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Medal of Honor suffers ratings casualties in debut; Electronic Arts shares down 6%

October 12, 2010 |  5:00 pm

Medal of Honor, Electronic Arts' attempt to reboot its 11-year-old war game franchise, is getting a lukewarm reception from critics on its first day out, driving shares of the Redwood City, Calif., game company down nearly 6% on Tuesday.

The title, the 14th in the series, scored 74 points on a maximum 100-point scale, according to Metacritic, which aggregates reviews from multiple websites. The score is considered mediocre compared with 94 for Activision Blizzard's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, released last year, and EA's Battlefield Bad Company 2, which scored 88 points when it debuted in March.

One particularly scathing review from IGN concluded, "With serious stability and performance issues on console, level design that tends more toward turkey shoot than firefight, and a story and characters that stumble in their attempts at relevance and pathos, Medal of Honor walks into a quagmire it never really escapes from."

EA's shares fell $1.05, or 6%, to $16.61 on Tuesday, recovering 10 cents to $16.71 in after-hours trading.

The company issued a statement after the market closed saying, "Critics' scores are highly subjective." Even though IGN gave it 6 out of 10 points, EA noted that review scores ranged as high as 90 points out of 100 elsewhere.

EA also suggested that scores were not the same as sales. "The game had the highest pre-orders in the 11-year history of the Medal of Honor franchise," EA said, although it did not reveal sales figures.

"This is an essentially big achievement considering Medal of Honor has been dormant for several years," EA said in a statement. "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."

Ricardo Torres, editor in chief of review site Gamespot, said EA is battling steep expectations from players who remember the first Medal of Honor games with near reverence.

"When you hear Medal of Honor, you have high expectations," Torres said. "People expect it to be special. And the question is whether EA was able to deliver on that. From what we've seen, the game is solid, but solid doesn’t get you very far today. It’s so competitive now that you have to be extraordinary."

The first four games in the franchise were able to hit that mark, but subsequent games have struggled to impress. To see a full list of major releases in the franchise and their Metacritic scores, click the continue reading link below.

Medal of Honor Metacritic Scores (out of 100 points maximum)

  • Medal of Honor (1999) -- 92
  • Medal of Honor Underground (2000) -- 86
  • Medal of Honor Allied Assault (2002) -- 91
  • Medal of Honor Frontline (2002) -- 88
  • Medal of Honor Allied Assault Spearhead (2002) -- 74
  • Medal of Honor Allied Assault Breakthrough (2003) -- 72
  • Medal of Honor Rising Sun (2003) -- 68
  • Medal of Honor Pacific Assault (2004) -- 80
  • Medal of Honor European Assault (2005) -- 73
  • Medal of Honor Heroes (2006) -- 71
  • Medal of Honor Vanguard (2007) -- 56 to 63
  • Medal of Honor Airborne (2007) -- 73 to 78
  • Medal of Honor Heroes 2 (2007) -- 73
  • Medal of Honor (2010) -- 74

-- Alex Pham

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