Winning the Medal of Honor
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Sometimes reviews are just too easy. Such is the case with Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. Basically I can sum up my feelings and advice in just three words.
BUY THIS GAME.
Well, perhaps being the resident World War II expert, I should go into a little bit more detail. This is by far the best World War II game and possibly the best shooter ever created. Coming off of a few weeks of Return to Castle Wolfenstein, I thought I had met the ultimate title in this genre. But believe me, Medal of Honor makes Wolfenstein look like Hoyle Kid's Games.
There is one mission in particular that makes the entire game worth the price. This title would be worth buying if it only contained the assault on Omaha Beach, which you are treated to about halfway though the game. Only one other title that I know of even attempted to recreate this historic and bloody battle, the game in question being World War II GI from the now defunct GT Interactive. But WWII GI was terrible. Medal of Honor is wonderful. More about this mission a bit later.
MOH is the sequel of sorts to the Medal of Honor title that came out for the Playstation about a year ago. Both games even share some surprisingly similar missions. But the Playstation game was average at best, and there is just nothing out there even close to the PC title.
The graphics are realistic and better yet, historically accurate. Uniforms are painstakingly rendered right down to the proper placement of the buttons on the standard American-issue coat sleeves. Germans wear different uniforms based on their service, rank and unit, so its easy to tell an officer from an enlisted man - and aim for him.
This is also the first game to get not only the look, but also the characteristics of the various weapons deployed in the European theater correct. The M1 Garand for instance is very accurate in the game out to about two hundred yards. But get this, because the Garand has a stripper clip, unlike most weapons you can't easily reload it mid-clip. Instead, you have to fire off all eight rounds before you can jam in more ammo. And when you get to the last round, you hear the telltale "ping" sound as the clip ejects out the top. You can't get more realistic.
And yes, you can pick up German weapons as well. From the Walther P38, a favorite of Wehrmacht officers, to the MP40 Submachine Gun to the awesome STG44 Sturmgewehr, treat yourself to some spraying and praying compliments of your enemy. In fact the only historical hiccup I've found is that when you pick up ammo from an MP40 (which should be 9mm) is that the game lists it as generic "SMG Ammo" and you can then put it inside your Thomson SMG (which should be .45 caliber). I guess some realism had to be sacrificed for playability.
Missions are intense to say the least. Right off the bat you are given a routine mission where you are supposed to ride in the back of a truck and sneak into an enemy facility in North Africa. However, things go bad in a hurry and you and your squad find themselves in the middle of a firefight. You see your buddies going down all around you and have to engage in a running battle through the town.
What makes the game so intense is that the artificial intelligence of the bad guys is very good. German soldiers will hide behind and shoot over boxes, lean out doorways and run away to find cover during shootouts. Sometimes you will wound a soldier only to have them try to get back up later and continue shooting, which basically makes you very wary as you move. I often ended up putting a round into the head of every "body" I passed just to be sure.
The variety of missions you find yourself on is also impressive. Throughout the course of the game you will contribute to infantry assaults on towns, work the .50 caliber machine gun on an army jeep as you raid an airfield, drive a tiger tank, become a lone wolf-type sniper, participate in stealth missions with an OSS Hi-Standard Silenced Pistol, call in air strikes on hidden 88mm flak guns and disguise yourself as a German officer to sabotage enemy facilities. Each mission is so different than the last, you will never tire of the game.
But the best mission is by far when you are attached to a group of Army Rangers assaulting Omaha Beach. This mission seems impossible at first and likely you will be shot to pieces at first coming out of the landing craft. With you buddies screaming things like "we are getting torn to pieces" and "it's a massacre" all around, you will need to make it all the way up the beach to the seawall. Along the way you will see soldiers panicked and crying, medics trying to treat the wounded, and a lot of men looking to follow a leader inland.
It took me about an hour of fighting and sometimes dying before I finally got close to the German fortifications. But you are not safe yet as you have to infiltrate their trenches and find a way to clear out your section of the Atlantic Wall. And you have to do it fast, as the enemy continually wipes out each new wave coming into the beach and you need to save as many people as possible. Basically, the level of intensity of the Omaha Beach mission is what gaming is all about. Professional reviewers in the lab had to actually take breaks and walk away from their computers for a few minutes on this one. It was just too much to take all at once.
Multiplayer is of course a blast. There are seven free-for-all maps and about four objective-based maps that you can play on. Let me just say that all these maps are wonderfully detailed, like downtown Stalingrad, and have sucked hours and hours away from me in multiplayer deathmatches. I only wish is that EA or 2015 would hurry up and post more downloadable maps on their Website soon.
My personal thanks goes out to 2015 and Electronic Arts for showing me why I got into playing games in the first place. It's unbelievable how great this game is. If you have the hardware to run it - the minimum specification is a 700MHz Pentium III and at times the 1.4GHz system I was using would have a slow moment - then this is the game for you. If you buy one game this year, make sure it is Medal of Honor Allied Assault. And make sure you clear a long time on your calendar because once you start, you won't want to stop. After all, your country is depending on you.
John Breeden II is the Chief Editor of GiN. While a forward thinking man he admits to a fondness for older video games. You should have seen him at Videotopia. John can be contacted at : firstname.lastname@example.org.