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Medal of Honor - Allied Assault
LurkingAfter a long period of stagnation, war films are now enjoying an increased popularity once more, triggered in part by Steven Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan". Authentic war games, however, have been a rarity so far, with most first-person shooters featuring fast-paced action and tons of gore instead of taking a more realistic approach. Medal of Honor - Allied Assault also has this first quality, but adds the historical background and transfers the action into the year 1944, right before the landing of the Allied troops on the shores of Normandy (the so-called D-Day). Jumping into the role of Lt. Mike Powell, you experience for the first time the chaos that is war up front through the eyes of a soldier. Out of respect for the tragical historic events, 2015 deliberately abstained from displaying any blood effects, showing that Medal of Honor treads new paths in more than one way - but first things first.
Graphics & sound:
FranceThe 3D graphics are based on the popular Quake III engine and have been considerably enhanced. Instead of colorful fantasy levels, you can expect surprisingly detailed environments in countries such as Morocco, France or Norway, that convey the feeling of actually being there. Above all the landing at Omaha Beach and the devestated street levels in Normandy will remind you of scenes seen in "Private Ryan". The characters have been animated smoothly enough and thanks to the detailed textures you can easily differentiate your opponents from afar. Even snow, rain and tremendous explosions are no problem for the engine. The developers paid particular attention to the first-rate sound effects that ranges from quiet to military tunes. Every weapon issues their own sound and the voice-overs are of excellent quality (the English version features German-speaking villains).
Gaming in times of war:
U-boat baseMedal of Honor has no real story - in the role of Lt. Mike Powell you rather propel the story through your own actions. Spanning six loosely linked missions, each divided into several submissions, you fight in the Allied army against the Axis forces. Apart from the short briefing that initiates every mission, the program lacks any cutscenes (the intro excluded). After a brief tutorial, you're thrown into the middle of the action, but fortunately you're accompanied by a handful of comrades. Unfortunately, though, your virtual co-fighters have suicidal tendencies every now and then, running directly into the enemy's line of fire. But in general, the opponents' AI performs well enough, as enemies seek cover when under fire, call for help, or fire at random out of secure positions. Most of the missions require your accomlishing several tasks that entail, for example, stealing secret documents, spying on new weapon technologies or destroying such novel weaponry. MOH offers plenty of action, but behaving like a berserk will get you nowhere - too numerous are your opponents and too deadly are the enemy snipers. At some points in the game you can use stationary machine guns, and during one mission you can lay waste to a French village with the help of a stolen German tank. A more subtle approach is only rarely needed, e.g. when infiltrating a German base in the guise of a German officer where you merely have to flash the corresponding papers when asked to do so.
Geared up for battle:
Omaha BeachThe levels were designed with a great love for detail, although they lack some interaction with objects in the environment. The game's highlight is, no doubt, the landing of Allied troops on the shores of Normandy. With almost frightening intensity, the game lets you replay the historical mission - as soon as the gate of the landing craft opens, hell breaks loose in the form of heavy enemy MG fire. You literally die a thousand deaths before reaching the shore, and you are surrounded by rattling guns, explosions und dying comrades. Also the other levels set in France could have been taken from "Saving Private Ryan". Snipers lurk in den gray, bombed out streets and you're faced with lots of smaller skirmishes.
To survive in such a hostile scenario, you can choose from a range of historic weapons, among them a silenced pistol, the Thompson machine-gun, two different kind of grenades, and the highly important sniper rifle. The rightly dubbed "Panzerschreck" helps you "scare off" enemy tanks. Every weapons needs a different kind of ammunition and has to be reloaded - especially the grenade launcher and sniper rifle take you precious seconds to reload. However, scattered first-aid kits prevent that you enter the afterlife all too soon. A small compass in the upper left corner shows you the direction where the next tasks is located, making an automap in the face of quite linear levels redundant.

Demo version


very good

very good


very good

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Pros & cons:
NorwayDespite the serious backdrop, Medal of Honor is pure fun, even though the program isn't completely free of minor design glitches. The linear missions won't take you terribly long to accomplish, and only a couple of hours later you will see the extro. But the game's "extro" doesn't live up to the word's meaning - a simple black screen with the succinct statement "The end" finishes the game and you off. The lack of any real cutscenes and the somewhat interaction-free levels curb a part of the otherwise dense atmosphere, which is mostly generated by the accurate locations and the excellent sound effects. The historically inspired scenario even manages to give you the creeps at times, although the AI could have been a wee little bit more sophisticated.
Nevertheless, Medal of Honor lets you enjoy one of the most intense FPS experiences in months. The multiplayer mode as well as the level editor will keep your interested in the game even after you've mastered the single-player campaign. What's also noteworthy is that the game doesn't wallow in any pointless gore effects and mutilation animations that can be found in similar titles of the genre. But that doesn't necessarily make Medal of Honor the first choice for younger players, as you don't fight against incoming hordes of saliva-dripping aliens but against "real" opponents. If you're interested in 3D action games and in replaying "Saving Private Ryan" from a safe distance, then Medal of Honor will be a game to your liking.
© 04-16-2002 by CE