At EA's winter showcase event last week DICE's Patrick Liu took centre stage to reveal the first batch of downloadable content for the two-million-selling shooter Medal of Honor.
Imagine being an international rock star. The girls! The parties! The drugs! The endless interviews with videogames reviewers who demand you justify your latest adventure in corporate schilling and obvious choice of football team!
After months of controversy, Medal of Honor finally went on sale today. You know, just in case you didn't notice.
It was actually a beta! These days when developers tell you that they're doing a multiplayer beta, it usually means they're doing a multiplayer demo which you can only access by redeeming a code. The price they pay in spreadsheet maintenance is covered by the resulting media frenzy.
Greg Goodrich looks tired. We expect he's tired because he's flown 5500 miles to sit in a room answering questions about Medal of Honor, on which he's executive producer. His weariness is probably more acute though because those questions aren't really about his game - a cleverly scripted and interesting FPS that looks smart and inventive - so much as they are about the ground beneath its feet. Everyone wants to talk about Afghanistan. Just ask Liam Fox.
Danger Close - the developer formerly known as EA Los Angeles - has been adamant about one thing throughout its work on the single-player campaign for this Medal of Honor reboot: it's not about the setting, it's about the individuals.
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In all their interviews regarding Medal of Honor, the folks at DICE have been adamant that just because they've been brought in to create the multiplayer component doesn't mean it's going to be a clone of Bad Company 2. While that may be technically true, you'd be forgiven for thinking the two games were twins, at least.
Created using DICE's proprietary Frostbite engine, and now snuggled up in a beta test for PC and PS3 players (Xbox 360 has been delayed, but should kick off this week), Medal of Honor's modern-day makeover can't help but look a lot like its nearest genetic relative. Partly, this is because DICE is pretty hot at FPS multiplayer, and if it ain't broke, blah blah blah.
That certainly explains why the two maps on show in the beta - Kabul City and Helmand Valley - bear all the hallmarks of the Swedish developer. These are organic, sprawling locations, jam-packed with hidey-holes, rat runs and sniping spots that change the gameplay on the fly. They're fun to discover, and even more fun once you've memorised some of the more useful spots and start to lure enemies to their doom in confined alleys or bullet-hell bottlenecks.
Some people love music, others love comic books. Some people love more than one thing, and how they fit it all in their heads I will never know. Me, I love listening to people talk. Sometimes a game sneaks its way into the middle of that and I'll play it, but great conversations can make me love an ostensibly dull game and poor dialogue can ruin what might otherwise be a great experience.
With its latest Medal of Honor game, EA wants to show you a different side of modern warfare, and that different side - whisper it - has goats in it. You can't turn them into vehicles, though, and you can't strap Semtex to them and coax them towards trundling into enemy boltholes before obligingly exploding. I doubt you can even use them as cover. They're just trotting around the game's Afghan landscape, chewing grass, staring into the distance with that strangely sage look that goats often have, and thinking their goaty thoughts.