Review by northernlion
"Flawed, but ultimately enjoyable."
The Medal Of Honor series began back on the original Playstation in 1999 and it quickly became the must-own first person shooter on the system. It later received a second incarnation Medal Of Honor: Underground, which was a solid game in its own right. Then, 2 years after Underground, Medal Of Honor: Frontline released for the Playstation 2 (and later for Xbox and Gamecube). After playing it for quite some time, I can honestly say it is a great addition to the Medal Of Honor series, although it does suffer some serious control issues. Any serious FPS fan who only owns a Playstation 2 should definately have this in their collection.
The graphics in Frontline are good, but not astounding. Easily the best effect are the explosions. Dirt particles float up towards the sky, helping to create a great atmosphere for the game. Face models are also well done, and are perhaps the best example of this particular effect on the Playstation2. Unfortunately, environments are pretty bland and choppy. Textures look very plain and occaisonally rushed, and up close they don't look very nice at all. But, I'll give them a small exemption, due to the limitations of the console they were working on. Nevertheless, I expected slightly better after the graphical showcase of Medal Of Honor: Underground on PSX.
Fortunately weapons are quite authentic (from what I hear from WWII enthusiasts), and you can see your hand on the gun. It's not a big issue to me, but apparently some find it extremely aggravating. The opening sequence (rendered by the in-game animation) is quite extraordinary. After being bombed out of a ship on D-Day, you're swimming in the water. All around you you can see bullets whizzing through the water, your comrades falling to the ground. It's quite an amazing sight. This helps add up to a pleasing graphical experience, but not one that you have to see to believe.
For this section, I'm going to discuss the one major problem plauging this game-- Control. Using the right-analog stick to control the y-axis(vertical viewing) and the left analog-stick to control the x-axis(horizontal viewing) AND (being the key word) controlling movement. This leads to very, very difficult fire fights. Why couldn't they have just implemented the simple, great controls used in Timesplitters 2 and Halo? It baffles me. Perhaps they wished to make the game similar to war by making it very frustrating. For a casual FPS player, it will take you around 45 minutes to get used to the controls. For one used to the likes of Halo, it will take you around 2 hours, because you're used to simplistic controls (which is a good thing). This HAS to be resolved in future MOH games.
I won't really touch on this too much, but I'm disappointed that Frontline doesn't have any multiplayer. The first MOH for Playstation 1 had it, and that was 4 years ago! It would've been very nice to blast at a friend or play co-op, but alas, we must make due with what we have.
Now for the good! As I said before, weapons are authentic, and this intentionally creates the illusion of war. I must commend the crew at EA Games for doing such a good job of creating this atmosphere. The single-player mode will take you anywhere from 10-20 hours to finish depending on your skill level. While there are obvious difficulty spikes in some of these missions, you won't mind replaying them as you will be having so much fun. Enemy A.I. is pretty straightforward. Unfortunately, they don't take cover, however they are crack shots on the higher difficulty levels.
There are no pilotable vehicles in Frontline (fans will correct me, but no spoilers!) but there are many turrets. In the Rolling Thunder level, you are able to take control of a rocket launching turret to destroy trains. There is only one word to describe this--fun. Speaking of that level, Rolling Thunder takes place on only one of many environments in the game. Ranging from the insanely cool D-Day level, to a german U-boat, to a brigde (fans of Bridge On The River Kwai will love this), and eventually a secret german manufacturing facility. This helps add variety to the game, making it last for ages.
It's unfortunate the game has such bad control, or it would've received a 9.5 for a score. Sadly, it hampers gameplay to such an extent that we must mention it and take it into account. Fortunately the rest of the gameplay is quite good, aside from the absent multiplayer. Realistic weapons, a variety of levels, and a lengthy single player campaign add quite a great deal to this game. World War II enthusiasts will be in heaven.
Medal Of Honor: Frontline simply has to be heard to be believed. From the moment you begin you are treated to an audio extravanganza. Bullets whiz by your head with such realism that you forget it's a game and believe you're actually there, fighting for the world. If you have surround sound, you will definately be pleased, as you can hear a bullet fly from one side of the area to another. Voices are well done, although I'm surprised that Nazis know such fluent english. Allied forces have stereotypical deep booming voices, but for once I don't mind. Music is competent but not mind-blowing. All in all, this is not one of the best sounding games on Playstation 2. It is one of the best sounding games on any console in history, truly an experience to be had.
How much you enjoy the extras in Medal Of Honor: Frontline will depend on how much you care about World War 2. Historical videos can be obtained by achieving a gold medal in each level in a certain mission. This takes quite a bit of skill on the latter missions in the game. Also, there is a medal chest where you can view the medals you have won over your military career. 3 difficulty settings add a slight amount to the value, although I didn't see a need to play through the game on another difficulty setting. Some may say the extras aren't substantial, but I disagree. I had quite a fun time unlocking all of the videos and medals in the game, and that's all that really matters.
By no means the best of its genre, but still a very good game, Medal Of Honor: Frontline demonstrates and displays all of the required elements of a good console first person shooter. A long, fun, single-player campaign, competent gameplay, amazing sound, and unlockable extras help make this perhaps the best first person war simulator on the market today. If they could do something about the control this could challenge as the best of its type on the Playstation 2.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 07/01/03, Updated 07/01/03
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