Medal of Honor: The Taliban game

Another ruddy game critique corner.

Medal of Honor is a game in which you shoot things and unlock weapons in order to shoot things. Shooting things is as easy as any other game in which you shoot games, except there’s these guys that were the Taliban although now they’re not. They’re just guys who look, sound and act like the Taliban. Quack quack, if it sounds like a duck it’s a fucking duck. Medal of Honor will go down in history not as an authentic war experience, which it isn’t, nor will it go down in history for delivering a gut-wrenching tale, which it doesn’t, it will instead be always known (forever) as ‘The Taliban game.’

Never-mind EA being complete cowards and chickening out of a strong game decision, to please idiots worldwide. Never-mind the absolute disrespect it is to military people worldwide. Never-mind all of that, Medal of Honor is one of the most distressing games of all times. Not because of the content or the story or anything to do with the game, it’s the decision that EA took.

It will now be forever known as ‘The Taliban game’, EA clearly have said that the game isn’t worthy of delivering an authentic experience or at least one with the actual names of who you’re running and gunning. I played the multiplayer thoroughly and I didn’t catch a reward for flag burning or extremist taunting. All you can do as the Taliban in the game is shoot Americans. All you can do as Americans is shoot brain-washed Afghans.

What does it say about the modern age when a large games corporation dis-respects servicemen everywhere with a rash decision? That little name of ‘Taliban’ can’t be easily applied to the ‘Cops and Robbers’ mentality but it certainly does not harm or depress anyone who plays it. If you feel uncomfortable playing as them, that’s your own person grievance and I’m pretty sure you respect the decision of EA to keep the name included. I’m sure people like you aren’t out to rid the world of playing as the ‘T’ name, since it’s certainly something interesting.

Medal of Honor‘s decision to stick by the Taliban name would’ve kept it completely in line with its vision, or at least closer to it. Instead the game has pulled a Call of Duty and cemented its potential to ever show people who don’t understand games that we understand games. It is not respect to servicemen to say that people who look like the Taliban are the enemy. I’ve always wondered if this was an early design choice or it was overseen by EA to drum up the controversy necessary to sell. The latter way means that EA is a company that doesn’t care about anyone, even the people fighting for its freedom of speech.

I’ve played the game over this weekend and if one thing has become apparent is that I’m sick of war-games. No wait, I’m sick of shooting in war-games. War does not always mean firing bullets into a foreigner’s face or stabbing their neck twenty times. It is all about survival and dis-empowerment; which is the direct opposite to which is shown in games. Perhaps designers don’t see it as being fun, and they’re not interested in creating something compelling, merely something cinematic. Yes, I’m looking at you Modern Warfare 2.

Given that Modern Warfare 2 is probably the best paced first-person shooter I’ve ever played, not necessarily the best or the most compelling (I hope the industry doesn’t go singularly down this route) it stands as a game I want to survive. It managed to out Michael Bay… Michael BayMedal of Honor does none of the pacing business and instead focuses on giant bounds of concentrated intensity punctuated with boring drawn out firefights with the same five Taliban guys.

It is by no means a bad game, just a very boring one. It’s so safe and formulaic in its approach to the shooter genre that it ends up leaving a bad aftertaste in my mouth. I know I’m supposed to be enjoying myself but the subject matter and the design tastes behind it are telling me I shouldn’t be. I should be putting myself in another person’s shoes and I can’t exactly do that given how five minutes the game bloodily rips off the original Modern Warfare. Can anyone make anything original in the shooter genre? Does it always have to involve war or factions and ALWAYS empowerment. I think we’ve seen the horror genre face this dis-empowering cleansing (Amnesia: The Dark Descent) and we’ve seen attempts at it in shooters (Mirror’s Edge) but I would really like to see a war game that doesn’t involve shooting.

In fact, here’s something I want you to comment on. What sort of war game do you want besides shooting people in the face? Am I the only one who thinks it would be interesting to play as a Jewish woman trying to escape the Nazis, running through fields and hiding in irrigation ditches. Am I the only one who thinks it would be great if we could play as the Nazis, thinking we’re shooting giant monsters, only to realize in the end we were brainwashed all along? The power of interactivity combined with the subject matter of war is a dangerous concoction that dares to be explored, and for EA to chicken out of the most basic of potions, is to completely rid us of any credibility to even start to create these experiences.

Unfortunately, Medal of Honor sticks to what it knows and doesn’t dare tightrope what it holds so dearly to its chest. A shame really, I really ruddy loved Allied Assault back when I was a lad. There’s nothing really interesting in the game, there’s just something about the game that makes it so punctual in the history of gaming. The SCOTUS court case is less than three weeks away and we just made ourselves a Taliban game.

I think that it’s ironic that the very thing that we are fighting is actually stopping us from freedom of speech.

The terrorists win.

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