Medal of Honor: Allied Assault
You are Lt. Mike Powell a member of the famed 1st Ranger Battalion traveling from the battlegrounds of North Africa to Omaha Beach as you strive to crush the Third Reich in this historic first person shooter.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
Medal of Honor: Allied Assault is no Return to Castle Wolfenstein. In many ways it just doesn't stand up to the incredibly intense and ultra-realistic gameplay of the venerable first-person-shooter giant, but in just as many ways it trumps the id game in their own genre.
At its heart most gamers will find that Medal of Honor is very reminiscent of Return to Castle Wolfenstein, which isn't very surprising since it relies on the Quake III: Team Arena engine for gameplay. But that's where the similarities end.
When it comes to gameplay and interface, Medal of Honor leans much more toward the feel of Half-Life with cut scenes that flow effortlessly into gameplay. The first time I played it I took a couple of body shots before I realized I was able to do something about what I was seeing unfold before me. This constant ability to control, and in part, shape what you are seeing helps to immerse you into the game's already incredibly realistic world. Medal of Honor relies on a lot of well crafted and unique approaches to FPS which help keep the game fresh and fun to play; things like disguising yourself as the enemy, avoiding spotlights and gunnery towers, and gunning from a .50 caliber machine gun mounted to the back of a moving Jeep.
All said the game features more than 20 different types of enemies, four types of stationary weapons and best yet those interactive vehicles. You also get to play around with 21 historically accurate weapons, like the M1 Garand, the bazooka, and my personal favorite, the Springfield 1903 sniper rifle.
The game also relies heavily on squad action, placing you in with a group of other men. Computer controlled people who actually stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you shooting at the bad guys. But don't get too excited about this—unfortunately these helpers have very little artificial intelligence and their deaths seem almost pre-determined.
Actually this is one of the main complaints I have about the whole single player game. There isn't a whole lot of good AI. Far off enemies will continue to pace back and forth along a sidewalk or balcony seemingly heedless to whatever it is your doing, including shooting at them, until you get to a specific spot in the game, then they come to life. It's a far cry from the vocal and comparably gymnastic Nazis of Return to Castle Wolfenstein. I thought that game was a bit lacking in AI, but it beats Medal of Honor's AI hands down.
It's not really as bad as I make it sound, however. I sensed there were some realism and AI problems the first time through the game at a low-level setting so I replayed the first few maps at a higher rating and did purposefully stupid things. Amazingly it didn't get me killed. But play the game through once and it probably won't bother you that much. All said it should take you between 10 and 15 hours to fight your way through the game's 30 something levels.
This is where Medal of Honor truly excels. Everything I didn't like about Return to Castle Wolfenstein's multiplayer mode is absent from Medal of Honor. Where Return seemed to focus too heavily on the objective based match, Medal of Honor offers up that plus deathmatch, team deathmatch, and a round-based match.
For those of you unfamiliar with objective based matches, you basically are given a set of objectives you have to accomplish to win the match, like destroying a radio room and rocket. One side tries to accomplish them while the other side tries to prevent them from doing so before the time runs out. Personally I'm not a big fan of the objective matches as they typically degenerate into an encumbered deathmatch with players splitting half their time trying to kill each other and the other half trying to take or defend objectives. I'm more of a team deathmatch man myself and the way the maps are constructed in Medal of Honor they lend themselves to forcing teams to behave like teams instead of a bunch of people trying to kill the other guys.
A big, big, big warning to all: If you buy this game, the first thing, the absolute first thing you need to do before playing multiplayer is download the game's patch. For some reason the game ships with no in-game browser for finding and joining multiplayer games. Instead the game relies on Gamespy. So every time you want to play a game online or switch to a new game, you had to exit Medal of Honor, load Gamespy, find the game and then restart Medal of Honor through Gamespy. I can't, because of limits to the amount of vulgarity allowed on GameFabrique, say how very annoying this was.
Luckily EA must have realized this because they came out with a patch in very short order. The patch, among other things, tries to deal with lag issues and best yet, provides Medal of Honor with in-game match searching. Unfortunately the system, which does work on a basic level, is lacking in all but the most basic of details and still relies on Gamespy for its information. The biggest problem with the browser is that it doesn't appear to recognize whether a hosted game has the patch installed and a patched game can only play on a server hosted by a patched game. In the coming weeks that should become less of a problem as more and more gamers get the patch.
The graphics of Medal of Honor are truly superb. Fog obscures your vision, the faces of characters actually move, and nature seems alive. Truly Medal of Honor pushes this technology to its limits, doing the unthinkable—challenging Return to Castle Wolfenstein as one of this year's most beautifully rendered games.
The audio too is quite breathtaking, with weapon effects that make you flinch and an original orchestral score reminiscent of Saving Private Ryan.
Pentium II 450, 128 MB Ram, 8x CD-Rom, 3D accelerator with 16 MB VRAM, 1229 MB hard drive space and DirectX.
Medal of Honor is a first person shooter for all of those fans of Return to Castle Wolfenstein that were hoping for a realism lost in id's world of undead and demons, a game that relies instead on the real horrors of a war that cost thousands their lives and a world its innocence. Soaked in detailed graphics and nerve-wracking sound effects, this is a game for the hardcore gamer who wants to be a part of World War II for better or worse.