Fantastic, intense missions in new Medal of Honor

Setting a first-person shooter in an active war zone in real life raises questions about making entertainment out of a conflict that’s still claiming lives.

Medal of Honor

Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC

Genre: Shooter Publisher: EA Games

Rating: M, for Mature

Grade: 4 stars (out of 5)

Setting a first-person shooter in an active war zone in real life raises questions about making entertainment out of a conflict that’s still claiming lives. This shouldn’t necessarily cloud your enjoyment of the new Medal of Honor, but it’s hard not to think about.

The release is divided into two games, because one developer handled the single-player mode and another the multiplayer mode. Unfortunately for the overall package, the games don’t mesh well, although both are excellent in their own right.

The single-player mode offers a fantastic, intense series of missions. You’ll engage in missions bearing a striking resemblance to actual events. The encounters set in the mountains make your heart race, whether you’re doing door-to-door hunts in a small village or manning an Apache helicopter.

Things shift when you go into multiplayer mode online. There are fantastic modes to play, and the types of matches you can get into certainly give perennial superstar Call of Duty a run for its money. You can’t ignore the quandary of online gamers playing as the Taliban, but somebody has to be the enemy.

Somehow the game stays apolitical. It doesn’t force you to make decisions on whether war is right.

NBA 2K11

Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, PSP, PS2

Genre: Sports Publisher: 2K Sports

Rating: E, for Everyone

Grade: 3.5 stars

The focus of this year’s NBA from 2K Sports is on Michael Jordan, who hasn’t played in a Chicago Bulls uniform in more than a decade. I saw him several times when he was on the Washington Wizards, and we D.C. fans wince recalling those days.

But whether you loved or hated No. 23, focusing on him could overshadow an otherwise stellar sports game.

NBA 2K11 presents the most fluid basketball game to date.

Instead of picking the best player and running isolation plays, now you have to actually run some set plays to create open looks. It’s amazing how NBA 2K11 plays a great game yet reminds you how lacking the real NBA is in fundamentals.

On defense, artificial-intelligence-controlled teams are much quicker to intercept passing lanes and double-team you.

Ten classic Jordan games are there to play, but your goal is to match (or best) certain statistical goals, and it’s harder than you might think.

You likely will have to skip the five-minute quarters and play a full-length game, but if you fail at even one of the goals, you have to restart the game.

Follow Chris Campbell at twitter.com/campbler or e-mail him at game—on—games@mac.com