
2007 was not a good year to be Medal of Honor. Not only was this right after the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, but this was also the time we loathed and despised World War II shooters. Not to mentioned the more recent games in the Medal of Honor series (Rising Sun and European Assault) were "meh at best" console games.
As a result, Medal of Honor: Airborne was critically overlooked and dismissed as "another damn World War II shooter." Since Medal of Honor essentially kick started the WWII FPS genre back in 2001, it's worth a look, particularly if you're like me and just love playing games based on the Last Great War.
None of this "Modern Warfare: Afghanistan" crap that the new "Medal of Honor" (i use the name lightly) brings forward.
The question is: is it still worth shooting Nazi's?
The plot is stock WWII material, if I said anything other than "you're fighting Nazi's somewhere in Europe" then it would be unique. The hook of Airborne is that you're, well, part of the Airborne division (which is a fancy way of saying "elite paratrooper"), and of course this comes into effect. You start each of the six missions jumping out of an airplane, and parachuting to wherever you please. It's an interesting idea, but not a deep one, since you only have two real landing zones: "Safe Zones" (marked by green smoke flares) and "Dead Zones" (pretty much everywhere else). Kicking a Nazi in the back of the head before landing is oddly satisfying though.
The actual gameplay is pretty stock as well, but it works. You can't move and shoot while ADS (aiming down sights), unless you hold another button, but you have a great lean feature while aiming. You have the ability to sprint from a crouched position and go back to crouching when you're done running; a great cover-to-cover tactic.
Weapons are standard WWII material, but the more kills you get with them, you can gain upgrades for them, which could mean more ammo, more damage, or less recoil. And man, that recoil is beastly.
The levels themselves are somewhat open ended, in which you can do the objectives in any order you please, with one or two
The presentation is top notch, as it always has been in the series. Visually the environments look appropriately ruined (except for the crap Unreal Engine which takes A DAY to load textures), and the soldiers look detailed. The AI is a little dim (I’ve seen Nazi's often run right by me), but they can still hold their own.
Some scenes are simply spectacular. One in particular on the final mission has you witnessing your plane literally getting torn apart by AA fire before jumping. Another ends with a climactic battle in Nazi occupied ruins. The "meat" of the game only truly shows itself in the last few missions, but man, it's worth it to get that far.
The soundtrack is absolutely stellar. It reminded me a lot of Turning Point of all things (and NO, that's not a bad thing; amazingly), because I think it's the same composer. Several of the tracks are even revamped versions of tracks from Allied Assault. It's just awesome remembering the older, pre-COD days while hearing those tracks.
There is an online component, which has team deathmatch and a capture the objective mode, but it's hardly worth mentioning since nobody plays online anymore. There is support for up to 18 players, but i've never seen more than 6 tops. The online itself isn't bad, but pretty much everyone you find is either a noob or someone who just camps with the anti-tank rifle.
All and all, Medal of Honor has always been a terrific series that both provides a cinematic gaming experience and a fitting tribute to those that fought in the second world war, and Airborne is no exception. Sure, the game is a little on the short side, and there's hardly no innovation in the gameplay, but if you just feel like shooting some more Nazi's, it's at least worth enlisting in the Airborne division for a weekend.
It's just too bad that the series' more recent identity crisis means this may be the last time we put our boot up Hitler's boy’s asses.