Medal of Honor: Allied Assault

a game by Electronic Arts
Platform: PC
Editor Rating: 7.8/10, based on 2 reviews
User Rating: 4.0/10 - 4 votes
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See also: Medal Of Honor Games

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.

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Game Reviews

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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