Review by Mr Bungle
"A pretty good game, with a few outstanding qualities"
Medal of Honor: Allied Assault is the PC installation of the fames Medal of Honor series. Like all of its predecessors, it is an evolutionary rather than revolutionary game. Expect no true innovations from this one. Onto the meat of the review...
Not bad... but not very good, either. I had told myself I would avoid comparisons to Wolfenstein in this review, but I must include one: the graphics are not as good. Explosions, fire, etc. look excellent! However, character models are only fair in comparison to other new games. There is little to no detail on any of them. Faces all look exactly the same, they even look blurry. By the way, my machine is a PIV 1.7, GeForce 3 64mb video card, and 512 ram. I was running it beautifully. However, another gripe comes in here. There are a FEW little hiccups of slowdown in the game, but this is acceptable because of the situation. Moving back, the animations are, in standard MOH manner, extremely good. German soldiers have unique death animations, etc. This very much helps to alleviate the problem of having absolutely no blood to tell when you hit the enemy. The weapon models in this game look rather bad in my opinion. All in all, I was impressed by the graphics in some ways, but thought that overall, they could have been better.
Sound, another MOH strong point, is incredibly good. There's just not much more to say than that. The music, what little there is of it, is very good -- but the lack of it is also a smart choice. On the Omaha mission, there need be no music but the cries of the dying, bullets whizzing past you, and officers screaming orders. All of these are very, very well done. However, I have ONE gripe that prevents me from giving the sound a 10... the weapon sounds are pathetic! The Thompson submachine gun, Colt pistol, ESPECIALLY the M1 Garand, and most of the other weapons sound pathetically weak! The M1 in particular sounds like a piece of cake dropping on the ground, not like the powerful gun that it is in reality... but besides that, the sound is top quality.
The game redeems itself somewhat here. The mechanics of the game are extremely good and fit together well. It's standard FPS fair. You get gun, you shoot bad man, he die, you pick up gun and health pack, you go kill more bad men. If you were expecting ANYTHING even NEAR realistic or historical don't get too excited here, though. The game has nothing to offer in way of realism. But the game makes no real pretense of being realistic, either, so that's not a real problem. Some of it annoys me, though, one thing in PARTICULAR: whenever you shoot an enemy in the head with ANY gun, even the mostly-1-shot-1-kill sniper rifle, you will do no damage but knock his helmet off. This is ridiculous: a steel helmet in WWII didn't protect from DIRECT gunfire, but rather from shrapnel, ricochets, etc. I can't stand it when I zoom in on a guy from 50 meters away, shoot him in the back of the head, and he turns around and opens up on me with his submachine gun. He should be dead, damnit! Sorry, I went on a tangent there. But anyway, the game is not realistic at all. However, it is also not the kind of fast-paced shoot-em-up-fest like Q3Arena or, to a lesser extent, Wolfenstein. It falls somewhere in between the sort of tactical, ultra-realism shooter and the 100 FPS kill-fest of Q3Arena. I think the best comparison is to Aliens vs Predator 2; the densely scripted sequences and gameplay is similar. Overall, gameplay is great. Everything is fairly well done. But it may not be the game some people expect... because nothing new has been done with this gameplay.
Single Player: 10/10
Truly, truly good. The first few missions really breathe some new life into a somewhat tired genre. The quality of the scripted sequences, the interaction with the friendly AI, the gameplay, everything fits together really, really well. From the very first few minutes of your Army Ranger squad moving into an ambush and fighting your way out, then meeting up with the captured SAS agent to exfiltrate and then go on a Jeep joyride through a German airfield, cutting up Stuka dive-bombers with the mounted .30 cal machine gun... the first mission is just incredible. The gameplay drops off slightly after the first mission, but then it suddenly flares back to its amazing quality with the mother of all WWII video game episodes: Omaha Beach. Strangely enough, few action games have attempted this historic moment. But MOH:AA tries it and gets it RIGHT... and I mean RIGHT. The Omaha Beach episode is one of the best moments in gaming history, in my opinion. It's just TRULY good. I can't really find the words to express how great it is... though very little actual spontaneous teamwork is involved (even if the friendly AI was that good, it would be impossible to implement due to the extremely fast pace of this mission), the scripted sequences are more than good enough. I could go into detail, but the episode really has to be experienced. I've already played through that one mission at least 10 times. The only gripe is that after this mission, none of them seem as spectacular--but they are still very, very good.
Good. Take your pick of objective-based teamplay, team deathmatch, or deathmatch. Objective-based is similar to Wolfenstein (agh, sorry for the comparison). I don't think the maps are quite as big, but does anyone besides me realize that at least 60% of all of the perimeter of any given map in Wolfenstein is totally unused and unnecessary? Cut that away, and the maps are the same size. Map design in MOH:AA is pretty good. Not spectacular, again. But good. There are not that many maps, though. I think maybe like 12 or so overall for all of the game modes. There's already a huge fanbase, I think about 2000 people, which is rivaled only by Half-Life in terms of popularity. As the game was RELEASED, many problems were apparent with the multiplayer. There was no in-game browser and cheating was rampant. These have been corrected as of a patch a few days ago, but I'm still knocking off a point for that. Now to the actual mechanics of multiplayer. Health packs are picked up from dead opponents each giving 50 health, which I personally dislike, but is not a bad or stupid option to have been implemented. You start off with more ammo than you'll ever use, which is actually more realistic than starting with nothing. The typical American rifleman carried 10 or more clips for his M1 Garand rifle, translating to 80 rounds at the least if he was well-supplied. The game isn't about realism anyway. The accuracy system is good enough. Good voice-chat system, but I'm still trying to figure out if you can bind individual voice commands as I like to do in my games. I like that you can pick your player model, which you can't do in Wolfenstein. There you go, RTCW fanboys, a clear piece of irrefutable evidence of something MOH has that RTCW doesn't. But I digress, as I have no preference between either game.
All in all, MOH:AA is, again, by no means a revolutionary game. It is very similar to most other big action games released in the past 4-5 months. But, it manages to do what it does well, for the most part. I have the feeling that even though I reviewed it more or less middle-of-the-road, people will be divided between either hating this game or loving it outright. I expect to see a lot of 3's and 10's on here, just because that's the feeling I have about the game. So, some of you may not like it and some of you will love it. I liked it.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/28/02, Updated 01/28/02
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