Medal of Honor (series)

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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.

Games in the 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
  • Medal of Honor (2010; a modern reboot of the series)
  • Medal of Honor: Warfighter

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 were 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. 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.

Tropes used in Medal of Honor (series) include:
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The first game. Mind you, Germany and France did have such sewers.
  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: Done very well in the reboot's 'Leave a Message' trailer.
  • 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.
  • America Wins the War: The first game had you as a member of the OSS supporting the French Resistance and the British. And, of course, you can also play as an American in battles where the US was not involved at all...
    • The events depicted in the most recent game are based -- with some liberties taken, naturally -- off of an actual operation that involved troops from Australia, Britain, Canada, Germany, Denmark, Norway, New Zealand, Afghanistan and the United States. All but the Yanks and Afghans are conspicuously absent.
    • Averted in Warfigher. Due to a global threat called PETN, Tier 1 Operators from around the world are tasked to stop it. Players are confirmed to return to Afghanistan and will also take on the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group in the Philippines.
  • 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.
  • Badass: Dusty, from Medal of Honor (2010). Yes, he's based on Dusty Hammer. Yes, he's on the cover art. Yes, he's a Tier 1 operator. But look at his baseball cap in-game. It reads, "FDNY". Was he a firefighter in New York on 9/11 who got pissed off and decided to kick some ass? God, I hope so.
    • Not likely. The game takes place in 2002, so it is VERY unlikely a firefighter at 9/11 joined the army and was accepted into Delta within a single year. It's much more likely that Dusty has/had a relative in the FDNY or is simply honoring them with his headgear.
    • Ahem. 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.
  • Badass Army: Medal of Honor (2010): The Army Rangers manage to be this while also being shades of Redshirt Army, presumably to let you actually have friendly casualties during the game without having to kill off any members of your various squads. That said, the fact that three Rangers and an Air Force Enlisted Terminal Attack Controller managed to go up against an entire Taliban village and come out victorious is Lampshaded.
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Dusty: "That's why they're Rangers."

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    • The Tier 1 operators know that they would have serious difficulty in doing the same thing and in fact, AFO Nepture does. Their focus is much narrower, based on speed, stealth and tactical exfil at the end of the day. Tier 2 Rangers are more focused on conventional warfare, and they're better at it.
  • Bad Boss: General Flagg, from Medal of Honor (2010). Not only does he seem dead set on not letting the commander on the ground run the operation, he's giving orders by teleconference from an office somewhere, in a business suit. What makes it worse is that he's just not any good at it.
  • Bag of Spilling: Weapons do not carry over between major missions.
  • Benevolent Boss: Colonel Drucker, who does his best to shield his troops from the General's micromanaging.
  • Big Damn Gunship: Medal Of Honor (2010): The AH-64 Apache attack helicopters going by the callsign Gunfighter figure in two of the missions.
  • 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.
    • It gets a bit crazy in the reboot, with enemies speaking at least 3 different languages (Pashto, Chechen, and Arabic), and those are just the ones identified by your squadmates.
      • In The Stinger for the 2010 game, if you are too caught up in the subtitles to actually listen to the two men talking, you might miss that the last line of their conversation is in English.
    • The enemies in Rising Sun and Pacific Assault mainly speak Japanese, for obvious reasons.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • Code Name: In Medal of Honor (2010), we have the two Tier 1 squads, AFO Wolfpack and AFO Neptune, Sgt Patterson's Ranger squad is Bravo One, and the Apache crews go by Gunfighter Six and Eleven.
  • Collapsing Lair: In Allied Assault, the player must escape from Fort Schmerzen as the whole fortress is rocked by explosions.
  • Communications Officer: The un-uniformed technician, Jimmy, who runs the communications equipment in Colonel Drucker's HQ.
  • Continuity Nod: The 'Leave a Message' trailer for the reboot mentions Jim Patterson and his family. Jimmy Patterson as many know was the protagonist of the first game, Frontline, and others.
    • The fact that he is Jimmy Patterson's grandson has been confirmed. The blog post confirming this also confirms that he is as Badass as his Badass Grandpa.
    • 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 multi-player 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.
  • Custom Uniform: Depending on the mission, the AFO teams may wear anything from full uniform and body armor to traditional Afghan garb or an FDNY baseball cap. TSgt Ybarra seems to have a custom uniform of his own, being the only guy in the Ranger missions to wear the DCUs, even though he was technically the only one wearing the correct uniform for the time period.
  • Crapsack World: When a goat herder seems unimpressed by a heavily armed man in a pickup truck screaming at him to get out of the road, that says much about Afghanistan in the Medal of Honor (2010) setting. The country is already torn by civil war even before the Americans become directly involved.
  • Death From Above: Medal of Honor (2010): Air Force Technical Sergeant Ybarra, whose job it is to fight alongside the Army Rangers and invoke this trope when necessary.
  • Distress Call: In the first game, the objective of the first mission to save a G3 officer who crashed and took refuge in the sewers.
    • Same reason for the bonus mission in Underground.
    • And AFO Neptune's distress call is the impetus for the last Ranger mission in the 2010 game.
  • Do Not Drop Your Weapon
  • Downer Ending: The reboot has one of the main characters captured by the terrorists. A friendly squad comes in at the last minute and extracts him and his friend, and the point of view switches to the injured protagonist's first person view again, as he keeps blacking out and his squadmates try to encourage him to hold on to life, as a rescue helicopter is coming. The audience expects him to get better. He doesn't. Cue white-out...
    • Also happens in Rising Sun. In the last mission, 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
  • Dramatic Irony: From the intro of the 2010 game, you can overhear a radio broadcaster saying "It's another quiet Tuesday morning in the Big Apple..." The next thing you hear is another news broadcast talking about a plane crash in Lower Manhattan, and how this must be a terrible accident...
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • During the War (World War II)
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: Whooo boy.
    • In the 2010 game, we have DEVGRU SEALs and their Army counterparts, Delta Force, as well as Army Rangers, an Air Force TACP/Combat Controller, and possibly two 'copter pilots from the 160th SOAR (Special Ops Aviation Regiment). In the Novelization, there's a SAS operator.
    • Warfighter contains a whole party of elites from all over the world. To whit:
      • SEAL (USA)
      • GROM (Poland)
      • SFOD-D (USA)
      • SAS (UK)
      • JTF-2 (Canada)
      • OGA (USA)
      • FSK/HJK (Norway)
      • S SOG (Sweden)
      • SASR (Australia)
      • ROKN UDT (South Korea)
      • KSK (Germany)
      • SPETSNAZ GRUPPA ALFA (Russia)
    • Specifically, the developers worked with ultra top secret Tier 1 operatives who were so closely guarded they had to wear hoods and be given assumed names for speaking with the press, and so dangerous that when EA was going to have a scene in the game where one of them dies without a hint of threat or menace these real life Rambos said, "That's our story and ours alone to tell": the scene was immediately removed.
  • Elite Mooks: The Waffen-SS 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.
    • Oh, it's portable alright. It's just really damn difficult to fire it standing.
  • Emergency Weapon: The pistol in all of the games, reserved when you had depleted your ammo for all other weapons. It was also selectable from the start. Despite being an Emergency Weapon, it is quite accurate.
  • Enemy Civil War: Underground's "Civil War Mode".
  • Fake Static: Late in the game, General Flagg is about to order Colonel Drucker to leave AFO Neptune to die rather than sending in a rescue team. The technician, Jimmy, hits a button and disconnects the General.
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  • 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 averted as the cutscene before this mission informs us that Tommy Conlin (the player character) received some limited flying 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.
  • Genre Savvy: In Medal of Honor (2010), a Ranger is sitting right next to the ramp in the Chinook as they're about run out into combat.
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  • Hyperspace Arsenal
    • Averted in Medal of Honor (2010) - You get 2 high-power weapons (assault rifles, sniper rifles, etc) and one pistol, as well as some grenades.
  • Hyper-Destructive Bouncing Ball: In the first game there was a cheat that allowed for bouncing bullets and bouncing grenades.
  • Iconic Item: In the latest game, Rabbit's Lucky Rabbit's Foot, which we get to see him pull out just before making any Leap of Faith and when Preacher is mourning his death.
  • 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.
  • Lethal Joke Character: The first game had unlockable multi-player characters, such as the German attack dog, a wooden toy soldier, William Shakespeare, two of the game developers, and a velociraptor named Steven, a Shout-Out to the game's producer. Their accuracy isn't affected.
    • If I remember correctly, the raptor could kill you by jumping on you.
  • Med Kit: Three types - bandages, "battle rattle", and a canteen in the first game.
  • Minecart Madness: The level "Enemy Mine" (no relation to the Enemy Mine trope) in Frontline.
  • Moral Guardians: Caused quite a flap that nearly kept the reboot from being released when it was revealed that in multi-player you'd get to play as the Taliban. The military went as far as to ban its sale in any military compounds, and eventually the developers chickened out and just copied Modern Warfare by changing the name to "Op For".
  • Multi Platform
  • Nazis With Gnarly Weapons
  • No Escape but Down
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Mother: "Bullets or broken bones? Bones heal."

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    • The end of Operation Repunzel, 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.
  • Nom De Guerre: The Tier 1 operators all go by callsigns, even when introducing themselves to other American soldiers.
    • Which they are required to do. Currently active SpecOps soldiers are not allowed to tell people what they do, as so have two personas: civilian and military.
  • 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.)
  • Not Quite Saved Enough: Rabbit; who dies just before the CASEVAC chopper lands.
  • 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 true to history, US military training stipulated emptying the magazine rather than trying to manually eject the clip and replace it with a new one, or topping off the half-used clip with loose ammo.
  • One-Man Army: In the first game, very specifically done as an agent of the OSS. You stop a prototype 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.
    • The 2010 game is somewhat more realistic. You still rack up hundreds of enemy kills, but you're in a squad, against mooks with little practical training, and when the time comes for more explosions, you have to all in other assets. In the end, all that happened in a two day period is that some of your soldiers died, and a lot of theirs died.
  • 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.
  • Real Is Brown: Many of the games.
    • Especially the 2010 reboot. Then again, Afghanistan is not known for its color palette.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Ben Crowshaw's rather well-known reaction to the G-Tower in Airborne.
  • Regenerating Health: In the 2010 reboot.
  • 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.
  • Scenery Porn: Medal of Honor (2010): It's a shame that Afghanistan has been torn up by war for so long, because the place looks absolutely gorgeous.
  • 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: Tier 1 remarks that seizing Bagram Air Base was pretty fucking ninja.
    • The manor house level in Frontline has an Evil Chef who appears to do a Swedish Chef impression.
    • Frontline and Allied Assault also recreated the Normandy landing from Saving Private Ryan. Reviews picked up on this and treated it as evidence of this being the game of the film, and is undoubtedly the Trope Codifier for WWII games.
  • 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.
  • 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 AI can shoot through concealment without difficulty. The Bridge is the other sniping mission, although you aren't sniped back.
    • Medal of Honor (2010) - Any mission where you're playing as Deuce of AFO Wolfpack, you're going to be equipped with TWO Sniper Rifles- a man-portable one, and a .50 caliber you WILL use. At least the .50 cal has thermal sights.
  • Sociopathic Hero: Voodoo in the 2010 game, a very self-restrained Sociopathic Soldier. Mother and Preacher seem to take some joy in teasing him about this.
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Mother: Way to keep your head, Panther.
Voodoo: Well, he was about a pound of trigger pressure from losing his.[1]

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  • 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 panserfaust.
  • Stereotype Flip: One of the game's first cutscenes is a passenger-eye-view from the interior of a pickup truck driving into a village in Afghanistan. The driver has a turban and a beard, and the stereo is blasting out appropriately ethnic-sounding music. Then the driver turns off the stereo and complains about your choice in music. Both characters are revealed to be American military personnel.
  • Stock Subtitle: Heroes.
  • Storming the Castle: Underground had Manon infiltrate an SS castle to retrieve evidence of the Holocaust, the only time in the franchise that the topic was touched on. 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
    • Ironically, the first game had no tanks at all.
      • Correction; it had one. That wasn't occupied.
  • 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.
  • To Absent Friends: The final cutscene in Medal of Honor (2010) when Preacher mourns Rabbit's death.
  • Truth in Television: Most of the campaign of Medal of Honor (2010) takes place during Operation Anaconda. In particular, the events of the final two missions are similar to the real life death of Navy SEAL Neil Roberts.
  • 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. There was not a single drop of blood when you shot an enemy.
      • Actually, while it's not real blood, in the early games and Allied Assault, I believe there would be pinkish puffs wherever you shot somebody.
        • Not in Allied Assault, it was just a smoke/dust puff. Among the Allied Assault modding community, Blood mods are numerous.
  • The War on Terror: The latest game takes place in the early years of the American offensive in Afghanistan. Though you are ambushed by IEDs on a couple of occasions, no direct reference to terrorism is made.
  • We Have Reserves: General Flagg, who insists on committing the Rangers and the 10th Mountain Division to fight in a heavily contested region rather than letting the Tier 1 troops do their job first.
  1. After Voodoo lost his temper and started shouting at a goat herder who was taking too long to cross the road.