The last time we left off, Medal of Honor: Frontline took a commanding lead over Call of Duty. Now we delve into the two franchise’s console follow ups.
In this third part of Battle of the Brands we will be diving further into each respective franchise’s subsequent release on the PlayStation 2 Focusing part three on:
Medal of Honor: Rising Sun Vs. Call of Duty 2: Big Red One
Medal of Honor: Rising Sun
The Medal of Honor series loves their dramatic introductions. Frontline saw us literally on the front lines of Omaha beach during the Normandy Landings. Rising Sun delivers another stunning introduction as you start the game as US Marine Corporal Joseph Griffin awakening aboard the USS California to the explosions of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor the morning of December 7th 1941.
The opening sequence is stunning, tragic and expansive. They convey the destruction, shock, confusion and bravery of the soldiers throughout the attack. It’s a promising start to the game but it doesn’t take long after the opening chapters to realize the game struggles to maintain the energy and excitement of the first campaign.
The story begins on the Day of Infamy in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and continues island hopping through to the fall of the Philippines, Singapore, Burma, Thailand and the South Chinese Sea.
The locations are exotic and new for a WWII game at the time and MoH delivers well. It is easy to get lost in the jungles of the Philippines. You get to travel the streets of Singapore and the fighting continues through a gigantic Buddhist temple in rural, Burma.
But, unfortunately that’s where the pros of Rising Sun end. The game feels disjointed and monotonous. Too often will you draw a bead for a perfect head shot to have the bullet miss. This happens maddeningly all throughout the game. Even when you do land a headshot it doesn’t guarantee that your enemy will die – which if done right could make for an interesting angle to the intense, close combat white-knuckled warfare seen in the pacific theater but it’s almost always the same three animations wherever you shoot an enemy soldier. If you’re lucky enough to hit them in the first place.
One animation and enemy tactic that is an improvement from its predecessor is the inclusion of the Japanese Banzai Charge which can be surprising and ruthless. But with accuracy at an all time low and no real way to melee defend yourself without taking substantial damage you’ll find a considerable amount of time running backwards trying to hit your charging enemy.
One feature of RS that is enjoyable is the historical background of each level you are playing. Also there are, “film cans” hidden throughout the levels for more historical footage and background of the locales you are fighting in. On top of that, with each chapter you get another, “Letter From Home” from your sister, Mary updating you on your family and the news from the States. It’s a nice personal touch but it isn’t enough to wrangle in the storyline.
The story only seems to grow larger as the game’s playability decreases and grows stale. EA really fumbled an opportunity to have a strong follow up to the masterpiece, Frontline.
Call of Duty 2: Big Red One
The only version of Call of Duty 2 to land on the PlayStation 2 was the expansion, Big Red One which departs from the original CoD campaign formula, at the time. Instead of the perspective of several different allied forces and separate soldiers, Big Red One has you control one player throughout the game, developing relationships with other NPCs in your squad, the revered, “Fighting First” of the 1st Infantry Divison of the United States Army.
Sgt. Roland Roger of the 1st Infantry United States Army
The 1st Infantry Division of the United States Army is the oldest serving division in the regular Army and has continuously saw battle since it’s establishment in WWI.
I could, should and probably will do an article solely on the real 1st Infantry Division due to their presence in almost every major battle of over the course of the 20th and 21st century but for now we focus on the small group of young men you fight alongside in CoD: BRO.
After a short prologue, the game begins in Northern Africa. Following the real route the Big Red One took, the first battle is located in Algeria at the Battle of Oran. The gameplay and graphics are sharp and smooth. The controls are faster than the original CoD on console. The game is tight and very well done.
The jump from CoD: Finest Hour to CoD 2: Big Red One is subtle and staggering at the same time. It’s hard to place a finger on what it is exactly but the game plays familiar in a good way but almost everything feels better. It’s just a better Call of Duty experience. Which is what one should expect from a sequel. Something EA squandered with Rising Sun.
BRO was released after the the HBO T.V. Mini Series , Band of Brothers had already captivated audiences and many of the main characters in Big Red One are actors from Band of Brothers and it paid off.
The voice acting is authentic. Labored, panicked, angered or scared – depending on the situation the voice acting and this story is far superior to Medal of Honor’s attempt at an engaging storyline. In fact, no games at the time (that I’m privy to, at least) were taking this somber, melancholy tone of war. Letting you bond with soldiers you served with. Building a bit of banter and rapport. It could have been taken even farther but for the time this was well executed and rarely seen.
Ultimately, just like Medal of Honor: Frontlines in the round before it, Call of Duty: Big Red One falls into, “must play” territory and is by far the superior game compared to Medal of Honor: Rising Sun’s rushed, hollow and incomplete vision.
Medal of Honor: Rising Sun (2003)
Call of Duty 2: Big Red One (2005)
Officially tying the Battle of the Brands at 1-1
Next round we will see:
Call of Duty 3
Medal of Honor: European Assault
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