Review by Scottie theNerd
"I didn't play. I volunteered..."
Medal of Honor: Frontline is the third instalment of the Medal of Honor series, after MoH an MoH: Underground. As with the previous games, Frontline continues with the World War II theme, this time with greater authentism than before. In previous titles, the protagonists Lt. Jimmy Paterson and Manon were involved in missions based on events that could have happened during the war, and some that actually did occur. Frontline offers levels based directly on actual events. The game also excels in other areas, which will be mentioned later.
The hype appealed to fans of the movie Saving Private Ryan with it's D-Day landing intro. Indeed, the first mission, ''Your Finest Hour'', is one of the best and most action-packed levels of the MoH series. Once again, you are Lt. Jimmy Paterson, but this time you are going to France in a Higgins landing boat in Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy. The level begins with a very dramatic cinematic of the Allied warships firing on German positions and landing boats approaching the shore. The influence of Saving Private Ryan is rather obvious, but the atmosphere is still intense with German artillery raining down on the soldiers and aircraft strafing the water. Your objectives are to provide covering fire for your squad, breach the barbed-wire and eliminate German machine gun emplacements, and later infiltrate a bunker and signal for reinforcements. Later you also take part in Operation Market Garden, a campaign that went horribly wrong in WW2. The prominent feature of this mission is the Nijmegan Bridge, as fans of A Bridge Too Far will immediately recognise.
There are 18 weapons that can be obtained in Frontline. They vary from the Colt .45 and Walther P38 pistols to Shotguns and Bazookas. In between are the STG44, MP40, M1 Garand and Thompson SMG, among plenty of others, both German and Allied. The game also boasts not one, but two sniper rifles: the Springfield '03 and the Gewehr 43. A quick playing tip: the German sniper rifle is superior due to it's fast rate of fire and quick reload, but the Springfield just sounds damn good.
Speaking of sound, Frontline also carries on the excellent orchestral soundtrack that made the first two games excellent. Fighting through the countryside with soothing music is a very moving experience, as is trudging through a flattened town in Arnhem with soft vocals, while watching soldiers die around you, still trying to fight. Moving on, the sound effects of the weapons is very realistic, as well as the German language your enemy speaks.
The weapon mechanics are certainly more realistic than previous games. Frontline introduces more authentic weapon reload times and recoils. For example, the BAR from the first Medal of Honor was a full-on automatic weapons. In Frontline, it's rate of fire has been dropped dramatically and it's stopping power beefed up. The sniper scopes can be adjusted manually, rather than automatically zoomed in like in MOH and Underground. The recoil of the STG44 can also be felt, and it's power can be judged consequently (for those who are not familiar with WW2 weaponry, the STG44 is a German assault rifle and the grandaddy of the AK-47. And we all know how much an AK kicks). Another nice addition is to perform a melee attack with your weapon at will. Previous games only gave the ability to use your weapon as a club after you run out of ammo. Frontline lets you do it anytime. Be warned though, the enemy can do it too. Get too close and you get a nice German fist in your American face. Ouch.
The character models are slicker and interact a lot more. Enemy soldiers now have to reload too, providing an invaluable opportunity to eliminate him while he's vulnerable. The effects of stray bullets on the environment can also be noticed. Grass flies up into the air, dust floats from a direct hit from a Sniper rifle, sand is flung out of sandbags...these are the small things in a game that add up and make the whole thing awesome.
Frontline also offers a new control system: Sharpshooter. Following with the late FPS trend of co-ordinated moving and shooting capability (as with Halo, for example), Sharpshooter uses the left analog stick to move, while the right stick is used to look around and aim. The fire and reload buttons are placed on the R1 and R2 buttons, offering an easier time firing and reload weapons. For those prefer the old control system from MoH, Frontline also provides the Classic MoH control layout, but trust me, it is harder to survive with Classic.
So, with brilliant graphics and sound, a great storyline, squad-based missions and game mechanics that actually work, what could possibly lower it's perfection? Like with all games, Frontline has its faults.
The AI in Frontline is nothing much to write about. It is average at best. German soldiers will respond to gunfire and will kick grenades away or throw them back at you. However, that's just about it. Frontline does not have the extremely intelligent and cunning AI of Halo (but we're talking processor capactiy here, so don't think about it too much). German soldiers do not work as a team, rather, they fight as individuals. This does not mean that you can walk through the game and kill everything without breaking a sweat. Germans will make life hell for you, especially if there's Panzerschrek squads or machine gun emplacements. MG crews will pin you down like a dog, spraying fire like hell. You can't run out and take potshots. You'd probably die before you get that shot out. The game gets more difficult as you progress. This isn't because the enemies are smarter, but they're stronger. This is one of my major gripes. At the start, a sniper rifle can easily take out a soldier. Near the end, German troops can easily take 2 or 3 sniper rounds and still continue to fire at you. It gets annoying when you pelt a soldier with lead, only to have them stand up and shoot back while you're concentrating on another target. This superhuman ability, combined with machine gun posts, means an almost undefeatable position. I understand that the PS2 cannot handle advanced AI, but the way Frontline makes up for lack of AI is no fun.
Also, the game's action slows down over time. The initial D-Day landing is fast and furious, but later the game degenerates into the same old sneaking round corners, sinking U-Boats and sabotaging facilities MoH that we've played before. The momentum from the hyped D-Day landing disappears, and boredom and frustration can settle in.
Apart fromt that though, the game is awesome. The inclusion of a Gallery in which you can view video clips on the events that the game was based on, as well as amusing behind the scenes clips of Frontline in the making, make up a must-buy game for the avid gamer.
Remember, you don't play. You volunteer.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 07/03/02, Updated 07/03/02
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