Review by Mr T Virus
"Video games and the History Channel don't mix, EA chose video games"
What is it about war? When I was barely older than a toddler, I remember playing some form of war with my friends. Whether it was an X-Men, mutants vs. sentinels or a World War 2 frag fest, it was always about war and someone had to get wounded. I gave up the backyard games as I got older and I adapted to more mature forms of what was basically the same thing. These more “mature” things were obsessions with old war movies, constant paintball, but most of all: war video games. The front-runner of the war game genre and my personnel console war game favorite is the Medal of Honor series, but what I really don't like about the series is how historically inaccurate it is.
Medal of Honor Frontline puts you in control of an OSS officer during World War 2. It is explained in the game that the OSS is an intelligence agency that later became the CIA. By putting you in the control of an intelligence officer, EA now has an excuse to let you play every major battle of the European Theater. Of what is considered the three biggest American battles in the European Theater (Operation Market-Garden, the D-Day landing, and the Battle of the Bulge), you fight in two of them. I can't tell you which ones because I don't want to risk spoilers. It would have made more sense if they had you play an officer in the 101st Airborne Division, since the 101st was at all three of those battles, but EA would have rather had a secret agent and super-soldier. This game does not capture the feeling of war at all. I would rather see a squad-based tactical shooter that incorporates the squad work and not just one soldier blasting his way to Berlin. If you’re going to make a war shooter like this, then you really should make it more of a frag fest than a failed attempt at accuracy.
On the other hand, this game really is top-notch as a first-person shooter. What ruins its historical accuracy really works for making the game more fun; the wide variety of locations really adds another level to this game. Playing through the D-Day landing is a moment of pure gaming bliss. It really makes you feel like Tom Hanks the first time you play through it. Frontline also has a wide variety of weapons, including non-American allied weapons and German weapons. My personnel favorites are the Springfield’03 Sniper Rifle (everyone loves the sniper) and the Panzerschreck. Variety (except for what is said below) is one thing that Frontline definitely has going for it.
The complaint that I hear the most about Frontline would have to be how linear it is. Despite what most gamers want, you can't explore the battlefield much on this game. This game would have vastly improved if the player was allowed to explore behind enemy lines or in a battlefield city like Arnhem. All the levels are following along one set trail with little or no freedom of where to go.
A war game just wouldn't be a war game without good sound affects. Frontline lives up to the standards that are expected from a war game and redefines them. This game includes every whirling bullet, ear-ringing grenade blast, and crack of the muzzle that you would expect from a war game. The sound above all else makes you feel like you're in a battle. It's really the attention to detail that makes the sound so great. Every healing item you pick up and reload have a distinct and high quality sound to them. The music is also good and is just right for the war theme of the game. The end of mission music makes you feel proud of your small accomplishment and adds a feeling of triumph. All it really needs is the hum from The Bridge on the River Kwai.
The visuals certainly are good but not nearly perfect. The levels that are in urban areas are complimented with streets of rumble and half-destroyed buildings. The main problem with this is not being able to tell what is a passageway and what is simply rumble. This game recreates War World 2 Europe quite nicely and gives a real sense of placement. I really like how EA toned the gore. This game doesn't have any bloody limbs or blown-off heads. Some might say this takes away from the realism, but I think it was a real classy move by EA.
What really upsets PS2 fanboys is the lack of a multiplayer mode exclusively left out of the PS2 version. A game this linear really needed a multiplayer mode. This is the only Medal of Honor game that does not include a multiplayer mode. The MoH versus modes of the past may not have been the pinnacle of FPS multiplayer games, but there were still nice editions to predominantly single player games. Medal of Honor Allied Assault featured a very good online mode that could have translated to Frontline in some way. What would have been enough to give this game a 10, err…20 would have been a Co-Op Mode. It would have made the game much less linear.
In conclusion, Frontline is a very good FPS that could have so much more if it had a multiplayer mode and was less linear. Don't expect a great history lesson either. But who cares about history? After all, we're all just a bunch of little kids playing war.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 05/28/03, Updated 06/19/03
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