Medal of Honor: Allied Assault

a game by Electronic Arts
Platform: PC
Editor Rating: 7.8/10, based on 2 reviews, 5 reviews are shown
User Rating: 7.1/10 - 43 votes
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See also: Medal Of Honor Games, WW2 Games, First Person Shooter
Medal of Honor: Allied Assault
Medal of Honor: Allied Assault
Medal of Honor: Allied Assault

When Medal Of Honor slipped to early 2002, Wolfenstein breathed a sigh of relief in the knowledge that it would carry the award for Best First-Person Shooter 2001. Its reign at the top might be pretty short-lived though, as we’ve had news through that Medal Of Honor EBt to ship in the first week of ruary. According to Steve Fukuda, vel designer, the game proper is finished, and the team is now busy tweaking details, optimising the code and fixing bugs. Never one to give a development team an easy ride in their busiest period, we grilled him about how the Al was shaping up.

Steve told us t he Al is now up to a level where it uses the environment heavily to seek out advantages. "NPCs Currently throw grenades through windows, fire and manoeuvre, blind fire around corners, run for back-up and use cover." All of which woull be pretty damn impressive if theory is translated into practice.

We saw some evidence of this when we were over at the 2015 headquarters, and although it’s hard to judge the overall picture from an isolated incident, the NPCs show huge promise. In one section we were following a friendly agent who actually had the wherewithal to dodge through spotlights, pausing when in danger and moving on when there was a clear path. If this sort of interaction can be coded throughout then our expectations for the game are going to be surpassed.

The team is still being tight-lipped about the multiplayer side, but we have managed to glean that the emphasis is going to be on the teambased action and with any luck you’ll see Counter-Strike-style battles, along with co-operative squad-based missions. The multiplayer demo - as with Wolfenstein - is the one that’s going to surface first, on December 14, followed by a full single-player mission in February. And, despite the fact that the game hasn’t shipped we can exclusively state that a mission pack is already being worked on.

Download Medal of Honor: Allied Assault

PC

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

It May Well be the case that you cannot swing a medium-sized moggy about the place these days without knocking over at least a dozen precariously stacked World War II games, and the blame for this state of affairs can be laid firmly at the feet of Medal Of Honor.

We were an innocent lot back in 2002. Four years earlier, Saving Private Ryan had shifted the moral perspective on anything WWII-themed. Before, thanks to the likes of 'Allo 'Allo and Where Eagles Dore, WWII was either a non-stop laugh riot of comedy Germans and harmless xenophobia, or a blood-soaked action-fest where one US soldier was equal to about half the Third Reich and carried enough bullets in a single gun chamber to see them all off. Then Spielberg came along, showed war in all its blood-strewn, limb-severing, psychologically-traumatising horror and suddenly the goalposts shifted.

It took just one year for gaming to catch up, with a much trumpeted PlayStation title claiming to redefine the rules of first-person war gaming. It made something of an impact, but it wasn't until the PC release of Medal Of Honor: Allied Assault three years after that, that people suddenly sat up and took notice. The war game had grown up.

War Is Hell

For most the first indication that something was different was when the Omaha Beach video started circulating around the Net. There it was, the opening 20 minutes of Saving Private Ryan in completely playable form, unsanitised, unfettered and uncensored. This was to be something special - exciting and profound at the same time. The game itself didn't fail to match expectations and gave EA Games its first taste of true Hollywood blockbuster-style hits, propelling the now uber-publisher firmly into the big time. This was interactive war as we'd never seen it before - real, visceral and respectful of the real-life experiences it. was based on. This wasn't one man versus the Nazis. This was squads, comradeship, ammo counts, realistic objectives and atmosphere you could cut with a knife.

MOH scored big across the board and paved the way for the franchise it was set to become. Subsequent titles have sadly weakened the impact though. Console iterations seemingly dumbed-down the content to appeal to their markets, while the less-than-stellar Pacific Assault suffered at the hands of the rival brands of Call Of Duty and Brothers In Arms -both of which titles have seen fit to improve the player's experience rather than, in PA's case, merely re-clothe the same experience as before with more polished graphics. Ironically enough. Call Of Duty was made by the original MOH developers following their departure from the EA machine.

Real Combat

So Medal Of Honor, for all its glory at the time, hasn't aged well. Nonetheless, no-one could ever dismiss the importance of the title's role in creating an entire genre of WWII shooters that pay homage to war veterans rather than glorifying killing. To that end, the Medal Of Honor Allied Assault War Chest special edition contains not only the full game and each expansion pack, but also a series of interviews with real-life veterans, giving weight and pathos to your in-game actions. It adds a level of depth to the game knowing that the drama playing out in front of you is a direct recreation of the actions of real men, fighting for the freedom we in the West enjoy today.

The Sound Of War

Aside from the authenticity, MOH's other contribution to the shooter genre was its early attempts at adding Hollywood production values to your gaming experience. Nowhere was that better summed up than in the game's music Few gaming soundtracks ever make a genuine impact, but MOH's theme instantly burned into your soul. It's amazing how much power those horns and strings can summon, but to listen to the music now is to be right back at the start of the whole journey, breathless with anticipation and eager to fight on.

The kVor Chest pack contains not only the original soundtrack, but also that of the Pacific Assault sequel, some might say the best part of that misfiring title's efforts to extend the brand. Rounding it off are a series of detailed strategy guides for each chapter of the game, guiding you through each mission and showing you how to get the most from your experience.

But is it an experience still worth encountering? MOH has aged and not for the better. Other games may look, feel and play better, but every war starts with a single shot and no-one should ever, forget who pulled the trigger.

So there you are, crammed into a tin can landing craft with a dozen other GIs. Few, if any, will live to see another day. Your boat lurches over the slate-grey dunes of the English Channel, countless others alongside it, diesel engines choking through the waves towards the beach; pocked with craters like waiting graves, each guarded by skeletons of rusting metal and rotting wood.

Then the storm begins, sea erupting with artillery fire as you hear the distant sound of whizzing shells decreasing in pitch as they come ever closer. Louder, one screams nearer, destined to claim one ot the hundreds of small tightly-packed boats, the one alongside yours, throwing bodies and twisted metal into the air.

Like doom-laden warnings, columns of water signpost the way and as they fall away into the incessant mist the beach crawls ever closer, breaking waves calmly lapping the landing obstacles, dead bodies among them. As the boat reaches its final destination and lodges into the shore, on cue the machine guns open up, raking the water and pinging off the hull as quietly as rain on a window. A second later the ramp falls into the foam, the dead bodies of those once safe behind it helping it on its way.

So begins Omaha Beach, the third mission of Medal Of Honor: Allied Assault, the interactive equivalent of Saving Private Ryarfs first half-hour and one of the most frustrating, intense and replayable missions ever devised for an action game: Frustrating because you will die seven thousand million times while playing it, replayable because you won't care, and intense because despite the fact there is no one to shoot at for most of it, there is so much going on everywhere you really do feel part of what's going on around you. As you dart between the obstacles on D-Day's most infamous beach, you'll see soldiers being gunned down by heavy machine-gun fire, explosions ripping through entire squads and countless dozens of troops wading waist-deep through the water to their eventual deaths. You'll hear officers urging the others on, wounded men screaming for medical attention and even one poor soul with his head in his hands muttering to himself, no doubt having blown a sizable portion of his chocolate rations into his urine-soaked underpants. Needless to say, never have I had to replay a level so many times without wanting to put my fist through the screen.

You'll realise long before landing in Normandy however that Allied Assault is far from being a one-trick pony. The Omaha Beach mission, while by some degree the most spectacular of the lot, certainly isn't the best, not if you were to judge it on how quietly you can sneak around or how quickly you can aim and shoot. Getting from your landing craft to the cover of a bunker requires more good fortune than judgement, which is precisely what makes it such a refreshing change. But we're getting ahead of ourselves.

Medal of Honor tricks you a little at first. As part of a crack unit of US Rangers, you begin the game in the back one of two trucks on your way to infiltrate a German base in North Africa in preparation for the mini D-Day assault known as Operation Torch. So you're sitting there with your digital buddies, thinking to yourself how very Half-Life this all is, expecting to be taken for a ten-minute drive across the desert, perhaps even see a few credits float across the screen or Gordon Freeman sneak into a cave, when all of a sudden the truck behind goes boom and you're running into a German camp outnumbered and without much in the way of surprise on your side. From that moment on Allied Assault is constantly throwing spanners into your best-laid plans, little twists in the action that help keep you on your toes despite being safe in the knowledge that whatever happens, the good guys win the war. Whether you are sneaking around barrels or charging through a ruined village, you come to realise that absolutely anything can happen. Well, not anything. No pizza delivery boys turn up for instance, that would be silly, but you may be creeping through a rain-soaked village clearing the way of snipers, when all of a sudden you bump into a lost group of GIs pinned down by a Tiger tank. In another mission you are sent to blow up a field of anti-aircraft guns, then thinking you've finished and deserving of a commendation, dozens of stormtroopers come bounding through the hedges and take residence behind sandbags or lay down out of sight in a crater.

The surprises don't stop there. Early on you'll find yourself in the back of a Jeep firing at everything that moves and even anything that doesn't. Then there is the tank you'll find yourself driving around later on in the game. The surprise here isn't that you get to drive a tank - you can do that in dozens of games, more astonishing is just how damned easy it is to control the thing and again how it neatly breaks up the pace of the game.

Even greater successes have been made elsewhere when it comes to the interface. Throwing grenades has never been easier since pressing the secondary fire button initiates a short throw. Crouching and sneaking around can be set to toggle rather than having to strain to keep the keys pressed down, and considering the greater level of realism in the game as a whole, there are less keys to master than in Wolfenstein. As in so many other areas of the game, the interface and the movement is spot on - realistic, yet intuitive.

There are three reasons why Half-Life is still a great singleplayer game; It had a great story, it was full of surprises and singularly raised the standard of Al far above its contemporaries. On those first two counts, Allied Assault easily makes the grade and in some cases raises the bar still higher. There are of course no extraterrestrial monsters to contend with, nor will you have to worry about timing your jumps to insane levels of perfection or flicking the right switch, but to make up for such things Allied Assault features hundreds of Nazi soldiers to kill. And, like Half-Lifds legendary adversaries, they are a tough bunch of hombres, even early on.

The difference here is that there is no distinction between the German soldiers, be they in Afrika Corps garb or dressed in the imposing black of an SS Stormtrooper. Whereas in Half-Life you knew by looking at your enemy what strategy they would employ to try and eliminate you (a Marine would, for instance, lob a grenade your way before running to find his chums), here they feel much more rounded. If there is cover to hide behind, the guards will use it. Moreover, if he is being pinned down behind a wooden crate, a German soldier would rather fire blindly in your general direction than poke his head up for you to put a hole in it.

Chuck a grenade into a room and of course the enemy will run screaming like a girl who's just seen her first picture of a naked man, but if there is another way to avoid being blown to bits, they'd rather not run into your line of fire if they can at all help it They throw grenades of their own of course (and difficult to see they are too), but it's the fact that the enemy has a less than perfect aim that adds to the experience, although as you would expect, a German sniper is rather handy with his particular weapon of choice. The only completely predictable enemies are the guard dogs, which is fair enough.

But the Al isn't completely whizzer and chips. The most telling disability that the enemy seems to be afflicted with is poor hearing. In a great deal of cases the Germans will be reluctant to empty the barracks unless someone sounds the alarm and the sound of gunfire nearby -especially echoing indoor for some inexplicable reason -seems not to trouble those who might otherwise be polishing their jackboots. On those missions later on however where stealth is required, or where you might have to don a German uniform, when the alarm is eventually pulled the Hun practically come out of the woodwork. In those cases it really becomes a tense battle, as you find yourself cornered and a grenade floats into the room.

While most of the time you'll be fighting alone through Medal Of Honor's 20-odd levels, countless times you'll have Allies to fight with you. Most of the time they will be regular soldiers, but that's not to say they are of the standard of the usual conscripts to this type of game. If anything, the Al of your allies is more impressive than your enemy's, especially since you can't order them around. Aim your weapon at a door and your new friend will move around you and ready his weapon to cover the same area. Even better is that even in tight corridors, your allies rarely get in the way if you want to make a fast exit and if you run off they will happily follow you at a safe distance. In one level I was stupid enough to run into open space overlooked by snipers. Rather than follow blindly my squad held back, picking their way through the relative safety of the rubble rather than take my crackbrained route. Obviously I expired before they did. On another occasion I found myself pinned down by a machine-gun nest: low on health I was trying to crawl into the trees for some cover when my fearless companion charged forward and did the business. I was of course eternally grateful and lent him the use of my sister.

It goes without saying of course that you can make use of the heavy machine guns, and though it would have been rather enjoyable to get behind the antiaircraft guns and take a pop at a few planes, the weapons in the game are for the most part well implemented. The pistols both look and feel rather pathetic compared to Wolfensteiris, but the standard-issue rifles are fantastic. I don't want to appear all fetishistic about this, but my personal favourite is the US M1 Garand, supposedly the first combat semi-automatic rifle and far superior to the German equivalent. Of course, all the weapons are modelled on real-life counterparts and extend to include the trusty Thompson submachine gun, MP40, Springfield sniper rifle, the bazooka and the hefty Browning Automatic. Rather than running around picking up every weapon in the game until by the end you have more butts slapping around your thighs than Lisa Riley, you are handed out weapons depending on the mission at hand, occasionally chancing' across the odd Panzershreck lying against a trench wall. Additionally you'll be rifling corpses for ammo and health kits rather than scanning tor secret rooms filled with treasure, and again it all helps feed the realism while keeping the arcade feel. One nice touch is that rather than issue you with a knife, you can pistol-whip your enemies. It's of course of little use unless you're sneaking around, but again different to most games.

Additionally German guards will try and club you with their rifle butts and rather damaging to your health it is too.

Graphically Medal Of Honor is stunning. Though rather spartan on the interiors of buildings, there is plenty of detail all over the place, with plans and documents left on desks for example, or glasses on shelves and suchlike. Head to head with that other Quake 3-powered World War II game, we have to admit Wolfenstein just about shades it, but it's a close-run thing. There are some beautiful touches that Wolfenstein could do with though; the amazing explosions when shells hit the ground with earth thrown into the air, being one. Best of all is the whiteout effect when you're picked out by a searchlight, look into the sun, or run in front of a vehicle at night. OK, so it's no big shakes, but it adds a little to the atmosphere.

There are other areas Medal Of Honor excels in: The vehicles -from jeeps and half-tracks to tanks and fighter planes - are all far more convincing than in Wolfenstein, and though Wolf's characters are more varied and detailed in the way they look and move, Medal Of Honors rural locales are a great deal more enjoyable to explore than Wolf's pointy outdoor levels. Though Allied Assault's numerous characters all seem to have the same hamster-faced looks, that doesn't mean they're not worthy of closer examination. It's not something you'll notice at first, but under heavy fire troops will look visibly afraid, and if you manage to surprise a guard before putting a bullet in his head, you'll see the fear in his eyes as it dawns on him that he is about to become your latest victim.

I may be asking too much at this late stage, but this is something that perhaps the developers could have taken further. Going back to the D-Day mission - if you turn around in the boat, you'll notice how shit-scared the guy behind you is, so much so that you really do feel sorry for him. While it's an unexpected bonus to be able to enjoy such emotional attachment to a computer game character in a game such as this (minimal though it is), the developers could've made more of this by having that same guy be part of your team in a previous mission. Then when he eventually has his arms torn off by a random shell, you'll be even more wracked with guilt that you couldn't have done anything to save him. Ah well, maybe next time.

It there are any other faults then they are mercifully few. Cutscenes are almost non-existent -though you do get the odd CG mission briefing. The intro movie is pretty dire as well. But the biggest disappointment by far is that the game lacks a final mission to compare with Omaha Beach. Like me, I'm sure that it's the Omaha Beach mission you'll be most looking forward to reaching, and after it's completed you'll understandably be hoping for something similarly epic for the finale. It would be unfair to say that Medal Of Honor empties its magazine too early, but it's unfortunate that like Wolfenstein and Half-Life before it, the final escapade is something of a letdown, not in this case because it's a particularly poor mission, but because the game comes to rather an abrupt end without much warning. All you want to do after finishing the game is play more. A mission pack is of course in the works, but for me it can't come soon enough.

Thankfully the multiplayer game more than makes up for the protracted wait we'll have to endure. As per usual, you get deathmatch, team deathmatch and objective-based games. We have to say the two deathmatch modes are pretty darned good, even with just two people. Of course, if there are only a couple of players then don't expect allguns blazing fragfests: Enemy at the Gates-stye sniping is the order of the day here, and on those levels set across burnt out villages, they can be anxious and maddening affairs even though scores are unlikely to reach double figures. Unlike the singleplayer game you can lean side to side (and others can see you lean as well), and you can only have one main weapon to complement your standard-issue sidearm, adding an almost class-based feel to the proceedings.

Though not quite as heavily focused on teamplay as Wolfensteirfs multiplayer game, Allied Assaults objective-based games are no less exciting. The maps are far more open as a rule, and the Omaha Beach multiplayer game certainly gives its Wolfenstein equivalent a run for its money. We actually prefer Allied Assaults multiplayer game, just because it's easier to get to grips with since it's not wildly different to the way the singleplayer campaign works. No doubt in time some bright spark will add driveable vehicles to create a Tribes-like experience and we rather hope that they will. For now though, we are more than happy that we have a team-based lunchtime experience to rival Counter-Strike. Medal Of Honor Allied Assault has now set the new standard by which future action games will be judged. What it lacks in puzzlesolving and originality it more than makes up for in pace and action, and while most other developers have been trying to better Half-Life by emulating it, the developers of Allied Assault have instead taken inspiration from outside the confines of PC gaming. They have instead focused the action on the successes of the new breed of console-styled shooters like Halo, and even the ground-breaking achievements of Medal Of Honor on the humble PlayStation.

It is a stunning and invigorating experience, easily the best first-person action game since Half-Life and for me personally, a better all-round game than Valve's genre-defining debut We said in our 2002 preview round-up last issue that this year there would be a game to knock Half-Life from its lofty mount - I just didn't think it would be surpassed so early on. If you like, for your money you get the best bits of Half-Life, Opposing Force and Counter-Strike in one easy-to-use package, in a game that is far superior graphically and one that almost everyone will be able to relate to. But just as movies can't be judged by their special effects, so too it is the good rather than the great games that are valued for their graphics, story or Al. In this respect, while you can forever debate the worth of Medal Of Hanoi's various features, what you'll leave the game with are treasured memories of classic moments. In Half-Life it might have been seeing a scientist fall down a lift shaft, or the time you took down your first helicopter. In Medal Of Honor 'd will be being chased unarmed by a pack of dogs through the snow, running from a falling building just bombed by your own planes, or trying to throw a grenade out of a window, only to see it hit the frame and bounce back in front of tbe wardrobe, blow tbe door open and have a dead German soldier slump onto the floor. Moments like these occur in each and every level, and it is the mark of a truly exceptional game when you can recount them months afterwards. And you will, believe me.

We've been banging on about this for ages, but for the hard of thinking, here's a recap. The original Medal of Honor cropped up a couple of years ago on the PlayStation, giving Lite drooling console generation a rare opportunity to experience a quality first-person shooter. The work of Steven Spiellerg's Dreamworks Interactive, it offered a further outlet for his World War II obsession that memorably manifested itself on the silver screen in the shape of Saving Private Ryan. While MOH didn't quite scale such heights of apocalyptic bloodletting, it was an extremely playable game that is still worthy of a dabble today. Skulking, sniping, tossing grenades, taking out U-boats, penetrating forts, it was essentially every Sunday afternoon war epic bundled into a commendably authentic experience. The game garnered both critical and commercial success, and the inevitable sequel duly appeared.

As any fool knows, the PC is the natural home of the FPS, and it didn't take long for the powers that be to envisage a similar game that had the advantage of not looking like the crude daubing of a lower level primate, and in which the key exponent didn't have to be controlled by a device clearly not designed for the task. With dollar signs in their eyes, all it needed was a swift port to the PC, and the old rope would magically turn into money. Admirably, EA decided not to insult PC gamers' intelligence by going down that route, and instead commissioned 2015 to create an entirely new game from scratch, using the Quake 3 engine, no less.

It's In The Game

That game is of course MOH: Allied Assault, and it's currently shaping up to offer the ultimate World War 1I experience, without the inconvenience of death, maiming and lifelong trauma, of course. While remaining true to the intricately structured MOH universe, an entirely new story has been scripted, featuring a lead character that the developers consider to be more suited to the PC fraternity's expectations. Out goes have-a-go-hero Jimmy Patterson, replaced by Lt Mike Powell, a professional soldier.

As such, he is more than capable of handling a wide variety of military hardware, and during the course of the game will be given the opportunity to wield more than 16 historically accurate World War II era weapons. Throw in 20 enemy vehicles, including the drivable King Tiger Tank, Stuka Dive Bombers, V2 Rockets and various trucks and Jeeps through a number of missions, and it's safe to say he's going to have his hands full. Providing they're not blown off first.

Other treats include weather and time of day effects, and in common with the original game, a disguise mode in which you outfit yourself in enemy uniforms to evade capture. Don't forget to salute though, or you're likely to be rumbled, and subsequently slain. Something else that has been carried over from the first game is the extremely effective orchestral score, the work of composer Michael Giacchino, which will again be complemented by the award winning MOH sound design team.

Tin Soldier

But these are just words that could have simply been lifted from a press release to fill up space. What really matters is how the game plays. With this in mind we flew to FA's San Francisco headquarters to have a quick go. That's the kind of sacrifice we at PC ZONE are prepared to make to bring you, the reader, the latest in gaming thrills. Of course, when I say we flew, it wasn't all of us; that would be absurd. It was actually just me, along with a cross section of the good, the bad and the ugly of the gaming press. In fact, a more ill-suited bunch of would-be soldiers it's hard to imagine.

Here we are then at the EA campus, and I'm duly given an expert run-through of a mission by an elaborately-named American before being handed the controls and tossed into the midst of a war-ravaged town. It soon becomes apparent that people are trying to kill me, so I duck for cover and return fire, sending the stricken Nazis into a spastic dance before they slump lifelessly to the ground. Much has been made of the game's sound, and while the Spinal Tap-style speakers certainly help, there's no denying the richness of the audio, with explosions and screams of pain licking convincingly round the room.

Ducking into buildings, I edge my way towards the objective, a bridge that must be protected to enable a captured tank to roll into town. Pockets of allied resistance occasionally appear, offering the chance to get stuck into the Hun en masse. But orders are orders, and the bridge must be protected. Under prompting, I take position on the top floor of a deserted building with the aforementioned crossing in sight. It's essentially Bridge On I'hc River Kwaiin reverse, with a detonator on the riverbank, and a seemingly endless supply of Germans prepared to activate it. In sniping mode, I skilfully pick off their runs as the tank lumbers into view. But a transatlantic flight, fitful sleep, and some serious drinking has taken its toll on my co-ordination. Shaking like a dog shitting glass, my aim becomes increasingly erratic until one brave Nazi evades my fire and sets off the explosive charge, bringing the mission to a close and probably costing the lives of thousands. Bollocks. Thank Christ there's nnt a war on.

Overview

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.

Multiplayer experience

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.

Graphics

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.

Audio

The audio too is quite breathtaking, with weapon effects that make you flinch and an original orchestral score reminiscent of Saving Private Ryan.

System Requirements

Pentium II 450, 128 MB Ram, 8x CD-Rom, 3D accelerator with 16 MB VRAM, 1229 MB hard drive space and DirectX.

Bottom Line

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.

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