Video Game / Medal of Honor

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Medal of Honor is a series of First Person Shooters primarily set in World War II, and is probably the seminal title of this particular genre. Named after the United States' highest military decoration. MoH is known for a deep level of immersion, achieved by subjecting its design staff to actual military training, akin to the experiences of its inspiration, Saving Private Ryan. Steven Spielberg served as director and producer of the first title.

In 2010, following the runaway success of the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare series, the Medal of Honor series was rebooted and brought into a modern-day setting, with gameplay re-tooled to be closer to the style of Modern Warfare. The new Medal Of Honor 2010 games distinguish themselves from the new Call of Duty games (as well as the newer Battlefield games) in that the plot and atmosphere are intended to be much more "true to life", focusing on the Invasion of Afghanistan and later the War on Terror, without Hollywood embellishments such as runaway nukes or rogue Russian special forces divisions with genocidal ambitions.

Games in the original series

  • Medal of Honor (1999)
  • Medal of Honor: Underground
  • Medal of Honor: Allied Assault (add-ons Spearhead and Breakthrough)
  • Medal of Honor: Frontline
  • Medal of Honor: Rising Sun
  • Medal of Honor: Infiltrator
  • Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault
  • Medal of Honor: European Assault
  • Medal of Honor: Heroes and Heroes 2
  • Medal of Honor: Vanguard
  • Medal of Honor: Airborne

Though notable in its own right, Medal of Honor is also known for having spawned Infinity Ward, who went on to make the more popular Call of Duty series. A distinct difference between the two is its narrative focus:
  • In Medal of Honor, you often play as a pivotal American frontline soldier in a particular theater of battle. Though More Dakka is generously provided, you often fight alone (main exceptions being Pacific Assault where you control a team of at least three allies, Airborne where you always have a few paratroopers on your side, although apparently they can run out, and the 2010 game, where most missions find you with at least 1 companion). In any case, most of the action serves to drive you from one iconic action scene to another. The series is noted for great realism and respect for real soldiers in real wars.
  • In Call of Duty, playership is usually divided between a number of nationals, and any number of compatriots fighting alongside you, with gameplay being heavily focused on squad-based combat. Though just as pivotal in terms of gameplay, more focus is put on your comrades and where you fit into this particular unit. The series, especially the later games, tends to have a far more "arcadey" feel to it, especially apparent in its somewhat bizarre Nazi Zombies survival game mode.

This series contains examples of:

  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The first game's third mission. Mind you, Germany and France did have such sewers.
  • Action Girl: Manon in Underground.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Allied Assault's second mission had you crawling through the vents, subverted by the fact that when you get out, you're still inside the base you're escaping from. Rather notably, the Germans find out you're in there and actually try to follow you in.
    • The hydroplant level in the first game had a part where an air vent was the only way to get into a room you had to get into, and if the Germans saw or heard you, they'd start pitching grenades in after you.
  • Anyone Can Die: In Allied Assault, pretty much anyone can die. You can expect several of your squads to be reduced to nothing by the end of a mission, or that one guy who survived the last mission to be killed in this one. However, while some deaths are scripted and inevitable, some soldiers can be saved.
  • Artificial Brilliance/Artificial Stupidity: Medal of Honor is usually either praised for above-average AI or condemned for generally stupid AI. It's never in between. Though, Germans will dive on top of your grenades to save their fellow soldiers.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Sturmgeist in Frontline and the Nemesis Officers and Von Schrader in European Assault can all take significantly more damage that the basic Mooks under their command.
    • The player characters themselves are usually officers in the Allied army and more often or not end up taking on the entire Axis by themselves.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: The player is tasked with holding off a full-scale German charge in the 6th level of Spearhead.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Most machine guns have a load of bullets. But they also suffer from a long reload time, which can be bad if you're caught out in the open. Some guns are also really powerful, but are only available in select missions, or have extremely limited ammo. So sometimes you're just better off sticking to a Boring but Practical assault rifle.
  • Badass:
    • Jimmy Patterson. So badass that Nazi Mooks would address him by name. Hell, the German Army declared war on him! Just look at those wanted posters of him all over the place in Frontline.
    • In the last level of Underground, the Nazi goons bring three tanks and two full squads to ambush Manon specifically because she's that much of a thorn in their side. Naturally, she won anyway.
  • Bag of Spilling: Weapons do not carry over between major missions.
  • Better to Die Than Be Killed: On the Nijmegen Bridge level in Frontline, a German sniper will jump to his death from the top of the bridge rather than be shot by Jimmy.
  • Big Bad: Graf Von Schrader in European Assault.
    • Sturmgeist in Frontline.
    • Bigger Bad: While never made ​​a true appearance in the game, Hitler himself can be seen like this.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Lots of these moments are seen throughout the various games. Sometimes you're the hero, other times allies show up to help you fight off the enemy in the nick of time.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The Nazis all speak and taunt in German, though a cheat in the first game caused them to speak in English. The cheat code itself lampshaded this.
    • The enemies in Rising Sun and Pacific Assault mainly speak Japanese, for obvious reasons.
    • Airborne has missions in Sicily and Italy.
  • Blown Across the Room: Grenades (and large caliber bullets in the later games) caused flying bodies.
    • Shooting someone in the face with a shotgun will make them flip head over heels. That alone makes using the shotgun a must.
  • Boom, Headshot: Although it can be hard to do at times, this usually guarantees a 1 hit kill. For obvious reasons it's easier to do it with a scoped weapon.
  • Check Point Starvation: The first three installments that were released for the console had no in-level checkpoints. This was a major problem with the longer levels in Frontline. However, Allied Assault was based off the Quake 3 engine, and supported Save Scumming through quick save.
  • Cherubic Choir: The WW2 era games often had them as part of its soundtrack, especially in Frontline (notably the Operation Market Garden theme and Arnhem.).
  • Close Range Combatant: Knights from Underground are heavily armoured and run towards the player to hit them with their swords or axes.
  • Collapsing Lair: In Allied Assault, the player must escape from Fort Schmerzen as the whole fortress is rocked by explosions.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The main character of Allied Assault is given the task of the finding the missing officer from the very first game.
    • During Vanguard's first mission, one may recognize parts of the background music from the Manor House level in Frontline.
  • Cosmetic Award: Averted and played straight in the first game. Bronze, silver, and gold medals are granted on how much enemies you kill and how much objectives you carry out, and often netted new player models for multiplayer and cheat codes, but the decorations themselves, earned by progression in the game and all the way to the Dreamworks Medal and the Congressional Medal of Honor, did nothing at all.
    • Allied Assault has the same decorations, but you get them for things that aren't part of the actual mission but help anyway, such as saving an American POW, grabbing a manifest and destroying two King Tigers with explosives you have to find first. Like the first Medal of Honor, they did nothing but give you a sense of accomplishment.
  • Dead Man's Trigger Finger: A staple since the first game. Can be done with any weapon too, which can make it funny when a guy with a panzershreck fires one off at his feet and doesn't launch himself halfway across the room.
  • Distress Call: In the first game, the objective of the first mission is to follow a distress call from a G3 officer who had survived a crash, following him all over enemy territory to try and rescue him.
    • Same reason for the bonus mission in Underground.
  • Do Not Drop Your Weapon
  • Downer Ending:
    • Rising Sun. The Big Bad slits the throat of fellow soldier Tanaka right after he frees you from captivity aboard a supercarrier. He also manages to escape with your kidnapped brother
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Most of the games have a level where you have to dress as an enemy officer.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty / Expy: In Pacific Assault, there's a drill sergeant who looks and acts suspiciously like R. Lee Ermey.
    • Rising Sun also has a similar gunnery sergeant.
  • Driven to Suicide: On Nijmegen Bridge, if you shoot all but one of the snipers off the top of the bridge, the lone sniper will take his chances and jump off the bridge.
    • Sometimes he'll start shooting at the Germans below instead!
  • Drought Level of Doom: In Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, medkits are much scarcer on the Hard difficulty setting, which can make certain sections unwinnable if you blunder away your health beforehand.
  • During the War (World War II)
  • Easter Egg: Multiple in Medal of Honor: Allied Assault.
    • On Omaha Beach and its multiplayer map, if you noclip into the hill the bunkers are on, the word SEAN will be visible.
    • In The Communications Blackout, there is a playable piano and violin in one of the buildings. When activated, they play a short part of the menu music.
    • During the Sniper City mission, if you manage to rescue some of the tank crew in the first level and keep them alive through the entire second level on Hard, you will complete an additional hidden objective to do so. When the level ends, instead of going to the tank levels, you will spawn in the same map, with 60 seconds to hide in it before your are mercilessly hunted down by a hostile bazooka medic.
  • Elite Mooks: The Waffen-SS and Fallschirmjäger in the first game.
    • Sturmgeist's elite guards in Frontline.
    • The Storm Elite troopers in Airborne, who qualify as outright Giant Mooks due to their slow speed, inhumanly high durability, and ability to fire a mounted machine gun as a man-portable weapon and still stay reasonably accurate with it.
  • Emergency Weapon: The pistol in all of the games, generally reserved when you had depleted your ammo for all other weapons. Despite being an emergency weapon, it is quite accurate.
    • Averted in Airborne, where the Mauser C/96 becomes a compact SMG with a blazing rate of fire through the power of upgrades.
    • Additionally, Airborne and all subsequent games gave the pistol infinite extra ammo.
  • Enemy Civil War: Underground's "Civil War Mode".
  • Evil Knockoff: The mass produced Panzerknackers in Underground.
  • Falling into the Cockpit: During the Flyboys mission in Pacific Assault, you are forced to take control of a dive bomber after your pilot bails out. Slightly foreshadowed as the cutscene before this mission informs us that Tommy Conlin (the player character) recieved some flight training from the pilots at Henderson Field.
  • Gameplay Ally Immortality: Usually played straight with important NPCs, but averted in Allied Assault and Frontline, where they can be killed and cause mission failure.
  • Heal Thyself: Medkits come in three types - bandages, "battle rattle", and a canteen in the first game.
  • Heavily Armored Mook/Giant Mook: In Airborne there are the Nazi Storm Elites, gas-mask wearing SS wielding MG 42 machine guns and heavy body armor that lets them survive almost half a mag of assault rifle fire or up to 3 headshots from the sniper rifle.
  • How We Got Here: Pacific Assault starts at the Battle of Tarawa in 1943, then flashes back to Marine boot camp.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: The early games give you multiple weapons slots, allowing the player to carry a pistol, rifle, SMG, machine gun, grenades, and a rocket launcher.
    • Averted starting with Pacific Assault, though Airborne's pistol and two weapons slots plus grenades still meant that the character could carry a 20-lb rocket launcher (with 14 rounds!), a 18lb BAR, and 48 hand grenades.
  • Historical-Domain Character: In one mission of Rising Sun, you can meet Martin Clemens, an actual Coastwatcher that served in the Pacific Theatre.
  • Hyper-Destructive Bouncing Ball: In the first game there was a cheat that allowed for bouncing bullets and bouncing grenades.
  • It's Raining Men: The whole point of Airborne, and the player can control their descent to land almost anywhere on the map. The Allied players in multi-player could do it too.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Happens to an Allied soldier via sniper fire in the Battle in the Bocage level of Allied Assault.
  • Lethal Joke Character: The first game had unlockable multiplayer characters, such as the German attack dog, a wooden toy soldier, William Shakespeare, two of the game developers, Werner von Braun, and a velociraptor named Steven, a Shout-Out to the game's producer. Their accuracy isn't affected.
  • The Medic: In Pacific Assault, Jimmy Sullivan is your team's medic in most missions, and your primary way of healing.
  • Minecart Madness: The level "Enemy Mine" (no relation to the Enemy Mine trope) in Frontline.
  • The Mole: Klaus Knefler in Breakthrough.
  • More Dakka: Gun emplacements tend to focus on this, as well as vehicle mounted weaponry you get to control. Large capacity machine guns also utilize this trope.
  • My Rules Are Not Your Rules: In Allied Assault, enemies can blindfire (with remarkable accuracy) and go prone (sometimes even dolphin diving in the middle of a firefight), both very useful moves that you yourself cannot perform and which can be very annoying when they do it.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast:
    • Fort Schmerzen in Allied Assault. "Schmerzen" means "pain" in German.
    • There's also Lord Sturmgeist in Frontline, "Sturmgeist" meaning "Storm Ghost" in German.
  • No Escape but Down: The end of Operation Rapunzel, where you must push Geritt off a balcony, then jump off yourself into a hay wagon. Oddly, he can survive without landing in the wagon, while you die if you don't.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Most of Medal of Honor: Frontline actually doesn't take place at the front lines of the battlefield. The player spends the bulk of the game as an OSS operative (not a frontline soldier) doing covert missions behind enemy lines, and stealth comes into play in several levels.
  • Noodle Incident: The Allied operative in The Golden Lion tells you about a funny story involving the mermaid statue the two of you pass near the end of the level. As he is killed soon afterwards, we never find out what was the story.
  • No Sidepaths, No Exploration, No Freedom: Played straight in most of the games, averted in Rising Sun and Airborne to some degree.
    • Vanguard as well. Some areas you can only get into if you land in them.
  • Notice This: Important items and objects are highlighted. Other items may be glowing depending on the game (Allied Assualt marks health but not weapons.)
  • One Bullet Clips
    • Averted with the M1 Garand, which the games simply don't let you reload at all until you've used up all the ammo in the current clip.
      • This is not true and most likely done to either balance out bolt-actions in multiplayer or because the game engine could only handle 1 reload animation per gun. Or both. The M1 can easily be reloaded mid-clip, you just have to be careful to not get "Garand Thumb" when doing it.
  • One-Man Army: In the first game, very specifically done as an agent of the OSS. You stop a rail gun, sink a prototype U-Boat, kill Hitler's favorite colonel and destroy his mustard gas facility-slash-fortress, and then wreck his rocket facility.
    • And that's just the first game. There's a reason why Call of Duty for the most part averts this trope since because it was considered very unrealistic. War cannot be won by one person alone.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: After a previously realistic campaign, Airborne's last two missions pits you against gas-masked Super Soldiers toting machine guns.
  • Parachute on a Windmill: In the Rough Landing level of Frontline, a paratrooper who jumps with you is caught on a windmill, and is razed by machine gun fire while trying to free himself. A Call Back to this occurs in the first level of Call of Duty, where your CO is hung up on a tree and killed.
  • Poirot Speak: Klaus in Breakthrough loves to slip German phrases whenever he speaks in English.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: It's a minor point albeit a historical inaccurate one, but Canada's marker for the map for the D-Day invasion is the modern Maple Leaf Flag, which was not adapted until 1965. Most likely the game designers decided that having the Red Ensign flag of that day would too confusing for gamers and not worth the trouble to explain. Rival game Call of Duty 1 used the historically accurate Red Ensign.
  • Real Is Brown: Many of the games.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Ben Crowshaw's rather well-known reaction to the G-Tower in Airborne.
  • Regenerating Health: From the 2006 game Vanguard onward.
  • Remixed Level: Fort Schmerzen, used to produce mustard gas in the first game, is the final mission in Allied Assault.
  • Respawning Enemies: Most games have these in at least a couple levels. Similar to the later Call of Duty, you often have to push your way through.
  • RPG Elements: Only in Airborne's campaign, where you gain XP for using weapons, which levels that weapon up, giving it a new accessory per level.
  • Sequel Hook: Rising Sun ends on a cliffhanger designed to serve as a lead-in to a sequel, but the sequel was canned due to the game's mediocre sales and the plotline was left in limbo (although the ending to the PSP game Medal of Honor: Heroes implies Griffin was able to successfully rescue his brother).
  • Shaggy Dog Story: The G3 officer in the first mission is dead. You're stuck to deal with the angry Nazi search parties.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Silliness Switch: Panzerknacker Unleashed! for Underground featured dogs dancing, driving jeeps, and wielding guns, German knights, zombies, and evil terminator nutcrackers. Did I mention the dancing dogs?
    • The knights were in another mission, so seeing them wasn't very unusual.
    • Did you forget the zombies exploded when killed?
      • There was also "Civil War" mode which caused enemies to fight one another.
    • The "Men with Hats" cheat in Frontline and Rising Sun. Nothing better to lighten the mood than watching a German soldier run around with a fighter plane glued to his head. And it even gets more hilarious as the game progresses. First, it's just random in-game models, but soon, you'll be fighting person-sized fried eggs, sausages, and giant rendered 3D models of the game developers' heads.
      • Tends to be game-breaking when enemies get full-size submarines as hats, leaving you wondering where, exactly, the guy is.
    • The first cheat in the original game granted wacky, superhuman power ups in multiplayer - and, of course, there were the hidden characters, ranging from a German attack dog, to a velociraptor named Steven.
  • Short-Range Shotgun: Played straight in the WWII era games, where the shotgun only tickles enemies past about 20 feet.
  • Sniping Mission: Rising Sun - On an elephant. With a turret.
    • Allied Assault - Mission 5 has two. Sniper's Last Stand - Outskirts is a sniper versus sniper battle, made difficult since the The All-Seeing A.I. can shoot through concealment without difficulty. The Bridge is the other sniping mission, although you aren't sniped back.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Weapon Effectiveness: Averted.
  • Southern Fried Marine: Willy Gaines in Pacific Assault.
  • Standard FPS Guns: Omits the knife, but you get a pistol, an automatic weapon, a rifle, a shotgun, grenades, and a Panzerfaust.
  • Stock Subtitle: Heroes.
  • Storming the Castle: Underground had Manon infiltrate an SS castle. Also, the bonus mission.
    • Operation Repunzel in Frontline. The first game was supposed to have a mission in Colditz Castle, but it was dropped.
  • Tank Goodness: Any and all of the pre-2010 games has at least one tank for the Germans/Japanese. The first game had an unoccupied Tiger that was originally going to be fought.
  • Teleporting Keycard Squad: Nazis almost always rush you from the way you came after obtaining your objective, often accompanied by the fact that they've been tracking you. Sometimes respawning.
  • Those Wacky Nazis
  • Timed Mission: Underground had "Wacky Taxi mode" where all missions get timers.
  • Unexpected Shmup Level: Done several times, e.g. the jeep level in Allied Assault, the halftrack ride in Spearhead, and the truck ride and Minecart Madness sequences in Frontline.
  • Un-Person: A variant is used in the very first game. After James Patterson was awarded the Medal of Honor for his participation and rescue of others in the disastrous recon that preceded D-Day, he suddenly disappears from his barracks and isn't heard from again. It turns out OSS essentially kidnapped him to send him on one-man wars.
  • Very Definitely Final Dungeon: Nordhausen in the original, Gotha in Frontline, Fort Schmerzen in Allied Assault, the Flakturm in Airborne, etc.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: The first game was renowned for enemies reacting to body part specific damage. Shooting them in the crotch often caused hilarious results. On the other hand, it was totally "clean". There was none of the gore and violence associated with most modern FPS games.
  • You No Take Candle: The Soviet soldier who talks to Barnes in Spearhead speaks in grammatically-incorrect English.

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