"An exquisite experience for the eyes and ears"

The first Medal of Honor (PSX) is perhaps one of the finest gaming experiences in my life. Technically the game had nothing new to offer in the graphic department; it was no secret that early PSX games, like Resident Evil, featured a wide arrange of superior graphics and eye candy, the stuff upon which sales (unfortunately) seems to be made of these days. On the other hand, the game itself was an impressive feast of craftsmanship; not only did the game feature a wide choice of impressive sound effects, an epic soundtrack and gloomy locations, it was fun. Missions ranging from infiltration and sabotage to cheer gunfight in the ruins of a French town, the game had it all. Some months latter, a prequel was released, and many flashy comments were made. I never had the chance to play MoH: Underground, but I do know that I have heard the sweetest of things about it. EA, it seems, has started to build a solid series with these games.

MoH: Frontline is the series' debut on the PS2 (Soon to follow the X-Box) and it certainly delivers. Many aspects of the first game have been polished beyond recognition; graphics are among the best I have seen yet, not to mention the INCREDIBLE soundtrack composed by genius extraordinaire Michael Giacchino. But this is not excuse to ignore some of the game's faults, unfortunately. Now ''faults'' is a very strong word, but it needs to be mentioned that, as much incredible the technical specs might be, the gameplay does lack a bit.

Graphics: 10.
Not what you would see in MGS2, but these graphic definitely deliver. The textures are smooth and well polished. The impression I had upon seeing smoke (of any kind) just sent me down in a hysterical drool. Water effects are good, not to mention some of the most impressive explosions I have seen in any FPS. One of the most impressive tasks of this game's graphical perfection (Other than the first level) is very early during the second level, in which a German fighter plane guns down and allied combat car, resulting in a brilliant destruction of said vehicle.

Sound effects: 10.
Very good sound FX, from bullets blazing to explosions, airplanes and battle tanks. A very nice touch added to the effects was the inclusion of conversations in German with English subtitles; even the few times that there is interaction between you and the NPC enemies all interaction is in German, unlike the first MoH. This is, believe or not, very important to me as a player. In MGS2 I was in a sense let down by the Russian terrorists speaking in English between themselves, so you might imagine how much I appreciate it that game developers take their time to have the enemy speak in their native tongue.

Music: 10.
For me this is one of the most important factors in any game, music is simply one of those things has to be done properly in order to achieve the greatest possible result. This game is an intoxicating mix between the events and the music, resulting in a brilliant experience. Michael Giacchino composes the soundtrack; it is simply beautiful and mixes perfectly with the action.
For example, there is one level called ''Arnhem Knights'', which takes place in the ruins of a Dutch town, the situation is your typical WWII urban fight footage, that is Allied forces fighting Axis forces among the ruins of houses, buildings and neighborhoods; the time seems to be near Dusk and the sky is beautiful, but down here everything is going straight to Hell. Even if your area has been cleared of Nazi scum, you can still hear distant screams of pain, generals yelling orders in German, gunfire and explosions, but the background music is the one thing the leaves the most shocking impression, it is a calm, sad and soft opera-like music that perfectly fits the terrible mood of the level. I don't know what is the soprano singing about, but I would wager it is a lament for the fall of humanity. THAT good is the music of this game.

Control: 7.
The first level kicks you straight to the action so you have little to no time at all to test the game's controls. Be warned, the very first minutes you'll be killed a LOT due the confusing control scheme. I was able to fully grasp the control after the end of the second level, so it is really nothing too difficult, but still could be frustrating at first. If you stop playing the game for a few days and the resume with it, the most likely thing is that you will confuse some buttons, but noting to be alarmed though. Still, control could have been a littler better.

Gameplay: 7.
As much as I hate to do this, I must give this category a 7. Like everyone, I was mesmerized by the shocking impact of the D-Day level. (The very first level) You are literally pushed into the heart of the action with little cover other than some holes dug in the ground; the Nazis seem to be having a fun time gunning everyone down with their turrets in the safe comfort of their bunkers, all the while the threat from the sky is destroying every arriving allied troop. This level is so good that even after finishing it, I re-played it again instead of proceeding to the next level, that good it is. But unfortunately that's about the only level like that.

Don't take me wrong, there are many good and fun levels ahead, but they are basically the generic FPS formula. The action is great and the Nazi threat is truly dangerous, but all the levels, I mean ALL of them, feel the same. Even worse are the undercover levels. Unlike those you find in the original MoH, in which you sneak into Nazi infested bunkers and boats, the ones you play in Frontline are a joke. The first trace of undercover arrives at the very end of a long level and you just pose like a general for a mere two minutes at most. The next level you are supposed to go undercover, but just as soon as you get inside the complex a soldier blows it and the next thing you know all of the Hitler youth is upon you. In other words, undercover levels exist, sure, but they are basically non playable, so…

Now, the game itself is fun, really fun, but after levels doing the same again and again, one tends to get tired. During the course of the last three or four levels I was just dying to end the game.

The game's structure is strictly linear, so there is no room for experimentation here. Occasionally, you'll find an alternative to get through this or that area, but the occasions are very limited.

Story/Plot: 8
It basically is centered all around WWII, so that should be enough to grant it a 10, but the story within the story involves you tracing a Duke Rudolph von Sturmgeist and uncovering the truth behind a rumored jet fighter the Nazis are said to be working on, a devastating weapon that if implementing could turn the tides of war in favor of the Axis. Very good story indeed, but unfortunately, it is not elaborated the way it should, so…

Design: 10.
Very, and I mean VERY good designs. Buildings, houses, complexes, planes, tanks, uniforms, weapons, everything is great. The added touch of Nazi propaganda found in every street and office was great, the uniforms are shiny and powerful (Hey, Nazis did have a good taste in clothing!) and the architecture, well, just too damn good. The attention put to enemy design is to be noted as well. This game does have different kinds of enemy visages, unlike the first MoH in which all enemies were the same German cloned a thousand times.

A.I: 6.
I don't know about real life Nazis, but these Nazis are dumb. You just throw a grenade and do not expect it to be thrown back at you, unlike the first MoH. Do not think you'll be fighting against the tactical squads of third Reich either, these guys seem to champion the subtle and elegant choice of BRUTAL combat… nothing that a sniper riffle can't solve, though…

Challenge: 9.
In ''Normal'' option, this game is challenging enough. Near the final levels you will experience a rise in the overall difficulty, but nothing to really be panicked about. Some levels are very easy, but the ones that are difficult, are difficult enough. The last level plunges you in the impossible scenario of you against a small army that is attacking you all at once! So you can expect to be challenged enough with this game.

Replay value: (This category does not figure in the final score)
Just try to get gold in all the missions in ''perfectionist'' mode; that should be replay value enough!

To buy or to rent:
You might be disappointed after the first two or three levels, so I suggest you give this game a rental first and then decide if it is of your liking.

Final score: (The average is rounded to the closest pair number. For example, if the score is 7.5 = 8. But if the score is 6.5 = 6)

Graphics: 10
Sound effects: 10
Music: 10
Control: 7
Gameplay: 7
Story/Plot: 8
Design: 10
A.I: 6
Challenge: 9

Total: 77 / 9 = 8.5

Final Score = 8 (Very Good)

Final comments:
Medal of Honor: Frontline is a fun game that is proof of Electronic Art's brilliant craftsmanship (From the 32 bit era and up) and its sure to entertain WWII buffs and people who favor the systematic butchering of Nazis. Unfortunately, the limited sphere of actions and the linear structure of the game prevent it from obtaining a perfect score. The game is superior to its PSX ancestor in almost every way but it still is stuck in the use of the same formula. Innovation is something not easily obtainable in a FPS, and the last innovative FPS that I played was Deus Ex with its freedom of choice.

A revolution in gaming is about to happen. The freedom introduced recently by games such as Shenmue and GTA3 has infused the desire of multiple things to do and paths to take. Deus Ex triumphs on this category and for sure Electronic Arts can learn much from these games. Perhaps future Medal of Honor games will be a radical turn from what we have come to identify the series' name with.



Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 08/04/02, Updated 08/04/02


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