WW2 #16: Medal of Honor (2010)

Once-respectable series just couldn’t keep up with usurpers like Call of Duty

june gloom
3 min readApr 2, 2024

This review was originally posted to Twitter on October 6, 2018.

Wondering why this is on the WW2 list? Because it, like Battlefield, Call of Duty, and several other WW2 gaming franchises, eventually moved to a modern-day setting in an attempt to stay current. But they wouldn’t be here if the industry hadn’t been trying to piggyback on the popularity of late 90s war movies like Saving Private Ryan.

Initial release: October 12, 2010
Platform: PC, XBox 360, PlayStation 3
Developer: Danger Close/EA DICE

If ever there was an extremely cynical attempt to regain cultural relevance in the war FPS genre, the 2010 Medal of Honor is it. At least it plays fun.

Let me be clear: setting Medal of Honor 2010 in the early days of the War on Terror (specifically, two major battles in the war in Afghanistan) is tasteless and borders on war profiteering, even if the engagements depicted happened 8 years prior. I get WHY they did it: they saw what Call of Duty was doing with Modern Warfare (which depicted a fictionalized war with only slight resemblance to real world conflicts, going straight to World War III in the 2nd game) and thought, “we can show people what it’s REALLY like, not some Tom Clancy shit.” But Infinity Ward created a fictional conflict precisely because of the problems that arose from Medal of Honor’s use of a real one. Even the ARMA series, known for its realism, uses fictional conflicts (albeit one that reflect the real-world concerns and background of whatever era and region they’re set in.) Why? because Bohemia Interactive understand the problem with using real, ongoing conflicts. It’s one thing if you’re doing the world wars, or Vietnam, or even some bullshit from the 80s. But in 2010, the Afghan war was still ongoing, people were still dying in it; hell, when this review was initially written, it still wasn’t over.

So while Medal of Honor 2010 is a well-made, engaging game (an almost direct lifting of the Call of Duty series’ gameplay post-Modern Warfare) and I enjoyed my time with it, there is a clear ethical boundary that it crossed, and it shows in the military and veteran response to the game and especially its multiplayer. The multi was a thorny issue because it let you play as the Taliban. EA’s argument was that if you’re playing cops and robbers, someone has to play the robbers. It’s a logical argument to make, but this isn’t a World War II game where the Axis uses iron crosses instead of swastikas. (But okay, yes, there’s an argument to be made that playing as the literal bad guys of World War II is morally/ethically dubious. But that’s a discussion for another time.) The fact is, playing the opposing force in an ongoing real-world conflict is going to step on some peoples’ toes. And you could argue that nobody has to play it, blah blah cops and robbers, etc. And you’d be right. But it wouldn’t matter, because using an ongoing, real-world conflict to sell a game is simply unethical. In that regard, it’s honestly no better than America’s 10 Most Wanted.

In spite of all that, I can’t exactly fault the game on a technical or gameplay level. If you’ve played Call of Duty 4 or Modern Warfare 2, you’ll know exactly what to expect. It’s well put together, but extremely short. And everyone’s wearing the wrong uniform.




june gloom

Media critic, retired streamer, furry. I love you. [she/her]