Medal of Honor. Call of Duty. Both are gigantic franchises, award winners and record breakers. They even share a common history, with the original Call of Duty being made by some of the same developers that had produced Medal of Honor Allied Assault for EA.
Now, with Black Ops close to release and Medal of Honor flashbanging store shelves everywhere to the tune of 1.5 million first week sales, the time is right to pit these giants against each other. The scores in brackets are the Metacritic scores for the Xbox versions of the games: where there is no applicable data the PS2 version has been used. Let’s get it on!
Medal of Honor: Frontline (81/100) Call of Duty 2 (89/100)
A bonus inclusion in the PS3 (boo, hiss etc) version of the new Medal of Honor, Frontline is one of the high points of the MOH series on consoles. An early PS2 release, Frontline’s recreation of that beach assault was a revelation at the time, and the game as a whole was an excellent title in its day.
The same is true of COD 2: developed by Infinity Ward, it was probably the best of the 360’s launch titles. That said lineup wasn’t brilliant doesn’t matter: COD 2 still stands up today.
X360 Prefers: Has to be COD 2: Frontline hasn’t aged well at all, and Captain Price’s moustache holds formidable sway.
Medal of Honor: Rising Sun (68/100) Call of Duty 3 (83/100)
Neither game could match the successes of its forbearer in terms of critical reception, but COD 3 made the transition to new developers Treyarch well enough to not be considered a disaster. Rising Sun on the other hand was a total mess.
X360 Prefers: COD 3, without a shadow of a doubt.
Medal of Honor: European Assault (73/100) Call of Duty 4 (94/100)
Whereas EA was still creating shooters set in the increasingly-tired World War II era, Infinity Ward (which had made its name by doing that exact same thing better than EA) was looking to the present for a more modern approximation of war.
European Assault is clearly better than Rising Sun, but there was no way it was going to compete with Modern Warfare’s combination of smart and slick single-player and crack-level addictiveness of multiplayer.
X360 Prefers: Modern Warfare. No question.
Medal of Honor: Vanguard (63/100) Call of Duty: World at War (84/100)
By 2007 the WWII setting was beyond tired, and Vanguard (a Wii and PS2-only release) paid the price with critics for refusing to change. Critics cited its rehashed theme, setting and short length as major problems, and Vanguard fell by the wayside. 2008 saw Treyarch also releasing a World War II-themed FPS, and although World at War was criticised for the setting it had enough fresh features (four-player co-op, that online mode) to see it through.
X360 Prefers: World at War is simply a much better game.
Medal of Honor Airborne (73/100) Modern Warfare 2 (94/100)
Airborne was the last of the next-gen entries in the series to be set in WWII, and for good reason: it just couldn’t compete anymore. The parachute mechanic that enables you to choose your entry point to the mission is interesting (even if it was also in Vanguard), and the game isn’t bad on the whole. But times had changed and it was obvious EA needed to rethink its direction, leading to a two-year hiatus for the series.
As for Modern Warfare 2, well, need we even say anything?
X360 Prefers: Can you guess?