Medal of Honor: Allied Assault - Spearhead
It’s been a wonderful year for first-person action fans, one that has seen the standard raised a number of times across a whole raft of areas. It began of course with the release of Medal Of Honor: Allied Assault, and after three years of waiting, we could finally engage ourselves in a game to match the benchmark standard set by Valve Software’s Half-Life. Its developer, 2015, has since been hailed as the new Valve and it was only right and proper that before a full sequel was undertaken, a mission pack would arrive to keep our spirits up during the long wait and perhaps raise the standard still further. If Medal Of Honor was the new Half-Life, it must surely follow that Spearhead would be .its Opposing Force?
As with Half-Life's exquisite add-on, Spearhead introduces a new set of missions woven around those of the original game. Instead of taking part in the D-Day beach landings, you begin the game just hours before, 1 as part of an Airborne Ranger mission set to parachute behind enemy lines and hinder the German supply routes, making sure that when I the hour approaches and the invasion begins, Nazi reserves are unable to respond. Of course since your other alter ego is waiting in the middle of the English Channel to wade ashore, Spearhead brings in a new member to the Medal Of Honor cast, Sergeant Jack Barnes, voiced by photo-fit Hollywood villain, Gary Oldman.
From Front To Front
The action then moves on to Belgium, where across the Ardennes Forest, US forces are taking a winter break before the final push into Germany. Little do they know the Nazis have planned a desperate counterattack, spearheaded by their new Jadgtiger tanks and modified Panthers.
After the initial mission has been completed, our hero is then posted east to join the Russian forces as they encircle the shattered ruins of the Nazi capital, which Hitler has decreed must be defended to the last drop of blood. Here, among the rubble and up against the last remaining tanks and troops, you are sent to take part in the final battle outside the Reichstag building itself, where the Russians will raise the Communist banner to signal Germany’s final defeat.
Cut And Paste
They do indeed sound like a promising set of missions, don’t they? And even though they bare many similiarites to those of the original game, they feature a host of new characters and weapons as well as two new Allies to play alongside - the British and Russians. The problem is although there are plenty of new things to look at Spearhead is very predictable. For example, in the first mission you soon come across a machine-gun nest and you immediately remember that in Allied Assault as soon as you killed the gunner and reached the sandbags, a group of Germans would appear in the direction you’d just come from. Right on cue they do. The trick had worn thin already and I had only been playing for five minutes.
The pillaging of Allied Assault’s ideas doesn’t end there and it isn’t long before you start to wonder which rehashed mission from Allied Assault you’ll be tackling next, instead of looking forward to something completely new.
It seems to be the case that Spearhead's level designers simply took all the missions from the original game, cut them up into little pieces and glued them back together in a different order. Every step of the way there is a sense of de/a vu, and although Opposing Force was similar, at least there you recognised certain areas and events momentarily - you didn’t have to play through them all over again. Of course saying that, replicating the sublime atmosphere and superb ideas of the world’s best shooter isn’t necessarily a tragedy, and if you loved Allied Assault, then this will go a considerable way to giving you a thrilling WWII FPS hit.
A major factor driving you forward through the game is wondering what new weapons you’ll get to mow the enemy down with. It isn't long until you get to find out either, as you meet up with some British paratroopers who are more than willing to relieve you of your cache of stolen weapons and replace them with some good old British ones (as are the Russians when you join them later on).
Though there are no spectacularly outstanding weapons, there are plenty of them, and they are varied enough to all warrant use in certain situations, meaning you’re not constantly relying on the same one or two guns throughout. The choice includes a British revolver, rifle, submachine gun and grenades, ditto for the Russians, plus a new Sniper rifle and smoke grenades. However, it would have been great to have seen some new and exciting military hardware, like mines you could plant, perhaps a length of cheese wire to garrotte passing guards, maybe even a flamethrower or flare gun (and with Russians about, it’s surprising there are no recycled vodka bottles filled with petrol to throw around). To their credit, the developers have included some extra mounted weapons; mortars and anti-aircraft guns, which can be used to blunt an enemy advance or take out the odd tank, and the tension often raises to fever-pitched proportions as you try and fend off seemingly endless waves of enemy hordes.
Not Bad Company
The voice-acting is spot on, especially the British voices which are of a typically high quality, with the dry British sense of humour and stiff upper lip perfectly captured in the script.
The Al is again exceptional, furthering the high standard set by Allied Assault by making the enemy even more wily and unpredictable than before. German soldiers pop up from behind walls to fire shots, taking cover behind trees and holding back in doorways. They dart into cover, and best of all, run away if overwhelmed. They even lie down, which I think is a sneaky German trick they’ve learnt since the first game.
Interface-wise, the ability to lean around corners in the single-player game has also been incorporated from the multiplayer game, and since you’ll be hunkering behind trees, is a very welcome feature, and adds an extra tactical dimension missing from so many shooters.
But perhaps Spearhead's most exciting feature are the graphics. Despite still using the Quake III: Arena engine, id’s ageing code still manages to impress. The sheer size of some of the levels is incredible, with entire villages mapped out within surrounding forests. The landscape undulates far more realistically than before, and the days when we had to roam across flat featureless plains bordered by conical mountains are, it seems, over.
Whether or not you buy Spearhead will come down to what it is you want from an addon pack. Cynics will say that it’s simply more missions and extra weapons, but rather than this being hugely disappointing, there’s more than enough here to thrill you and replicate the sheer adrenal rush so masterfully created by Allied Assault. Despite the somewhat rehashed missions, the new environments and weapons provide ample incentive to keep marching through. Don’t expect to be surprised, but do expect to be captivated by the stunning backdrops and magnificent Al.
The Final Push
The sad thing is that had the developers had the time (it’s probably no coincidence this has arrived for Christmas) or the inclination to spend time searching for more creative and original ideas, Spearhead could have been the best add-on of all time. As it is, it's still an essential addition to Medal Of Honor, if nowhere near to a Classic. So lock and load soldier, there’s a war to be won, and believe me, you’re in for one hell of a ride along the way.
The Scenic Route
Keep The Red Flag Flying
ln reality of course, it was Communist Russia that dealt the final blow to Nazi Germany, but since Medal Of Honor is the official game of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, there wasn’t much chance of an add-on pack where you play a Russian soldier on the march from Stalingrad to Berlin. Instead your character is magically transported from the Western to the Eastern front, for no other reason than to give you a change of scenery. Still, at least the scenery is great to look at. Historically speaking, Spearhead’s final chapter is a joke - as if Stalin would let a capitalist Gl take all the credit for winning the war. Pah!
A New Mode For Your Modem
To complement Medal Of Honor’s already impressive spread of multiplayer options, Spearhead includes a new game type, as well a few new maps for the existing games. Tug Of War is its name and it’s based on the Domination/Assault style of play where each side must capture a number of points to win the map, of which there are five. One twist on the action is that your spawn points and that of your enemy can be destroyed, which sets up some quite impressive firefights. As usual, as soon as the servers go up we’ll tell you how it plays online, hopefully next issue.
Download Medal of Honor: Allied Assault - Spearhead
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
I was actually a pretty big fan of the Medal of Honor series and Medal of Honor: Allied Assault – Spearhead which was an expansion for the third game in the series is well worth checking out. I feel that much of the history of Medal of Honor appears to have been forgotten by many people. Which in a case like Spearhead is a real shame as it is a very well made expansion.
The Class Of Gary Oldman
What really makes this worth checking out is the story missions that it features. You play as Jack Barnes who is part of the Screaming Eagles Airborne Division and he has found himself behind enemy lines! The game has three different missions for you to complete these are, Operation Neptune, Battle of the Bulge and The Battle of Berlin. Each one is based on a historic battle.
Considering this is the better part of 20 years old, Medal of Honor: Allied Assault – Spearhead shows what made the series so popular at the time. The game has a very cinematic feel to it and the fact that they managed to get Gary Oldman to voice the main character really does give it an air of authenticity.
As this is not a full game and just an expansion you may think that there is not a ton of content for you here. The actual missions are great and more than enough in my opinion. But Medal of Honor: Allied Assault – Spearhead actually packs quite a punch with what it brings to the gameplay department. This is the same first-person shooter action that you know and love, but there are also many new smaller things added that make it fun.
There are plenty of new Allies, German and Soviet weapons that you can use. You now have the ability to lean which at the time was a groundbreaking feature for the series. The multiplayer aspect of the game may be long dead, but you can play with a friend if you want and it is actually way more fun than you would think.
I know that checking out an expansion for an older game may not seem all that exciting. However, Medal of Honor: Allied Assault – Spearhead is a very well-made expansion and I feel that the story alone makes this worth playing. It is very well done and has Hollywood like production values and I am super impressed with what they have done here. I do wish the multiplayer was still active, but if you are a Medal of Honor fan or have an interest in World War II then I feel you will get a great deal from this game.
Final Score: 8/10
- The presentation is wonderful
- Lots of different medals for you to try and earn
- The campaign is very well written and has great voice acting
- The length of each mission is longer than you would think
- Plenty of new weapons have been added
- The online multiplayer is dead
- It does show its age a bit
While Counter-Strike and Natural Selection are the most popular online games this month, Medal Of Honor: Allied Assault has always been one of the best multiplayer games going, and Spearhead comes fresh with new maps, objective-based missions and still more Quake 3-powered beauty.
The multiplayer demo comes with two playable maps and four different game modes, from the standard issue deathmatch and team deathmatch games to objectivebased missions. For veterans of the original game, you'll also find some new player models for both the Allied and Axis sides.
Malta is the setting for the first multiplayer map, coated in dust and rubble and gleaming in the evening light as you try and find good sniping points. You'll find a mortar on one side of the bridge, which can be used to clear out those riflemen that have already found a good place to hide. There's also a number of gun emplacements that while useful for covering the shallow river make easy grenade targets.
One of the most effective weapons in the new Spearhead arsenal is the smoke grenade. Similar to those in Counter-Strike, the Spearhead version is much more realistic, as it uses volumetric smoke to create large areas of cover. They're particularly effective on the Malta map when running through the various buildings, especially if you know that there are a load of enemies up the staircase and you need cover to be able to throw a frag grenade.
Set in a dark German U-boat base, Druckkammern is the second map that comes with the demo. The lighting here is superb and can be used to your advantage as the defending Axis force. Just find a dark spot and set up your player model in a black uniform and you'll be able to sneak around taking out Allied troops from afar with relatively little trouble.
While the single-player elements of Spearhead may not live up to Medal Of Honor: Allied Assault, the multiplayer demo proves that the online gameplay is very solid.