Review by HJerng

"Two Steps Forward and One Step Back"

The original Medal of Honor (MOH) on PSX deservedly stands as an outstanding achievement in first-person shooters (FPS), rendering it nearly an instant classic. In the good-vs-evil struggle against Nazi Germany of WWII, the game combined excellent balance between plot and gameplay, friendly and tight controls, realistic enemy AI, varied missions, and an awesome soundtrack to produce a one-player FPS experience unmatched before its time. Most critical is the fact that MOH perfectly captured the sense of urgency and realism of war, which brought it accolades even from the veterns groups.

MOH's success first spawned the admirable sequel MOH: Underground for the PSX. Underground added some minor graphical improvements, excessive AI, more intense mission scenarios, and a stronger 2-player mode. Then MOH: Allied Assault on the PC gave a glimpse of what MOH would look like with some serious processing and graphic improvements, along with even more realistic war scenarios (D-Day beach landing) and unfortunately toned-down enemy response and AI.
So now, how does MOH: Frontline measure up to its predecessors?

GRAPHICS: first you see
For those of you who played Allied Assault, Frontline's graphics will be nothing to write home about. Lower texture resolution and lower polygon count combine to result in less-crisp, slightly smeared look. For the console folks, I'm happy to say that Frontline is a great graphical improvement over the PSX versions.

CONTROLS: then you play
Bad EA. Bad. What EA calls ''Classic MOH Configuration'' really isn't. So, for those of us old timers will have to use the custom configuration to make one we're comfortable with. Frustrations and anger will lessen as you get more familiar with the new control scheme.
One thing that was added to Frontline is the shakiness to your aim if you waited too long to shoot. Realistic, perhaps, but certainly annoying considering the analog stick isn't the perfect vehicle for user interface and Frontline's loose controls. Yes, you will be fumbling from time to time to get your aim right, even more than the PSX versions.

SOUNDTRACK & SOUND EFFECTS: good audio overload
Thanks to Michael Giacchino's original soundtrack (especially appreciated since most of Allied Assault's soundtrack was rehashed from the earlier MOH), the game will get you rocking. Sound effects are crisp and on the spot. In this department, EA has gotten it pretty much perfect.

GAMEPLAY: why we should or shouldn't get the game
This is an area that the Frontline team sort of stumbled. First, the bad news. The game's framerate is inadequate to keep up with rapid movements, and the interlacing of images gets spotty enough that in some players headaches or discomfort can be induced. This and the slight aiming problems leave a slight bad taste.
Then, the enemy AI has dropped further since MOH: Allied Assault. Nearly always enemies can be killed with just one shot, and the variety of responses isn't terribly high. Enemy animations uses fairly low number of frames, causing some slight lose of realism. Then, their bodies just disappear right before your eyes...
With all this bad news, there's some good news to report. The missions variety has been cranked up, thanks to the increased processing power. And the little details the EA team added helps to bring you into the game, details like scenes involving computer characters and damageable items (pots, glasses, cups, bananas, etc.) Cool, but you have to wonder if these enhancements can anywhere near compensate for the lackluster enemy AI and animation.

REPLAY: buy or rent?
Personally, I don't get bored of MOH because, like a racing game, I play FPS for the experience, the feel. MOH has always done a good job on that aspect. Frontline retains that MOH feel, and I'm game for replaying the game whenever I feel like playing FPS.

CONCLUSION
MOH: Frontline really is a mixed bag. We have improvements in graphics and missions, but the controls and enemy AI/animation failed to meet MOH standards. Considering that for now MOH: Frontline will likely be the only FPS of its kind on PS2, I'll likely keep the game. For penny-pinching and more discriminating FPS gamers, I would definitely recommend a rental before buying.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 06/01/02, Updated 06/01/02


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