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Medal of Honor Airborne

Happy landings.

They say that E3 is always a crap place to get a good look at a game, but my time with Medal of Honor Airborne takes this to a new extreme: I can't actually pick the enemies out from the scenery. Such is the depth of rubble, and the density of similar colours on the textures that wrap the fallen tiles, halves of bricks and half-buried window frames, that I have to put on my glasses to spot the German movements further up the street. It's absolute chaos. A few seconds later I'm dead. And then it's back in the aeroplane for another attempt.

Airborne's headline feature is that you start off in the sky, parachuting into the level, and that this lets you approach missions however you like. Obviously, then, if you die before you've completed any objectives, you respawn in the plane and try again. It's a key distinction, because the death-rate can be quite high if you're gung-ho, or a poor judge of enemy concentration. In a sense, it also mitigates against the usual agony of death; here, if you're confident of your plan, you can target the same landing zone with a renewed vigour, but if you're sure you'll just die again you can try something different.

Feeling I was somewhat in the latter camp, my second attempt (glasses locked on), sees me arcing toward a cluster of rooftops. As I descend I can glance quickly over the city, which is vast, and struggles relatively little with the amount of fully formed houses, bridges and town squares it's rendering - so much so that it's hard to believe that Unreal Engine 3, king of the corridor shooters, is pulling levers behind the scenes. Anyway, I skid across the tiles of a church or something similar, which towers in partial ruin over a Nazi-infested street. Presumably a man with a giant bedsheet strapped to his back landing smack bang in the middle of a bright red roof is slightly conspicuous though, because in my exposed state I'm dead again pretty quickly.

There are several factors to consider when descending on French towns. Number one, does it have a Hypermarket?

The next time I benefit from a bit of instruction from the developer. The game separates hot-zones and safer areas on your mini-map, which also indicates objectives in yellow, and enemy troops in red. Targeting a safe zone proves to be the trick, guaranteeing a certain amount of reinforcement on the ground. Hotter areas have put me under fire from ground troops, or sprung me into buildings infested with difficult-to-see Nazis. I even had rockets fired at me. Not so here. Another benefit to this attempt is being shown how to land properly, cutting my chute smoothly just before my feet hit the ground so I can be up and running, gun-in-hand, rather than tumbling and then having to get my head together before taking full control.