Dividing the game right down the middle, there's also DICE's multiplayer component. Following on from the runaway success of Bad Company 2, Medal of Honor is the developer's first real take on a predominantly close-quarters multiplayer experience. Sadly, it shows.
Adapting DICE's venerable Frostbite engine, which specialises in destructable expanses of land, to the smaller confines of Medal of Honor has opened up a world of technical niggles. Single-player features such as leaning and sliding are gone but hardly noticed. More disturbing is the hit detection, which has been improved since the oft-maligned beta but ultimately it still feels a little broken. I also didn't much enjoy the instances where I found myself stuck in occasional clipping errors, with bullets hitting walls when very close to the edges of cover.
It's hard to visualise exactly how the online community will develop after just a couple of days spent playing on the retail servers, but even from such an early stage in the product's life cycle it's clear to see what angle the game is coming from. In attempting to bridge the gap between Call of Duty and Bad Company 2, Medal of Honor is trying to capture the best of both worlds.
As is now mandatory for any online FPS, Medal of Honor sets up its own system of experience and progression, mixing RPG-like grinding and levelling into familiar modes such as Team Assault (Team Deathmatch) and Sector Control (Domination), alongside the objective-based Combat Mission and the mini-Rush intensity of Objective Raid; everything but Combat Mission can also be played on a punishing Hardcore playlist. Potential armaments are split across both factions (Rangers and OPFOR) and then divided by the three classes on offer; Rifleman is your all-rounder, Special Ops carries a rocket launcher and Sniper snipes.
Positive actions on the battlefield - killing an enemy, capturing a point, getting a sweet headshot and so on - are rewarded by points, which move you up the ranks and unlock new weapons and accessories, such as the red dot sight or another ammo magazine, to lump in a gun's rail, barrel and base slots. It'll take exactly 31,700 XP to follow these golden breadcrumbs along the 15-level journey from Recruit to Tier 1 Warfighter - and since you receive a scant 10 points for each basic kill, you can expect maxing out all three classes to take quite a bit of your time.
Whether or not you'll bother to invest that time is another question entirely. You'll probably spend most of it in Team Assault, which is already being played by twice the players of any other mode. A scant five maps are on offer here, with another three reserved solely for use in Combat Mission.
There are inconsistencies in the maps across different modes. Kabul City Ruins, for instance, encourages you to scamper around the scenery to gain tactical advantages over the enemy team - bits where you jump up on top of crates and peek through little holes remind me of the exalted de_dust2, for instance. Take that same desire to explore and tinker over to Shahikot Mountains, however, and you're left hitting your head on invisible boundaries.