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Video Game / Medal of Honor: Airborne

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Paratrooper: Who does the Army trust the most?
Other Paratroopers: Airborne!
Paratrooper: Who do the ladies love the most?
Other Paratroopers: Airborne!!
Paratrooper: Who do the Nazis fear the most?
Other Paratroopers: Airborne!!!
- Introduction of The Opening

Medal Of Honor: Airborne is the 11th installment of the Medal of Honor series and released in 2007 for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and Microsoft Windows. It is the first Medal of Honor game to be released on 7th generation consoles, and the only 7th gen game in the series to be set in World War 2.

In this game, players control Private First Class, and later, Corporal, Boyd Travers, a paratrooper from the 82nd, and later the 17th, Airborne Divisions as he and his squad, led by Sergeant Setzer and assisted by Private Wirth, help liberate Europe from the Axis, one drop zone at a time.

The game is notable for being able to land anywhere at the start of each level. Potentially, this means that players can have a unique experience each time they play a level, making it easier or harder depending on the location they landed on. Also notable is the ability to upgrade every single weapon in-game, such as the Thompson receiving a drum magazine and grip, and the M1 Garand receiving adjustable sights and a Rifle Grenade launcher.

Airborne was the last major Medal of Honor game set in World War II, prior to the 2010 reboot moving the series to the modern War on Terror.

Characters are listed here.

Airborne provides examples of:

  • Absurdly-Spacious Sewer: Travers, Wirth, and Setzer escape the Flak tower using the tower's sewer system. Unfortunately, Travers himself is ambushed by the remaining German troops in the Flak tower, and cut off from the others, forcing him to fight his way out.
  • All for Nothing: Despite the 82nd securing the Nijmegen bridge and Col. Webb's confident after-action report stating that fighting would end swiftly, Operation Market Garden ends in failure due to circumstances outside of their control, specifically the British 1st Airborne Division becoming overwhelmed by incessant attacks from the Waffen-SS offscreen.
  • America Won World War II: A rare straight case for the series (even allowing for its tendency to have you play as an American One-Man Army), as the debriefing monologues go all-out in emphasizing America's contribution to the war effort; after a relatively minor skirmish in early 1943, Col. Webb states "the war has begun", and after the raid on the flak tower in 1945, he declares "the war is over" and effectively gives the Airborne full credit for it. The only other Allied nation to even warrant a mention is done so in passing, after Operation Market Garden, which itself is presented as a great victory - in complete contrast to the earlier Medal of Honor: Frontline, which correctly depicted the operation as the Allies' most notorious bungle. The "Nazis fight alone" flip side is also present, as even though half the game takes place in Italy, several missions well before they officially surrendered, Italian soldiers only show up for about five minutes in the first mission before giving way for smarter and better-equipped German troops.
  • Anachronism Stew: The M18 recoilless rifle is first featured during the Normandy landings, almost a year before it was historically first introduced, in March 1945.
  • Anti-Air: The Germans have the 20mm Flakvierling 38, which is often an objective to be destroyed during a mission. The final level involves assaulting a Flak Tower, which is this trope taken up to eleven.
  • Anti-Armor: The Panzergrenadier's basic role. Travers himself is forced into this role whenever a Tiger I tank appears.
  • Artificial Brilliance:
    • Your teammates can be surprisingly good shots at times, as they can melee or kill enemies in one hit, potentially saving Travers from inescapable situations.
    • The Axis troops, especially a lot of the later ones encountered, are capable of squad tactics, and are very much capable of suppressing a player into taking cover and forcing said player to use fire-and-maneuver tactics. At the same time, however...
  • Artificial Stupidity:
    • One criticism of the game was how dated the enemy A.I. was at certain times, like simply trying to rush the player without firing a single shot.
    • Your teammates' A.I. is just as bad most of the time, as they're easily taken down by the dozens in firefights thanks to taking little to no cover.
  • Artistic License History:
    • There were no Flak Towers in Essen, Germany, much less being assaulted by American paratroopers late in World War II. The only ones built were located in cities like Berlin, Vienna, and Hamburg, and the only ones assaulted were by Soviet forces.
    • While there were Waffen-SS units that fought in Normandy, none of them were defending Utah Beach during D-Day itself. What's even worse is that they're also seen with the more appropriate European Heer Infantry units, which actually were in the area at the time of the landing.
  • Artistic License Military: Both Dane and Setzer, despite being Sergeants, are shown having the stripes of a Private First Class on their uniforms.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: The officer variants of most Axis soldiers tend to be armed with more powerful automatic weapons, and are a lot harder to take down. In some cases, and depending on the difficulty, they can give even experienced players a run for their money. The black-uniformed S.S. Commanders are the toughest normal enemies in the game (not counting the Heavily Armored Mook Nazi Storm Elites), with almost twice the health of a basic enemy soldier, and capable of taking 3 rifle rounds to the torso compared to just 2 for everyone else.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Mauser C96 handgun becomes this upon reaching its third level, a conversion to automatic fire (the other two are a wooden shoulder stock and a larger magazine). While the two first improve the weapon's usefulness by making it more accurate and letting you shoot it more between reloads, the increased fire rate actually hinders its performance, as even with the higher capacity it empties itself in no time flat, forcing the player to spend precious time reloading it repeatedly, thus eliminating the advantages of using your sidearm rather than just reloading one of your stronger and better primary weapons.
  • Battle Cry: Travers' squadmates frequently yell "Airborne!" during combat, which also doubles as a Title Drop.
Who does the army trust the most?
Who do the ladies love the most?
Who do the Nazis fear the most!?!
  • Bittersweet Ending: Travers manages to blow up Der Flakturm, the last German stronghold on the Rhine, and survives the battle and the end of the War in Europe. But the rest of his squad, including his superior Sgt. Setzer and buddy Pvt. Wirth, are killed in the heavy fighting.
  • Cold Sniper: The Waffen Senior Troopers and Fallschirmjager Snipers. Travers himself counts as one whenever he uses a sniper rifle, due to maintaining his composure throughout.
  • Concept Art Gallery: Earning medals for certain in-game actions will unlock bonus videos featuring various stages of the game's development, ranging from literal concept art of the in-game missions, to the weapon animations and cinematic creation.
  • Continuity Nod: During the parachute jump at the start of Operation Husky, Frank Keegan's C-47 can be seen falling out of the sky with one of the engines on fire.
  • Do-Anything Soldier: Travers goes from regular paratrooper, to demolitions expert, to sniper, and finally into anti-tank role. Justified, since he's a paratrooper, soldiers who regularly work behind enemy lines, and are often outnumbered, outgunned, and forced into improvising in order to complete objectives.
    • Setzer and Wirth themselves are assigned to demolition duty in the final level.
  • Do Not Run with a Gun: One major gameplay element that distinguishes Airborne from most other FPS games is that you can't move by default when aiming down sights, as the movement controls will cause you to lean instead when using your sights, you have to hold down the sprint button in order to move while aiming down sights which is very slow, but you can also use this to lean, then hold shift so you can move while leaning. This is also true of the A.I.-controlled characters, who can occasionally hip-fire while running but for the most part have to stand still and aim their weapons before firing.
  • Doom Troops: The Waffen Storm Leaders, high-ranking officers armed with STG 44s, and the Nazi Storm Elites, gas-mask wearing Waffen SS units armed with MG 42s. Both these enemy types wear the distinct black S.S. uniform (which was very much a real life version of this trope), rather than the more utilitarian woodland camouflage the regular Waffen S.S. soldiers wear.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Just when it seems Wirth and Setzer had also made it out of the Flak Tower in the final level, they are found dead or dying by Travers near the Plunger Detonator they had set up, having been killed by some of the remaining German defenders.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: The game focuses on the paratroopers of the 82nd and 17th Airborne Divisons, so this is a given.
    • Later levels, starting with Market Garden, have exclusively elite German troops come up against the paratroopers.
  • Elite Mooks: Several of them, most notably the Fallschirmjagers and the later Waffen-SS units.
  • The Enemy Weapons Are Better: American automatic weapons tend to have better damage at the cost of higher recoil and lower magazine capacity. The problem is the extra damage generally isn't enough to make a practical difference in terms of how many bullets it takes to kill most enemies, so you're generally better off trading your tommy gun or BAR rifle for an MP40 or Sturmgewehr rifle as soon as you can kill someone for their gun. Yahtzee even observed this in his Zero Punctuation video on the game, referring to the American guns as "a pile of ass and recoil".
  • Equipment Upgrade: All weapons and grenades come with various upgrades that increase their lethality, such as a Grenade Launcher for rifles or larger magazines for submachine guns.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: By the end of the game, Travers is the only surviving member of his original squad.
  • Evil Counterpart: The Fallschirmjager to the American Paratroopers. Much like their American counterparts, they are elite airborne troops armed with an array of automatic weapons.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: Der Flakturm, a massive flak tower being used as the final German stronghold on the Rhine.
  • Excuse Plot: Compared to previous entries like Allied Assault, Airborne prefers to focus more on the fighting and the setting than on the characters themselves, resulting in this effect.
  • Fake Ultimate Mook: The Waffen Infantry and Waffen Officers. While they're initially built up to be the game's Elite Mooks much like previous entries ala Allied Assault, they go down in one-three hits. This isn't helped when the actual Elite Mooks, the Fallschirmjager, are first introduced. And they prove to be even deadlier shots and have much more health than their Waffen counterparts.
  • Friendly Fire Proof: Your allies will twitch and complain when shot by you, but don't actually take damage. This is a good thing, too, since they have a bad habit of running through your line of fire; their uniforms are also pretty easy to mistake for that of some of the enemy soldiers, too, particularly the forest camo worn by the Waffen-SS.
  • Gas Mask Mooks: The Panzergrenadiers and the Nazi Storm Elites. The former is justified, due to the masks protecting them from the flash and backblast of their Panzerschrecks, while the latter simply wear it in order to look more intimidating.
  • Grenade Launcher: The final upgrades for the M1 Garand, Springfield, Kar 98, and Gewehr 43 give them rifle grenade launchers that allow them to fire either Mk. II or Model 24 grenades from their barrels.
  • Gun Porn: Compared to previous entries in the series, the developers really took the time to study and detail each and every one of the firearms featured in the game, as this video shows.
  • Heavily Armored Mook: The Nazi Storm Elites, Waffen-SS soldiers equipped with body armor and wielding MG42s which otherwise can only be used as stationary turrets, are ridiculously tough to kill. They're not as tough as the Heavies from games like First Encounter Assault Recon or Gears of War, but can still take almost half a mag of assault rifle fire, which is a lot considering the game otherwise has realistic weapon damage for enemies.
  • Home by Christmas: Said word-for-word by Travers' superior officer during the briefing for Operation Market Garden. As we all know, this wouldn't be the case, as the war in Europe would go on for 8 more months.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Zigzagged. While the game only gives you allowance to carry 2 primary weapons, a pistol, and grenades, with the correct upgrades and weapons, a player can carry one anti-tank rocket (complete with 14 rounds), a light machine gun, and at least 36 grenades of different types all at once.
  • I Can Still Fight!: One Paratrooper during the start of the Avalanche drop gets wounded by flak while nearing the drop zone, but chooses to jump with the rest of Travers' platoon anyway.
  • Improperly Placed Firearms: The Italian blackshirts use German weapons, since they only show up for about five minutes in Operation Husky before giving way for Germans entirely. Your side also has a form of this; while the distinctive holster for the M1A1 Carbine is present on the models of several of the 82nd Airborne men, the Carbine itself is not available, forcing you and your allies to use long arms that were very ill-suited for paradrop operations like the M1 Garand and M1918 BAR.
  • Involuntary Group Split: Just after Travers manages to link up with Setzer and Wirth in the Flak Tower's basement, they are ambushed by the remaining German garrison holed up there. The latter manage to escape, but Travers is unwittingly left behind and forced to fight his way out. This, however, saves his life, as Setzer and Wirth are subsequently killed in an ambush just outside the tower.
  • It's Raining Men: The Game. The cover features an American Paratrooper jumping out of a C-47, and pretty much every level in-game starts this way, even giving you the freedom of picking where exactly you want to land and start fighting.
    • Subverted with the German Paratroopers, the Fallschirmjager. While they are paratroopers, they are never seen in-game to be jumping from aircraft. Truth in Television, since by this point in the war they had all been re-tasked to standard infantry roles due to Germany being on the defensive rather than on offensive.
  • Joke Item: The Karabiner 98k is this. It's a bolt-action rifle without a scope, with a fairly long bolt-pull time of about 1.5 seconds (significantly longer than in, say, Battlefield 1). However, unlike the game's other bolt-action rifle (the Springfield sniper with scope), the Karabiner 98k takes 2 shots to the torso to kill an enemy, giving it by far the lowest DPS and highest time-to-kill of any weapon in the game. It basically combines the slower rate of fire of the Springfield with the lower damage of the semi-auto M1 Garand or Gewehr 43. There's absolutely no reason to use it unless you really like a challenge, or you think the rifle grenade attachment might be worth using, and tellingly enemies stop carrying it after the first level.
  • Justified Tutorial: The training mission taking place in North Africa has Travers and other volunteers training on how to jump and land in a drop zone.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: A U.S. paratrooper was telling a joke. "What do you get when you mix a Nazi with a cockroach? You get-" He then gets shot before he could say the punchline.
  • Later-Installment Weirdness: This game, rather than focus on the OSS, focuses instead on a frontline US Army unit, the paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division. And rather than starting at a fixed location, with a fixed choice of weapons, and advancing from there, this one gives you the freedom to drop anywhere along a semi-open area, and even allow you to pick your weapons at the start.
  • Lifesaving Misfortune: Just as Travers, Setzer, and Wirth manage to rendezvous and make an exit from the basement of the Flak Tower, they are ambushed by some of the remaining German garrison holed up there. This results in the aforementioned Involuntary Group Split, where Travers is forced into fighting his way out. When he finally catches up to his squadmates near the base of the tower, he finds Wirth dead and Setzer dying from his wounds (along with the corpses of several German paratroopers), as they were ambushed just outside the manhole they made their escape from.
  • Limited Loadout: In contrast to earlier Medal of Honor games, where the closest to a limit was an inability to pick up German weapons if you already had an equivalent Allied one. The system is very similar to the original Call of Duty, with two primary weapon slots, a slot for a sidearm (which you never get any alternatives for until the penultimate level), and grenades.
  • Made of Iron: The Nazi Storm Elites. Although in videogame dynamics they enjoy more or less the same size-toughness proportion as a tank, their appearance is simply that of uniformed men in gas masks, nothing which could explain their ability to shrug off all kinds of no-vital part damage. However, it's heavily implied that they're wearing bullet-resistant flak jackets under their coats, thus explaining to some degree their durability against most small arms.
  • New Work, Recycled Graphics: Airborne was developed concurrently with Vanguard (a Playstation 2/Wii exclusive) and uses many of the same levels, weapons, and systems. However, the games are different enough, with completely different campaign stories, that they're not really a port or Reformulated Game of each other.
  • No Swastikas: Instead, all German symbols on flags or loading screens are either Balkenkreuz or German eagles.
  • One-Man Army: As with a lot of the previous entries in the series, Travers is very much capable of wiping out platoons of enemies, and even a few tanks, at one point.
  • Operation: [Blank]: The alternate names for each of the missions sans the training one are "Operation" combined with the actual codenames of each respective campaign.
  • Orphaned Setup: The penultimate level has one of the paratroopers in your plane start on a joke: "What do you get when you cross a Nazi and a cockroach?" The plane takes fire and one of the bullets hits him through the head before he can give the punchline.
  • Plunger Detonator: The appropriately-named "Hellbox", which is used by Travers following Setzer's death to blow the German Flak tower to smithereens.
    • The Germans also attempt to use one to destroy the Nijmegen bridge during Operation Market Garden. Travers, however, destroys it before it can even be used.
  • Quote Mine: While each mission has one name in Operation: [Blank] format, following the names of the real operations from the war, they also have a secondary name taken from a quote displayed at the beginning of the level dealing with paratroopers. For instance, Operation Avalanche begins with a quote from the 82nd Airborne's Commanding General during the war, General James M. Gavin, stating "show me a man who will jump out of an airplane, and I'll show you a man who will fight" - the mission is thus titled "The Show".
  • Rank Up: Travers is promoted from Pfc. to Cpl. following his actions in Nijmegen. It's even implied, based on promotional materials, that, following Setzer's death in the final level, he later gets promoted to Sgt. as well.
  • Regenerating Health: The game uses the "health blocks" system from games like Pariah, Escape from Butcher Bay, Condemned 2: Bloodshot, etc. Your health is divided into 4 segments, and each segment regenerates if it is only partially drained, but if the full segment is drained you need to find a health kit to restore it.
  • Sliding Scale of Linearity vs. Openness: Level 3. The game allows you to start anywhere on the map, as well as give you the option of which objectives to finish first, as well as, in some the levels, the route at which you prefer to take.
  • Sniper Duel: Husky has Travers forced to snipe and kill a German officer armed with a sniper rifle as one of his objectives.
  • Sniper Scope Glint:
    • The Heer Officer faced during the midway point of "Operation Husky" wields a Karabiner 98 Sniper Rifle that produces a massive glint that pretty much gives away his position to the player. This is intended to help introduce players on how enemy snipers operate, due to more skilled snipers appearing in later levels that have much better aim and faster firing rifles.
    • The Waffen Senior Troopers and Fallschirmjager Snipers are notorious for having a Sniper Rifle capable of killing players in just four hits. To counter this, their locations are marked by a rather large glint in their scopes, not helped that they refuse to relocate from their perches even when spotted and fire tracer rounds that leave telltale white trails.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: Each subsequent enemy type faced will overall be tougher to fight than the last, with the lowest classified as "Trained" and the last few classified as "Special". Italian Blackshirts, the first enemies encountered, have a Combat Rating of 1, Heer units have Combat Ratings of around 2 and 3, Waffen-SS have around 4, 5, and 6, Fallschirmjager have 7 and 8, Panzergrenadiers have 9, and finally, The Dreaded Nazi Storm Elites are 10.
  • Storming the Beaches: Done by members of the 4th Infantry Division in Neptune.
  • Stupid Jetpack Hitler: Played with, but ultimately downplayed. While some of the Nazi troops and imagery (most notably the Storm Elites) do seem like something out of a Wolfenstein game, they use actual equipment and are wearing uniforms that were standard-issue or in widespread use for the time. Similarly, the interior of the flak tower was compared in some reviews to the Death Star set, but it was arguably just how real life flak towers looked like inside.
  • Take Cover!: While the game doesn't have as detailed a cover system as, say, Gears of War, you do take noticeably reduced damage while behind cover and are therefore encouraged to fire from cover as much as possible. The game's movement system which prevents you from moving when aiming down sights, but which allows you to lean or peak over cover when doing so, further emphasizes the usage of cover.
  • Tank Goodness: The German Tiger I tank, which makes appearances in Saved by Sacrifice and The Opening. And when they do appear, you will remember them.
  • Tanks for Nothing: The Sherman tanks in The Opening, which were intended to reinforce the paratroopers taking Nijmegen, are destroyed easily by Panzergrenaders defending the bridge. This forces Travers and the rest of his unit to storm the bridge and remove all the threats.
  • There Is No Kill like Overkill: Both German tanks and Panzerschrek troops typically target the player character, instead of, say, objectives more tactically appropriate for their weapons.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Per the series tradition, but the Nazi Storm Elites take the cake. Despite the latter falling under this though, DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THEM.
  • Trapped Behind Enemy Lines: More like "Dropped behind enemy lines", since every mission that takes place requires you to fight outnumbered and outgunned.
  • Unique Enemy: Operation Husky has two unique groups of enemies. The first half of the mission has you up against Italian Blackshirts. Once you get to the midpoint of the mission, the Italians make way for Tropical Heer Infantry (i.e. Afrika Korps soldiers), who are replaced with European Heer Infantry (i.e. standard Wehrmacht soldiers) starting in Avalanche.
    • To a lesser extent, the single squad of Fallschirmjäger Infantry encountered during Varsity also count.
    • In a single-enemy example, one of the Heer Officers encountered in the climax of Husky is equipped with a sniper rifle as apposed to he submachine guns they normally use.
  • Unexpectedly Realistic Gameplay: For all the potential of being a One-Man Army, the player can still very much end up a Sitting Duck should, or rather when, they land into enemy-occupied zones on the map and have their health bars reduced to zero even before they can pull out a weapon.
  • Urban Warfare: Most of the levels take place within a village or a city. The exceptions are Avalanche and Neptune, where the fighting takes place in a commandeered archaeological dig site and near the beach, naturally.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Sgt. Dane, Travers' and Wirth's original squad leader, disappears after sending the latter two to reinforce fellow Sgt. Setzer. Though considering the German counterattack not too long after that, it's heavily implied he was Killed Offscreen in the ensuing chaos.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: Just when it seems that Varsity is the final operation for the paratroopers, they are briefed again by their C.O. that German resistance is still strong just across the Rhine river, and that the Germans they routed are now holed in a Flak tower.


Video Example(s):


C96 to M712

By killing enough enemies with any weapon in ''Medal of Honor: Airborne'', you can have them upgraded to make them more useful. In this video, the pathetic Mauser C96 is gradually upgraded into a punch-packing automatic pistol.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / EquipmentUpgrade

Media sources: