Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault
World War II may have irrevocably changed history and traumatised a generation, but as far as the games industry is concerned, it's the war that keeps on giving. Arguably its biggest gift was the phenomenal Medal Of Honor: Allied Assault, the game entering our Shooters chart at number one with a bullet (or several thousand) and finally displacing the epic Half-Life. The inevitable sequel is well under way, and it looks like being a very different proposition. Having extensively explored the European theatre in the original and its brace of expansion packs, the Medal Of Honor universe is heading East, starting at Pearl Harbor, heading for Tokyo and culminating in the assault on the Tarawa Atoll at the end of 1943.
Pacific Assault senior producer Matt Powers explains the thinking behind this move: About a year ago, after Allied Assault was finished, the team got together and started talking about what the next full product was going to be. The big thing to come out of it was where do we want the theatre of operations to be? The more we researched Europe, we found there were a lot more battles and interesting historical places to go, but we thought it would be really more interesting to go to the Pacific on this next product. The first thing we did was to talk to our partners around the world to determine if this was going to be a good idea for the franchise. Is it going to be popular in Europe? Is it going to be popular in Japan? This was one of our big concerns.
Understandably so, as the Japanese attack on the American fleet is one of the more contentious areas of the conflict. However, the message back from Japan was that they were happy to see the game go ahead, providing it didn't bastardise the Emperor. So don't expect to see him appear as an end-of-level boss.
Keeping It Real
What you can expect is some extreme attention to detail, as the Medal Of Honor games are nothing if not exhaustively researched. Taking a tour of the EALA office is akin to visiting a WWII museum, the walls bedecked with maps, photos and paraphernalia from the period. As Powers says: The first thing we do is a lot of research. We research what the battles were like, we read a lot of books, we hire consultants, who come in and teach us what it was like to fight the Japanese. What were the Japanese strategies? What kind of clothing did they wear? What weapons did they use?"
It soon became apparent this conflict was a world away from the type of war being waged in Europe, and - as such from the gameplay in Allied Assault - something that was to have a marked effect on the game's development.
Theatre Of Cruelty
The Pacific theatre is a lot different from the European theatre, says Powers, primarily in terms of the terrain you're fighting in. In the Pacific, we're fighting on islands and in jungles, so we have a lot more terrain elements, more water, more foliage. When we started thinking about that in terms of our game design, we realised our technology's going to have to change in order to adapt to this new gameplay. In addition, we realised the tech we've been using tor Allied Assault, Spearhead and Breakthrough is starting to become a little dated for the PC. And when we're talking about PCs, especially first-person shooters, technology is a critical part of that audience and that feel. So with those two things combined, the design element and our ageing tech, we needed to develop a new technology. We did look at some off-the-shelf licensed tech out there, but we found they couldn't deliver our design requirement: large open environments, foliage, water, new Al, new collision, new physics."
It would appear to have been a wise decision, as from our sneak peek, the bespoke engine looks capable of rendering the game's complex jungle environments with considerable aplomb. Grass billows in the breeze, water ripples when disturbed and the assorted flora and fauna really feel alive.
The physics is also up to scratch, thanks to the integration of the de rigueur Havok engine. We were shown a bridge being blown up with planks tumbling into the water below, each displaying its own buoyancy as well as reacting to collisions.
Scripted events are far less rigidly implemented than in Allied Assault, with so-called procedural Al making for slightly different outcomes to events. And, of course, the obligatory ragdoll physics are in full effect.
As for the story, you are raw recruit Tom Conlin, stationed at Pearl Harbor, when the whole shooting match goes off. Tragically you are killed, and the game ends immediately. Of course it doesn't really, although that would be highly amusing. Instead, you face two hard years of brutal war, which if it doesn't kill you, will make a man of you, something that will actually be physically represented in the game. As part of a four-man squad, you'll actually be able to witness your buddies age, as their fresh young skin is ravaged by the horrors of war. Also, bandages may appear as appropriate, and they can even permanently lose a tooth.
This isn't an area that EALA has entered into lightly, and their location has helped them to employ the services of some of Hollywood's leading digital artists, with experience on films such as Shrek, Aladdin and Spider-Man. Their expertise is already evident, with characters boasting moving tongues, Adam's apples and even eyes that react to light. According to Powers: When players interact with other characters in the game, we want them to feel like they're talking to someone who's real and has a personality."
Pacific Assault will still be about action though, often frantic due to the Japanese strategy of banzai attacks, whereby everyone basically steams in with little regard for their personal safety. This is apparently a legitimate tactic, and one that the Japanese soldiers adopted if their leader was killed, preferring to die rather than face the dishonour of retreating.
As for your squad mates, they won't actually be killed but can be incapacitated during a mission and taken out by a medic to return patched up for the next battle. Medics will play a key part in proceedings, administering bandages to stem the flow of blood, something that takes time and leaves you vulnerable. You can call a medic for yourself or for a squad mate, at which point you may have to provide cover, as the Japanese show little regard for the conventions of warfare and will happily mow the good doctor down. If it comes to it. you can even pick up a mate and carry him to the medic, although we're not convinced anyone will bother with this sort of heroics.
Assault At Fault
As valuable as all these new features are, we'd be lying if we said we didn't have one or two concerns about Pacific Assault. Principal among these is that it will appear a bit tame in comparison to the magnificent Call Of Duty, which has now seriously raised the bar for war-based shooters. Not only this, but many of the levels seem a bit linear, which was excusable in the villages and trenches of Allied Assault, but is considerably less so in the open jungle terrain of the Pacific theatre.
Matt Powers attempts to allay our fears: Really, what it comes down to is Medal Of Honor is about the war and about one man's journey in the war. But it's about the quality of the gameplay, and we can translate that quality to any game we make. The Pacific theatre should be just as good as the European theatre." Either way, Pacific Assault looks like a decent stab at evolving the brilliant Medal Of Honor franchise, and the far Eastern setting should keep things reasonably fresh. Good old VVWII - just keeps on giving.
Download Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault
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"I've been here before you know. The beach, and... And... The shooting. The dead people, I remember them. That pier wasn't there last time though, and the graphics are certainly better. Yes, yes, it's all coming back to me now. I was here before about three years ago when I was playing Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. and now I'm doing exactly the same thing although it isn't half as good. Right-ho. Darling, did you see where I put my receipt?" What an opener! What a first level!
What a hook for the rest of the game! I'm being sarcastic of course; it's actually rubbish. The sad thing is that, deep down, Pacific Assault is in part a nice game with some lovely levels, shiny graphics and an only slightly wonky physics engine. When it's doing its own thing, using a concept known in some areas as 'being original', then it's an engaging shooter that may not turn the world upside down, but has some nice ideas and constructs a fair few memorable set-pieces. The thing is, it just seems so obsessed with reclaiming former Allied Assault glories and replicating (and then over playing) what made Call Of Duty so wonderful, that it buries itself under the mantra of 'More jeep chases! More standing guns! We'll pull all the same tricks they did, but we'll do them more often and we'll do them better'!
Only, MoH: PA never actually does them better, and it compounds this by swapping the grit, grime and stomach-chewing terror conveyed in Dawnville or Stalingrad for tamer Boy's Own adventure tangent.
Don't I Know You?
You see, in far too many places, Pacific Assault feels like yet another rehash of the same WWII game: re-copied and xeroxed into fuzziness and mediocrity. This (most stupidly) shows up the most in the earlier levels - the part of the game that should have been designed to grab you and not let go. After the perfunctory standing behind military beach furniture and hiding under piers in the first level, you get knocked unconscious and are whisked (well, not exactly whisked, the load-times are hideous) back in time to a boot camp level. Here, you're shouted at by a drill sergeant who's hellbent on teaching you exactly what you've already done in the first level in the most drawn-out and stereotypical way imaginable.
I swear, this game has got more introductions than The Return Of The King had endings. Even after this, you've still got the delights of more load-screens, some patriotic FMV and an endless jeep ride around Peart Harbour with some divot in a captain's hat to endure before you're allowed to have any fun. The assault on Pearl itself is a blast, but following this, the game takes an extremely long time to capitalise and present you with something that's actually new and improved.
In fact, Pacific Assault continues to stutter until it hits its stride a ' good seven levels into the Pacific, campaign, by which point you're deep in the jungle in the excellent Guadalcanal missions and fully accustomed to the eccentricities of your squad and the way the game mechanics operate. You're stuck under the helmet of one Tommy Conlin. and accompanied in your travels by some good ol' boys by the names of Frank, Jimmy and Willy (none of whom are quite as irritating as you might imagine). With these guys in tow (and sometimes a fair few more for good measure), you find yourself infiltrating Japanese bases and listening to distant shouts and rumblings as you prepare to hold off advancing troops on Bloody Ridge. You also find yourself running over airfields as countless Zeros swami overhead, trudging along jungle paths or waist-deep in jungle rivers and keeping your eyes on the undergrowth for the many, many ambushes that await you.
It's only here that Pacific Assault begins to impress a bit more on its own terms, regularly coming up with new objectives and environments that ensure that, even if you're not enraptured, you rarely get bored. Offence can be rapidly changed to defence quiet jungle paths can suddenly sprout shitloads (and I mean shitloads, this is a game that favours quantity of enemy over quality) of 'Banzai!'-ing enemies, and tables are often turned just when you're least expecting it. Here, in the jungle with lots of villages to snipe and fleeing soldiers to lead you into ambushes, there's plenty to enjoy even if the action regularly sways the wrong side of mindless.
One thing that Pacific Assault absolutely nails, meanwhile, is its healing system. Despite his bizarre prediction towards puking his guts up about four times a level (towards the start of the game at least), the usage of Jimmy the medic is inspired. If you're wounded, a brief tap of the keyboard informs him that you need assistance, and he then patches you up as soon as he can (or when he's magically recovered from his own bullet wounds). This lessens the need for obsessive-compulsive quicksaving considerably, especially because when you're shot to pieces, as Jimmy can reach you to bring you back to the land of the living while you stare up at the sky through the mists of semi-unconsciousness. That is. apart from when you're wondering where he's got to, and instead discover an angry Asian man jabbing your face with a bayonet.
Squad control too is quite fun: you have limited control in that, when the game judges it feasible, you can tell them to open fire, retreat, regroup or push forward - although it's true that these effectively translate to 'I know you're shooting things, please carry on', 'Where the hell are you guys going?'. 'I'm getting mullered, come over here now!' and 'Why are you back there?'. Squad mechanics are loose, and rarely used tactically unless they relate to your own health-bar, but they still add an extra level to an otherwise linear experience. That said, while Call of Duty generally kept you with your allies (because being behind a wall with them meant you were alive and going anywhere else meant you were dead), here it's too easy to find yourself fighting far in front of your homeboys, simply because you don't have the patience to follow their sometimes laborious pace or misplaced battle chat.
Stand Up & Fight
When it isn't trying hard to impress you. Pacific Assault is a fun blast, but it truly lacks the sense that you're fighting in a larger scale conflict, or even that you're fighting real people. When you get Banzai! - ed by multiple enemies, it feels far more like it did when fending off The Flood in Halo than crack Japanese troops, while your guns lack the weight and authentic crack of those of its closest rival. The Al too, is from the school of alternately standing up and sitting down in a nearby window, while the easiest way to clear out a bunker is to shoot the guy on the mounted gun and then watch the troops take turns to waddle up to the gun and stand directly in your line of fire.
Meanwhile, the mandate of 'More! Faster! Etc' means that PA is also heavily punctuated by 'roller-coaster' moments that have you either being driven around in vehicles and doing all manner of exciting things with gigantic guns. This is fine in moderation, but by the end, you won't want to touch a gun emplacement ever again.
This is a flawed game, and it'll be even more flawed in the punter's estimation in that it simply isn't Call Of Duty and never gets close to instilling the same thrills or emotions. But this isn't to say that if you can get through to the meat of it, there's nothing to be enjoyed - if you look past its faults, there's variety, and you rarely get bored. For proof, look no further than the bizarre turn of events that has you piloting a plane and going on bombing runs a few levels before the game's close.
That said, I can't give it an 'Essential' tag. Despite a few points of ingenuity that shine through the murk, there's just not enough reasons for it to be a must-have game. It's also not nearly as good as Call Of Duty. Did I mention that already?
Pacific Assault, the latest entry in EA's WW2 shooter franchise, is fast approaching completion, and is showing every intention of taking back the crown so effortlessly lifted by Call Of Duty last year. E3 gave us a chance to sample some single-player missions, but we also had a chat with multiplayer producer Matt Powers about the online side of the game.
"Medal Of Honor is known as the best single-player first-person shooter of all time. We want people to say the same thing about the multiplayer game."
Matt's key weapon in this battle is a new game mode called Invader. Smelling strongly of Enemy Territory, Invader is an objectivebased attack-and-defend game for two teams. "We've based all the scenarios on real-life battles," says Matt. "Generally, the Japanese are on an island defending and the allies are attacking."
In a first for Medal of Honor, Invader is also set to feature a full set of player classes, including corpsman (medic), combat engineer and basic infantry - again, strongly parallelling Enemy Territory. "We re integrating drivable vehicles as well," adds Matt. "It's not a vehicle combat game by any means, but vehicles are integrated in a few appropriate places in the maps." EA is also promising first-class community support, including stattracking, anti-cheat devices and maximum support for modders.
According to our 4 sources the multiplayer game is almost done, so expect a playtest soon.
You're witnessi ng a scene from hell: tracer fire is whizzing about your head; Japanese soldiers run at you, teeth and bayonets bared, screaming angry death; planes fly overhead raining bombs and missiles; a fellow soldier is cowering behind a wooden pillar too frightened to move; dozens of bodies float lifelessly in the sea. As the final level in EA's new WWII FPS Medal Of Honor: Pacific Assault, the island raid on the fortified Tarawa Atoll could be the series' finest hour, eclipsing even the epic Omaha Beach landings from the first game.
Pacific Assault is very chaotic, says EALA's product manager Ben Kusin. One of the most important things we've realised conceptually and put in the game, is that war is a manic, hellish experience. A lot of shooters are simple -they put you in a situation, and you move forward very quickly. However, in real war, bullets are coming behind you from the left and right, bombs are flying in; so you always need to have your head on a swivel, checking everywhere around you at all times.
Welcome To The Jungle
The sequel to the 2002 smash hit Allied Assault bravely moves away from the European theatre of operations towards the bitter fight against the Japanese in the Far East. As new recruit Tom Conlin, you begin your battle for survival at Pearl Harbor and end your tour of duty with the brutal assault on Tarawa, described above.
There's a reason most other shooters stick in Europe - the Pacific is very difficult to recreate, continues Kusin. You have dense jungle environments, with vivid colour schemes. The graphical intensity needs a big team, which is why we have more than 100 people working on it. It's paid off though, as we feel we're on a par with the Doom 3s and Half-Life 2s, although the game will be scaleable so we don't alienate any fans with lower-spec machines.
The visual splendour on show is demonstrated aptly by one of the first missions we get to play. The River Walk level had me and my squad yomping through beautifully realised misty jungle, teeming with different trees, flora and fauna, grass that flattens as you crawl through it, changes in light from the forest canopy, flowing rivers with varying currents, waterfalls, and tropical birds that fly off when you disturb them.
Yet the one thing that becomes immediately apparent when you play Pacific Assault, is that this isn't a straight run-and-gun shooter. You have an Al-controlled squad that you have to work with to complete missions, with an icon popping up in the right-hand corner when your captain wants you to carry out orders. Kusin: We're taking the game off-rails with our new non-scripted dynamic Al system that's based around morale. You'll notice this, for example, if your squad goes into a situation and kills the Japanese captain. Although there's no actual number displayed or anything, the enemy's morale would drop and your squad would want to move double-time and charge them.
In practice, this means a much more open and fluid push-pull' aspect of combat, with levels never playing the same way twice and events during skirmishes determining you and your enemy's battle strategy and mental state. This was proven in a later part of the River Walk level, when I threw a grenade into a formation of Japanese soldiers killing and scattering many of their squad. As almost a last resort, they suddenly performed a banzai' attack, running suicidally straight at my squad with bayonets bared, requiring a quick barrage of machine-gun fire to see them off. Even after the shoot-out, I had to carefully check the bodies, as any surviving Japanese soldiers will attempt to set off a grenade as a final act of defiance.
If you or any of your squad do get injured, then you're going to have to rely on your medics - part of developer EALA's wish to jettison some of the more obvious videogame devices. In the real world you don't just come across medipacs and rations when you need them at the end of a level or at strategic points," says Kusin.
It's now vital to properly look after your squad - go storming off Rambo-style into the jungle, and your Corpsman may well be way back tending to injured soldiers, leaving you stranded. Also, if you do get shot or hurt, it's best to take cover first before you call for a medic, or you may be asking the poor doc to risk his own life getting to your position.
However, if your health does reach zero, you'll experience another innovation in Pacific Assault - Verge of Death' - when you start breathing heavily, hear disembodied voices, and the world slowly fades to black. In this short window of opportunity, you could be saved by a medic, rescued, killed by an enemy; in fact a range of outcomes, depending on the circumstances. It's perhaps overly cinematic, but the Verge of Death is hugely effective in giving those desperate moments a real tension and a terrifying feeling of life slipping away from you.
I was mightily impressed (and slightly shell-shocked) after getting my hands on MOH: Pacific Assault. The EALA team is developing a WWII shooter that promises a huge range of different gameplay experiences, from epic island beach landings involving hundreds of soldiers and vehicles, through missions to rescue a downed comrade in dense jungle, to the tense seeking and destroying of silent snipers hiding in treetops. With a raft of new weapons and gameplay features, plus new squad-based multiplayer (see A Different Class', below), Pacific Assault could be a tropical paradise for WWII FPS addicts. We'll find out if it's mission accomplished with an exclusive review and playable demo next month.
A Different Class
Pacific Assault Introduces Different Soldier Classes To Medal Of Honor
EALA is planning major additions to the multiplayer side of Medal Of Honor with the addition of four classes of soldier Infantryman (basic soldier), Corpsman (medic), Engineer (demolition expert) and Ammo Tech (handles heavier weapons and ammo). As with other such online games such as Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, the most successful squads will have a mix of classes for a well-balanced team.
Also, in addition to basic Deathmatch and Capture The Flag modes, Pacific Assault introduces the Invader game type, where spawn points will move back and forth throughout a map. There'll also be instant server select and Punkbuster technology incorporated, to hopefully put a stop to the mass cheating that happened with Allied Assault.
Here's a little remembrance for you, lest we forget: Medal Of Honor: Allied Assault was a great game. We wouldn't play it in a fit these days, because it's been thoroughly superseded, but at the time it was truly marvellous - genre-defining, you might say. It kick-started the war-shooter craze that grips us to this day, introducing the celebrated movie-like set-pieces and ramping up the intensity to gut-rumbling levels. Unlike most shooters of the time, it shifted the emphasis from single-handedly killing your head down and simply surviving -looking out for your buddies, moving from cover to cover, shooting only that which popped its head up inadvisably from a fortified bunker.
Hopefully by now you know the story that ensued. The core of the Allied Assault team went off and made Call Of Duty, the others stayed behind and made Men Of Valor: Vietnam, and EA was left with a Medal Of Honor franchise and nobody to make it. So the company took the sequel in-house, re-imagined the whole series in the Pacific, and started again from scratch.
Now of course, the genre is thoroughly overcrowded. Call Of Duty, once the pretender, is now the genre benchmark: if Medal Of Honor: Pacific Assault was expecting a hero's welcome, it had better wise up. It's come to market very, very late, and now has a hell of a lot to prove - especially in the wake of the excellent Call Of Duty: United Offensive add-on.
After months of expectation, we've received some lovely single-player code for the game, and it's time to answer some of the big questions. What does it bring to the party? Does it do enough to justify its existence? Is it, to put it bluntly, an irrelevance? To settle the last one straight off - no, it's not irrelevant. In fact, it does a few quite interesting things with the war format, and with the right tweaking in the next month or so, could be a serious contender for your FPS attentions (after you've finished Half-Life 2 for the second or third time, of course).
However, we'd be lying if we said it was going to be the defining moment the first game was. From what we've seen, Pacific Assault is going to have to rely on last-minute polish to match Call Of Duty. At present, it just doesn't have the same levels of excitement, intensity or scale.
But don't switch off just yet. The game has a definite charm of its own, and provided you reassess your expectations, there's plenty to look forward to here.
Walking On Sunshine
For a start. Pacific Assault takes a different tack from Call Of Duty in a couple of key areas. While the basic gameplay is very similar -deliberately intense, highly scripted recreations of real- life historical battles, with a number of Al chums running at your side - the atmosphere is very different.
Most obviously, you've got the sun-drenched tropical setting. And I mean soaked. Some of the daytime missions are so bright and sunny, you actually think your gamma settings are screwed.
The developer has created a super-saturated look where the light burns out a lot of the detail and colour from the environment. It's an unusual effect, but striking once you stop fiddling with your monitor settings.
There's also the jungle itself. After the initial excitement of Tarawa Atoll (a shameless revision of Allied Assault's Omaha Beach mission) and Pearl Harbour (a short but hurricane-force conflagration), the game settles into a long series of jungle-based skirmishes. Unsurprisingly, the dense greenery has a profound impact on the way the game plays. Simply spotting the enemies through the foliage becomes a difficulty, and considerations such as cover, camouflage and surprise all take on new significance.
There are definitely a few problems here too. For a start, it's far more difficult to create walls' in the environment to delimit the play area, often resulting in glaringly obvious foliage corridors. A careless bounding box on a tree or shrub occasionally throws up an invisible wall between you and your target (very frustrating). Worst of all, the whole thing can simply become monotonous. In its favour. Pacific Assault does manage to keep the tempo up with a variety of action set-pieces. An ambush in a swamp, a village raid, an escort duty on an airfield. True to formula, you also get the occasional high-paced on-rails section - riding shotgun in a stolen jeep or manning a mounted gun on a boat, for example. Overall though, the jungle theme is a lot less exciting than, say, a war-torn village in occupied France, and the choice of location seems more suited to small-scale clashes than grand Call Of Duty-style affrays. Luckily, the game eventually moves out of the tight confines of the jungle and begins to climb to the levels of bullet-riddled ferocity we've come to expect.
One area where Pacific Assault does top Call Of Duty is in the area of characterisation. One of Call Of Duty's great strengths was that it didn't just represent the US role in the Great War, taking in Russian and British missions in equal measure. The advantage of that approach was variety (and historical veracity), but the weakness was a lack of identifiable characters and ongoing narrative. Here, Pacific Assault pounces, taking an active interest in character and working to build up the central figure of Tommy, the scared yet plucky young marine raider.
It's a real contrast to Call Of Duty. Where that game had an international flavour, Pacific Assault is resolutely American, portraying Tommy as a small-town boy who just wants to get home to momma's apple pie. Your squad-mates are also fleshed out to some extent in the grainy cut-scenes: the loudmouth leader, the bookish medic, the country bumpkin who's a mean shot with a sniper rifle. Despite the fact that they're oddly indestructible on the battlefield, it works pretty well, creating a real feeling of identity and comradeship.
At the outset, you're the rookie, fresh from a post-Pearl Harbour furlough and a few months' hurried training. You're initially looked on as a liability, the rook', and there's a genuine sense of gratification as you prove yourself to the more hardened raiders. Of course, it's manufactured that way, but ignore that fact and it works nicely.
An even stronger feature of the game is the new Corpsman' function. Rather than scattering health packs through the undergrowth, Pacific Assault introduces a corpsman or medic character that you can call on by pressing H' (for, er, Help).
It works much the same way as the equivalent character in a class-based multiplayer bout, except that this medic is actually obliged to come and treat you when called upon. Of course, there are some caveats. If you're in the middle of a blazing firefight, the medic may not be able to reach you (likewise if you stray too far from your squad). Your doctor's appointments are also limited in number, so it's not a licence to go on a rampage and then limp back for medical attention (though that's exactly what I did throughout, to my cost).
To complement this feature, you also have to patch yourself up on occasion. Suffer a serious wound and a loud heartbeat sounds, meaning you have to bandage yourself quick smart or bleed to death. It's an old idea, pioneered in ancient Quake mods such as Action Quake II, but it still works wonders as a way of adding tension to the proceedings.
Despite these extra keys, however, Pacific Assault definitely has a more arcade feel to it than Call Of Duty. It's less hardcore, a little more forgiving; it has a touch of the Boys' Own Adventure to it. It's not a criticism - anything that distinguishes the game from its rivals is more than welcome, but if you were hoping for a harrowing trial to match, say, Stalingrad or Kursk from CoD, you might be disappointed.
A Little Help Here
Unfortunately, in the present build, there are some real concerns to be had. The Al, for a start, is all over the place. It does display some high points, such as the banzai charges of the Japanese troops and the aforementioned Corpsman, but it's also worryingly inadequate in some areas.
One time, I was being stabbed in the back by a Japanese bayonet and my squad-mates just looked on, unconcerned. Occasionally, one of my boys would yell, they're flanking us'', but I'm sorry Jimmy, they really weren't. In fact, they were just floundering around being useless or bobbing up and down rhythmically behind a rock. The fact that headshots don't seem to count for much is also frustrating (and don't give me the I was wearing a helmet' line either Mr Samurai -1 shot you full in the face).
Other issues include an annoying cursor lag, something a lot of people have been complaining about from the demo. It's a small thing, but there's a perceptible pause between you pressing the mouse button and Tommy pulling the trigger, or indeed between you pressing R' and Tommy starting a reload.
Hopefully both of these issues can be addressed before launch, although that November release date is worryingly close. Thankfully, EA certainly has the resources to achieve a great deal in a short time, and if it can resolve some of these problems it will have a great little war-themed FPS on its hands. And that's not even mentioning the highly promising multiplayer game. I just hope for all our sakes that the game isn't rushed out - that would be to inflict great dishonour on the untarnished Medal Of Honor legacy.
Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault is more immersive history lesson than video game and I mean that in a very, very good way. The game opens up with you storming the beach on Tarawa Atoll with a bunch of fresh-faced kids, but then begins to flip back and forth to different times in your storied service. You'll go through basic training under a Marine-loving leather-necked sergeant whose performance is right up there with the drill sergeant from Full Metal Jacket. After basic, you flip to your first assignment in Hawaii on the day Pearl Harbor is attacked. And that is where it all begins.
The thing that is so amazing about these levels is the unbelievable level of detail. The attack on Pearl Harbor is particularly amazing. You will spend a chunk of the level tooling around in a PT boat attempting to locate your ship as Zeroes buzz down around you attack your ship and the city of vessels around you. You actually get to watch as some famous battle ships catch on fire and slowly sink.
The game doesn't stop with just amazing sea and ground battles. You will also take to the air as you relive and play through the famous battles of the 1940s pacific in some of the two dozen single player missions. The game plays mostly like the original Medal of Honor with a few twists; for instance you now need a medic to heal you instead of just relying on scavenged health packs and canteens. In addition, a new, realistic setting removes all of the game's on-screen displays, making it hard to judge your health and even aim.
The multiplayer mode includes three game types; invader, free-for-all and team deathmatch, and can support up to 32 players in nearly lag free play.
The game is on a DVD and seems to access it quite a bit for cut scenes, which really adds to the load-times, but it is worth it. The Director's Edition comes with an exclusive light machine gun, music from the game, a timeline presentation, interviews from actual veterans, propaganda videos from both sides and a behind the scenes video of the making of the game.
This game is a must for fans of history or gaming, offering up a blend of both in a package worthy of Medal of Honor's excellent reputation.