Medal of Honor reviews "a black eye for EA management", cause share dip

But publisher and some analysts remain optimistic about longer-term recovery

EA's share price fell by 6 per cent last night, apparently following the release of and critical reception to rebooted shooter Medal of Honour.

The game currently holds a 74 (PS3) and 76 (360) per cent review average on Metacritic - likely to be considered disappointing for a high-profile modern combat title intended to compete with Call of Duty.

Failing to achieve 85-90 per cent is "a black eye for EA management given the amount of focus and hype they have placed on the game," reasoned Cowen and Company analysts Doug Cruetz and Adam Noily, in a post-release assement titled "Early Medal of Honour reviews look decidedly Tier 2."

"We believe the mixed reviews could impact the title's legs as it will likely be competitively disadvantaged once Activision releases Call of Duty: Black Ops. We continue to believe MoH can achieve roughly 4MM units in first year worldwide sales but believe that the likelihood of upside to that figure is now significantly diminished."

Cowen felt EA's planned revenue recovery over the next year was endangered as a result of Medal of Honor's predicted performance, and rated the publisher's stock neutral.

In a statement to the LA Times, EA attempted to shrug off the lower-end reviews, drawing attention to a number of higher-scoring ones.

"Critics' scores are highly subjective," it said. "The game had the highest pre-orders in the 11-year history of the Medal of Honor franchise; this is an essentially big achievement considering Medal of Honor has been dormant for several years.

"This is the first year in rebooting the franchise. Medal of Honor is part of a larger EA strategy to take share in the shooter category. This is a marathon not a sprint -– today's Medal of Honor launch represents a step forward in that race."

Other analysts felt the share price drop might be due to artificial levels of inflation in the game's much-hyped run up to release.

Said Eric Handler of MKM Partners to The Wall Street Journal, "This is a high-profile game where EA owns the [intellectual property], which can result in above-average margins as no license fee or royalty has to be paid to another entity."

"As such, I think it's a situation where some of the air is being let out of the balloon following a nice run in the shares and high expectations."

Lazard's Colin Sebastian agreed, noting that EA's stock risen some 15 per cent over the last six weeks, but noted that the mid-level reviews were "certainly bugging people."

EA's initial share price drop of $1.05 had recovered by $0.09 at the time of writing.

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Latest comments (40)

Lawrence Makin Audio 10 years ago
For once I actually feel a bit sorry for EA - they really tried with this title. I found a few minor bugs in the beta, but the gameplay was smooth, the level design was excellent, and combat was fun.

The fact that the single player campaign was so short might dampen the ratings somewhat, but I would hope that once players really start getting into the multiplayer side of things, they'll see the light.

Who plays single player campaigns of a mostly multiplayer FPS anyway? It's more of an added bonus than an expectation - in my opinion anyway.
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Thomas Sigrist10 years ago
Multi-engine, multi-studio, multi-plattform games should be punished like this ... no vision, just trying desperatly to make all the diffrent parts that work in other games fit together to deliver something like an AAA game.
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Umar Tahir Studying Designer, Train2Game10 years ago
Ive always thought it should be the other way around for most games, there really should be a solid singleplayer AND multiplayer to back each other up if possible. Take Bad company 2 for example, nice SP experience and its a good MP game.

But then again look at the Bioshock series so far, Bioshock 1 was amazingly well done, without MP as all the focus was on SP. Now with Bioshock 2, alot of people pretty much agree that it isn't nearly as good as the first game, and its got Laggy/buggy (but fun) multiplayer to boot.

Although I don't much like the idea of not having a SP Campaign, i suppose if your going to focus on creating a great Multiplayer game then yes i do see your point at the same time.
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Show all comments (40)
Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D10 years ago
This is the first time ratings have ever affected my decision to purchase. I was looking forward to this, but I'm not sure I'll buy it this weekend. I'm having way too much fun with NHL 11 right now anyway, but with the low ratings I'll just hold off until the price drops. I've got another 7/8 years of my Be A Pro NHL career to go anyway:)
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Terence Gage Freelance writer 10 years ago
I find it wierd that EA's share price dropped when the reviews started to filter through - surely the sales are the important factor, and history has shown that many massively marketed 'just' good-scoring games can still sell in their millions.

However, I'm not generally interested in games' multiplayer modes, so I look for a good campaign (co-op is always a bonus too), and if it has multiplayer then maybe I'll check it out.
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Mario Rodriguez Gonzalez Game Evaluation Analyst, Electronic Arts10 years ago
@ Thomas
Taking everything that has worked out of other games/previous iterations and then packing it into your game is something that pretty much happens in EVERY game. Wherever you go, you'll see the "canons" of the genre resonate within the game.

If you are going to release something even close to an AAA game, you need vast sales to compensate the effort. That means, esentially, giving people what they want and expect. Try making and FPS without, say, vehicle sequences. Or mounted MG sequences. Or sniper sequences. Major chances are you can kiss your profit margins (and Metascores) goodbye, because those things, borrowed or not, have become staples.

Multi-platform games should be punished? Me, I'd prefer that I could chose which platform to play purely on technical and polish reasons, not just because someone things only Console X should have that game.

Multi-studios games should be punished? So you'd rather have each studio stick to their formulas and idiosyncracy and do their stuff, instead of promoting exchange of ideas and methodologies? I find that VERY sad coming from a future games professional.

It looks to me you're just citing cliches appliable to most major titles, rather than offering a solid argumentation.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Mario Rodriguez Gonzalez on 13th October 2010 3:14pm

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Kim Blake Senior Events & Education Co-ordinator, Blitz Games Studios10 years ago
@Mario -

Well said!
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Wesley Williams Quality Assurance 10 years ago
I was looking forward to this for the single player. The reviews have basically put me off. I've had enough of COD and Bad Company was so good that I had high hopes for this. I might rent it down the line, but I certainly won't be buying.
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Kenneth Seward Game Designer 10 years ago
IMO, this game is one of many examples of how studios aren't making games anymore but products in recent years. Whenever you create a game that consist of multiple design types from other games and leave no real level of imagination or creativity, then the game/franchise is in a propetual state of quagmire. I mean its not that hard to do, just look at EA's other franchise Dead Space. They completely ripped off RE4 design conepts, but added the dismemberment aspect in combat and its a completely new game. I understand what Mario is saying about games now a days but that does not give devs the right to make a BBC2 mod and call it a new game. So the real fault lies on the publishers who viewed this game as just a money making venture and not a true gaming IP.
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Lets see what happens after the first week of sales.
Proof is still in the puddin'
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@ Mario & Kim
Umar didn't make those comments, it was the post before from Thomas.
However, in general I agree with your points, although I am not sure about the solid argumentation (?) of sacrificing either a Single-player aspect to focus on Multi-player or Multi-player to focus on a Single-player.
While games do need the staples and expected brand and design pillars to succeed, they also need to innovate and add value to the game promise with each new offering.
Metacritic scores are not the be all and end all of a games measure, like it or not a high scoring game that has low sales will not go anyway to ensuring it's success. Critical acclaim while encouraging is no substitute for a positive ROI.
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Pete Thompson Editor 10 years ago
A short campaign is of no use to me, I buy games for my enjoyment, and I honestly couldn't give 2 monkeys about Multiplayer, mainly due to the online experience being spoilt in many games due to games like CoD being full of unskilled gamers who's only intent is getting through the 700 odd ranks as quickly as possible by nade spamming or glitching and MoH online and Bad Company 1&2 having under powered weapons, Even SNIPER Ghost Warrior online is full of numptys lobbing nades everywhere, It's a tactical shooter, whats up with people??

EA's main focus with MoH was quite clearly the multiplayer aspect so that they could compete with the Call of Duty titan, thats obvious by the amount of multiplayer assets released compared to single player assets, Same happend with Bad Company 2, that had a short campaign as that also focused mainly on Multiplayer, which for gamers who's main interest is SP isn't good value for money..

Shame as I was quite excited when I first heard from EA press that a new MoH was in the making as the previous Medal of Honor games were fantastic..

Maybe DICE should have done the multiplayer as a digital download similar to Battlefield 1943 and Danger Close develop the single player as a retail with more content to satisfy those who prefer campaigns, Include a redeem code or sell 2 versions for those that want MP ;-)

> runs off to submit patent for that idea <

Also, Why couldn't EA release MoH worldwide on the same day?? Makes a lot of gamers in PAL regions feel less important as customers while gamers in non PAL regions are enjoying the game and getting a head start in the leaderboards..

Edited 4 times. Last edit by Pete Thompson on 13th October 2010 3:32pm

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Mario Rodriguez Gonzalez Game Evaluation Analyst, Electronic Arts10 years ago
Fixed. Thanks for the heads up, mate.

I totally agree with your points. Those staples, as I said in other article, are there because at some point someone decided to take a canon existing before and do something crazy with it (what? vehicle sequences on my FPS?), and it's vital to the protruded survival of genres that this stuff happens and gets new ideas in.

I wasn't critizising the idea behind it as much as the fact that it was delivered in the same way we've been hearing for a long time, making AAA titles the big satans that are killing originality and innovation and quickly condemning them before even playing them. Things aren't so black and white.

The mention about Metacritic was just trying to point a well-kown and acknowledge metric for review scores. Of course, every reviewer is a world and every player is another, sometimes wildly different and thriving on different stuff, but at least from my point of view and experience, expectations still have a big sway over game perception, and hence, scores.
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Probably Thomas wanted to point out how some "industrial" way of making games might kill the game itself.
If the model is just "plan for the ROI", as a form of simplistic recipe, rather than "plan for the fun AND THEN for the ROI" of a game product, the risk is to be "punished" by the people, who ultimately pay for it.
It's not the first time EA is asked for "quality". The last time I remember of, CEO Riccitiello had to promise more (quality) in EA franchises a couple of years ago. And this might simply be another request for "more" among reviewers. People might simply think: "You are EA, you're supposed - and expected - to deliver "the best fun", rather than "anything you can produce - anyhow - and profit from"".
And this is something I can easily agree with, given EA is one of the (if not THE) top publishers/developers in the whole world.

And this of course with all due respect to the many talented people that worked on the game.
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Howard Parry10 years ago
"Who plays single player campaigns of a mostly multiplayer FPS anyway? It's more of an added bonus than an expectation - in my opinion anyway."

That would be horrific, if in the future FPSs are simply multiplayers with single player campaigns tacked on as a bonus. As pathetic as it sounds, I (and I'm sure many others) appreciate the story, cutscenes and set pieces that introduce unpredictability and tension. They may be shallow, have several plotholes or whatever, but it's far more varied than the "learn map-follow best strategy-kill opponents" mechanism of multiplayer.

Also, MW2 (and several FPSs before and after) have covered what MoH multiplayer does, several times over.
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> Medal of Honor reviews "a black eye for EA management", cause share dip <

It what way does this cause EA management to suffer?
Not every game can be a FIFA10 or FIFA11... and it isn't a really 'poor' score.... The fact is, its selling well, so I predict smiles for the board members as its is their IP, so no payments to anyone...

The problem EA may have, and its development partners, is finding something unique selling point on which to develop their FPSs and make people want to buy them. MoH, Battlefield, Crysis, BulletStorm.. etc., what are their unique selling points and how do they grab people for continued online use? There is no extra DLC/monthly fee in single player campaigns...

The problem with single player/story modes is that they have to be worth 30 if the person has no intention of playing multi-player but still wants to buy the game. Good SP development is expensive and doesn't generate monthly income.

If the buyer is buying it for multi-player, they may never play singleplayer unless they have an incentive to do so (upgrades, unlocks, information on how better to use multi-player maps etc)

I agree with Pete; "Maybe DICE should have done the multiplayer as a digital download similar to Battlefield 1943 and Danger Close develop the single player as a retail with more content to satisfy those who prefer campaigns, Include a redeem code or sell 2 versions for those that want MP ;-)"

I don't want every FPS to be purely online for the same reason as with MMORPGs.... I can't commit every evening or weekend to levelling up. However I may be able to play SP for 30mins to the next checkpoint...

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Sean Arnold Editorial and Content Manager 10 years ago
I expected the sales to be low at first, mainly because I have barely seen any ads for the game. But I think in the long run more gamers will trickle over. Remember to make money you have to spend money.
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Andrew Clayton QA Weapons Tester, Electronic Arts10 years ago
One of my friends got the game yesterday and showed me how it worked. Frankly, I was extremely impressed. After dealing with the absolutely horrendous campaign in MW1, I was ready to pass up this like I passed up MW2. But after watching him play and seeing how smooth the entire experience was I'm ready to go out and get this game. I think the reviews are severely underestimating it and from what I've seen of the entire game (both single player and multiplayer) I'm ready to add this to my collection.

Don't write off this game just yet. Wait until the sales figures come in. Oh and buy EA stock now, the price will go up once people find out that this game has actually done well.
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Sean Rogan Freelance Journalist 10 years ago
@ Howard

"That would be horrific, if in the future FPSs are simply multiplayers with single player campaigns tacked on as a bonus." - Howard

I think you've misinterpreted what Lawrence was suggesting when he said the following:

"Who plays single player campaigns of a mostly multiplayer FPS anyway? It's more of an added bonus than an expectation - in my opinion anyway. " - Lawrence

On my reading, Lawrence was not suggesting multiplayer FPS games of the future will be multiplayer games with singleplayer components tacked on.

What Lawrence was suggesting is that for multiplayer FPS games - that is, FPS games focussed on multiplayer - single player campaigns are an added bonus.

I think Lawrence is right on this count - if there's a big multiplayer title I'm interested in, I won't be buying it for the singleplayer component the devs have added because they felt obliged.

Of course, this isn't to suggest that all FPS games should or will be focussed on multiplayer!
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Luke Child10 years ago
@Pete I think nearly every European would love to get their scrummy hands on the game on a world release date, still at least the benefit is that we can get to sit and watch the problems reveal themselves before we commit to a purchase.

As for the game itself I cannot really comment too much on it, since I'm strung for cash I won't be buying the game but a rent is possible. Still a reason for the reviews might be because of the done and dead concept the game is itself, I hear the game's singleplayer is quite good (Albeit short) but the multiplayer (At least during the beta phase on steam) seemed far too average and I don't believe it brought anything new with it. (COD at least managed to bring in the perks system which was considered different at the time, add to that it was one of the first modern warfare combat games on the consoles after the flood of WW2 games we had to suffer on the xbox and PS2)

Hell looking at the game head on reminds you of COD:MW2 and you can plain as day see concepts of BFBC2 coming through from time to time which can bring to mind that it was a cheap modification of BFBC2 itself. Still as I said I haven't played the singleplayer so I'll reserve my full judgment until after I've played that.

Either way I'll leave it to the professionals to land the final blow. ;)
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John Kauderer Associate Creative Director, Atari10 years ago
Many will see MOH as the Pepsi to COD's Coca Cola and you have to agree on some level at least with this iteration. I'm not sure how much it will or has effected the sales of MOH but in an industry overflowing with rampant fanboys you have to wonder. How could MOH have made itself seem more unique than COD? How could any FPS make itself stand out, and should it even try?

It's my belief that the controversy about playing as the Taliban is a factor (if sales are so poor it warrants a factor). The great irony is that you could play as insurgents in Battlefield 2 and nobody complained. I understand that EAs hand was forced by retail but doing things like removing playable Taliban may placate the mainstream press but it can also alienate the hardcore. The sad thing is the mass media folks who were so up in arms about the controversy probably won't be buying MOH anyway.

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Drew Dewsall Editor, Game4Anything10 years ago
I must be in the minority when I say that I want FPS games with a strong narrative. I do feel that this has been left to the wayside since online multiplayer FPS has taken over. I do think that there is a place for both but with the extra dev time needed to do both I feel that short single player games are the result.

I for one would like to see more single-player FPS without multi-player included. Unfortunately, it now seems that the mass market demand some kind of online with every iteration of the genre. It would be interesting to see how a game with nothing but a strong narrative, like the original Bioshock, would perform in both sales and review scores.
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James Anderson Studying Game Art & Design, Westwood College10 years ago
I agree with Drew, except that I would like to see co-op FPS as part of the overall multi-player storyline of future games, though hopefully a story not written on a napkin. However, given the choice of a napkin co-op multi-player or none, I'd buy the devs some Bounty.

On a side note, with the onset of superfast connections, are FPS LAN parties going the way of the dodo?
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Max Priddy10 years ago
Reviews carry way too much weight than they deserve in my opinion, I mean yes reviews do help but ultimately it's your verdict that counts, not the verdict of some "journalist" and their review should really be a smaller part of your final decision whether you actually get/enjoy a game or not. This current generation of videogames is a bleak one in my opinion :(
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 10 years ago
Playing through my review copy now and the low scores are junk. It's basically another case of too-jaded reviewers not appreciating the work that goes into yet another game. Granted, that's what happens when you have too many themed shooters over too many years all trying to be top dog.

Gamers and critics with no time for appreciating subtleties will miss out on how the campaign flows continuously (it may be "short" to you expert gamers, but not every player wants to blow through a game in one sitting) and how tough the multiplayer can be if you run in thinking it's a MW2 kill-fest. As for the story, the "back at the base" sections are a nice jab at generals and others who want a war to go their way, while the main game shows the actuality (well, in terms of the reality the game presents) of how things often go to hell on the battlefield, best intentions of the armchair types at home aside.

Anyway, back to finish up the last sections of the campaign. I stopped about 3/4 of the way through (I think, based on how the story is going). For those on the fence, RENT IT at least. You may be surprised that it's not the "dog" some seem to think it is.
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Jack Boats elitist 10 years ago
I don't think they should have backed away from the Taliban option. Dangling carrots in front of gamers is always a bad idea.
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Jamie Watson Studying Bachelor of Games & Interactive Entertainment, Queensland University of Technology10 years ago
i may still get this,but ill think ill wait for it to go sale,shame i was really looking forward to this...

but hey,its there first try,they can always come back with a better one right?
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Ankit Bansal Assistant Manager - Testing, iEnergizer Inc.10 years ago
This game is good for what it is. Yes it was unable to match the hype for the game but it is not really that bad as portrayed in some reviews. I finished the SP in around 5hr and throughout I was enjoying the game apart from some glitches (yes the SP is buggy). Most of the people putting up review is after comparing it with MW2 considering it a Modern world shooter but we should see that MOH is not COD. It is the first attempt of EA to bring MOH out from the WWII era and may be next series would be better.

Also the option of playing the missions in Tier1 mode after completing SP is cool.

Multiplayer section of the game is great and so is the lag management in game. I think we should appreciate the game for what it is and hope we get a longer SP mission next time.
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Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D10 years ago
I've got friends and relatives in Afghanistan. I'm glad they backed away from the Taliban.

As for the whole single player thing being an added bonus, the only time I ever play these games in multiplayer is if they have a co-op mode. So I hope the single player's decent.
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Thomas Sigrist10 years ago

You didn't say anything about the Mutli-engine. Because that's why the game was multi-studio. The DICE team doing the multi on frostbite. How do you think that is looking for us gamers? And in what time, 6 months? How can that work out? Doing the multiplayer of a AAA-title in 6-12 months? And you guy's wanna compete with the InfinityWard 4-year cycle CoDs? Joke?
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Alexander Khristian Project Manager, PIPE studio10 years ago
The problem of EA and Dice is that they sights on a pedestal of CoD. This was an bad idea. It would be better to Dice concentrated on some unique in MoH series and do not try to copy paste Infinity ward. Most of all agree that MoH full of copypaste from MW. The best example is Visceral games and their Dead Space. They want make horror but not copy of RE. And make awesome game.
P.S. All rewiever is too kindly for Moh i think. On my opinion game deserved 50-60 per cent.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Alexander Khristian on 14th October 2010 12:56pm

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Jared Mallia10 years ago
I was very keen on picking this one up, especially since it comes packaged with MOH: Frontline. After the reviews I've read (not based on the scores) I decided to not pick this one up when I saw it. It's a shame, because I think it would be a good game, but I just dont want to fork out AU$100 for it. I might pick it up when it's a lot cheaper.

But then this is not my only reason - I'm sick and tired of FPS's in general - most games that I own are of this genre, so I'm not even really keen on Black Ops. I was keen on MOH just because I haven't played it in a long time. It appears that this bear should've stayed in hibernation a little bit longer.
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Alex Loffstadt Community Manager, Outso Ltd10 years ago
We might want to look at MOH as a symptom rather than the underlying reason.
For a company of EA's stability a noticable drop in share price could be just an aberrant stat and the stock will bounce back or a wider trend.

Equities go up and down, it's the nature of the beast, so I'd be more interested in the numbers for the last 6 months or year to see how the shares are trending.

If we want to look at negatives on EA...

MCV ran an article earlier in the year about how EA had declined under present management, EA's big step into MMORPGs with Mythic and WAR was less than a marked success, Battlefield Heroes being bugged at release, Mirrors Edge being interesting but not earth shattering, EA and ActiBlizz going toe to toe after the fall-out from Infinity Ward, capped by MoH spending the last year courting controversy to go head2head with CoD MW and Black Ops and by the looks of it coming 2nd.

But they are a solid brand and the EA Sports titles are pretty much a guaranteed winner each year giving EA a buffer to experiment and take the odd hit.

Lets see how christmas goes, come back in 6 months and lets look at the shares again.
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Pete Thompson Editor 10 years ago
I like EA's games, I've bought a lot of Xbox and PS3 titles from their lineup and I have a lot of EA titles on preorder, But I honestly think the best thing they can do is to stop thinking about what the Call Of Duty franchise can do or is doing and concentrate on their own games.. Battlefield Bad Company 2 had snide comments about heart beat sensors which was a dig at CoD MW2, fair do's it made me laugh as I agreed with the comment, Medal of Honor comes with a flyer promoting the release of Battlefield Bad Company 2 Vietnam DLC, It could be said that someone at EA or DICE has a grudge or something against Activision or the Call of Duty brand, why else take a shooter thats got a storyline set in modern day such as Bad Company 2 and take it back in time by 30 years which just happens to be where their main competitors upcoming game is set..
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Zan Toplisek10 years ago
@ Pete: I think it's more of a throwback to Battlefield Vietnam released in 2004 than a "grudge" against Acti and their latest offering. It's an interesting way of looking at the move, though, I'll give you that.
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Private Industry 10 years ago
I would guess it`s because the original Battlefield Vietnam game was one of the best Battlefield games ever made and by far my favorite Battlefield game. Don`t think that has anything to do with a grudge just that the original one was an awesome game and I welcome the DLC to replay it with up to date graphics. Nothing was more fun than flying around with a Huey and listen to that time specific music :)

I don`t think the reviews are so bad 2/3 are still good reviews with 1/3 of the reviews somewhere in the middle. Reviews don`t say much about a game as example Halo 3 has a meta score of 94 and Alpha Protocol with a 65 or Mirrors Edge a 79 I enjoyed a lot more. I think there are plenty of reviewers that will ignore or not make a big deal about faults or not so good parts in specific games while they would make a big deal out of the same issues in other games, probably out of fear what big site would really want to give GTA 4 a 80-85 and have to deal then with Take Two. Still going to ignore the reviews like I did for Alpha Protocol and many other games and pick the game up.
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Zan Toplisek10 years ago
@ Werner: I'm the opposite of you - I tend to agree with the scores on Metacritic and find myself wanting to play a 85+ game much more than a 75 game, for example. We are similar in that we both enjoyed Mirror's Edge more than Halo 3, but I can see why the former didn't score higher and I acknowledge its shortcomings.

I, for one, will never try out Alpha Protocol because just watching a video of it makes me dislike the game already ( and I'm a HUGE fan of single-player games, especially the adventure types).
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Alex Loffstadt Community Manager, Outso Ltd10 years ago
@Pete Unfortunately snide comments, backbiting and practical jokes have a habit of turning up and all it does is hurt the industry.

Kotick vs EA and ranting in public
Manhunt Review blogs getting messages from Dev Staff in their comments
etc etc.

It's all very geeky, very juvenile and honestly hurts an industry which struggles to be taken seriously by the mainstream. Fewer jokes, and more professionalism would do the industry a world of good.

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Pete Thompson Editor 10 years ago
@Werner, You're right, Battleifield Veitnam was excellent and one of my favourite Battlefiield games aswell along with Battlefield 2 which had a few massive maps ideal for sniping, just seems strange to me that
they'd take a shooter set in modern day and take it back to the 70's in multiplayer only..

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Pete Thompson on 15th October 2010 7:33pm

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Private Industry 10 years ago
Well making also a singleplayer part would probably force DICE to make it a new game instead of an add on DLC and, while Bad Companies singleplayer is not horrible it`s still only more like the icing on the cake and not the cake itself.
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