Video Game / Medal of Honor

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/logo_0.jpg

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, and the games were primarily developed by DreamWorks Interactive (later renamed EA Los Angeles).

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

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.

Note! Entries for Allied Assault, Pacific Assault, Vanguard and Airborne now go on that game's own page. This series contains examples of:

  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The first game's third mission. Mind you, Germany and France did have such sewers.
  • Ace Pilot: Lt. Jimmy Patterson. The reason why he's an officer is because he was a pilot in the army. This never comes up in the games themselves except for the very final mission in Frontlines.
  • Action Girl: Manon in Underground.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Rather notably, if the Germans find out you're in there they will 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: Very rarely used in the WWII games, the most notable being Harry Tanaka in Rising Sun and Sgt. John Magnuson in Vanguard. It isn't until the modern era games where actual playable characters start dying off.
  • 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.
  • Bag of Spilling: Weapons do not carry over between major missions. This is usually because the missions are rarely connected to each other, and the ones that are usually have a reason for not keeping them, such as not wanting explosions going off in a pressurised sub, or dropping most of their equipment after making a several mile long hike.
  • 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: Several games have one:
    • Hermann Müller in both the first game and Allied Assault.
    • Rudolf Ulbricht von Sturmgeist in Frontline.
    • Masataka Shima in Rising Sun.
    • Graf von Schrader in European Assault.
    • 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.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Why they're some of the only T-rated FPS out there.
  • 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: A couple of times, like In Allied Assault, the player must escape from Fort Schmerzen as the whole fortress is rocked by explosions, or in Rising Sun, when the Burma temple that Shima is storing his gold in is rocked from all the fighting, and Joe must avoid being crushed by a falling Buddha statue.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The main character of Allied Assault is given the task of the finding the missing G3 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.
  • 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.
  • The Dreaded: By the end of the first game, the Germans know Jimmy Patterson by name, and in Frontline, have actually put up posters offering a rewards for his capture and/or death.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Most of the earlier 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!
  • During the War (World War II)
  • 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.
  • Goldfish Poop Gang: The knife-throwing German Chef in Frontline, and a similar Japanese Chef in Rising Sun. Both encounter your character multiple times throughout the game, are seemingly killed off without too much effort, only to pop up again and again a few levels down the line somehow. They even get progressively bloodier and more beaten up as the game progresses, so you know it's somehow the same guy throughout the entire game.
  • 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.
  • Jumping on a Grenade: It's not uncommon to see your enemies do this for each other... Even if they didn't really need to.
  • Jungle Warfare: Thanks to being set in the Pacific and CBI, Rising Sun has levels set within the jungles of Guadalcanal, and later, Burma. Aside from the Japanese, the local wildlife also prove to be a serious threat.
  • 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.
  • Multi-Mook Melee: Done in the Final Mission of Frontline when Sturmgeist orders every last soldier available in the base to attack you.
  • 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.
    • Several of the missions did take place on the front, which was an infinite amount more then the previous two console games.
  • 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 Assault marks health but not weapons.)
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Jimmy Patterson was recruited into the OSS because of how he defended his crew after crash landing his C-47 after getting the paratroopers out, holding off several German patrols until they made their way to friendly French forces. This only ever gets mentioned as to why Jimmy joined the OSS.
  • 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. Played straight for all other weapons with magazines.
  • 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.
  • Punch-Packing Pistol: The Hi-Standard Silenced in Allied Assault. Even a bodyshot is a One-Hit Kill, and can snipe a target more than a city block away. The trade-off is that it's slow to fire, as the bolt has to be racked manually with every shot.
  • 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.
  • Suspicious Video Game Generosity: Whenever a mounted gun is found it usually means that a large number of mooks are inbound for you.
  • 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.
  • Universal Ammunition: Played straight in most of the early games, where picking up a Karabiner 98k rifle meant more rounds for your M1 Garand. The series dropped it when they started copying Call of Duty's modus operandi.
  • Unique Enemy: The first game had German Shepard patrol dogs in the final level of the first mission, and nowhere else. The second game had literal Knights In Shining Armor in another level and nowhere else. Frontline had Sturmgeist's personal guards in two levels. Rising Sun, being set in the Pacific campaign, had a handful of German troops in one mission, and nowhere else.
  • 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 parachute drop 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.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/VideoGame/MedalOfHonor?from=Main.MedalOfHonor