The first Medal of Honor game was released in 1999 for the PSX. Six years and many Medal of Honor titles later, we have this, Medal of Honor: European Assault. PALGN isn't a huge fan of the previous two titles in the franchise - Rising Sun (3.5 out of 10) was plain bad, a linear affair with laughable A.I. But eighteen months later (and after the hugely impressive Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30) EA have come out with all guns blazing (pun intended), But is it enough to claim the title of best war shooter?
For the uninitiated, Medal of Honor is a war-themed FPS. The game is set in 1942 when the Germans were gradually taking power over Europe. The player takes the role of US Army Lieutenant William Holt, handpicked to be among the first field agents of the newly-forged office of strategic services - The OSS.
There's a few new additions that make European Assault different from its many patchy predecessors. EA have added a adrenaline meter that slowly fills up. The adrenaline meter is filled up by healing your team-mates, scoring headshots and more. When it is activated, time slows down, you gain invinsibility and unlimited ammo. It takes a while to get used to the adrenaline feature, but is becomes essential in later battles.
Players are also able to take cover a lot more easily, adding a strategic focus to the game. Your soldier can peek their head around a corner, duck down or lie on the ground. This element of control is effective, because it makes the game seem more authentic and versatile. This is really a feature that should have have been added in previous Medal of Honor titles.
A realtime rewards system helps to encourage players in realtime if they are playing well. If you act heroically, then medikits will appear on the battlefield. Not only will players be rewarded with medikits, but ammunition and different weapons will also appear. This realtime rewards system is unprecedented and is a very subtle way of rewarding those who work hard.
It truly is incredible the difference that eighteen months can make. EA have completely reworked the artificial intelligence of the game, soldiers are now much smarter, repsonsive and aggressive. While the soldiers will occasionally make some questionable or outlandish moves, generally the AI is of a high standard, and it is so much better than in previous MOH games.
Every MOH game features classic war battle re-enactments, and European Assalut takes place over four classic wartime battles. The first few missions focus on the St. Nazaire battle, then continue on to the Battle of the Bulge, Stalingard and the North Africa battles. The large scale of these battles is fully realised over three or four missions in the one place.
Other aspects of the game have been reworked since MOH's last incarnation. Gameplay is much faster and more intense and the battlefields are noticably larger. At times it is easy to get lost in the large scale environment, the large battlefields are great, as they help to make the game, and the experience feel less linear. There are decisions to be made at each corner that can determine a German onslaught or a pathway to safety.
Missions are often unlocked in real-time as well. Every mission has a primary objective, with secondary objectives gradually becoming available as the level progresses. Thus, just completing the primary mission is possible, but exploration is encouraged, and is rewarded with ammunition, medikits and extra information,
EA have also included four-player support. There are three multiplayer game modes, Deathmatch, Avis Vs Allies and Free for all. All of these different game modes take place over fifteen maps. The four player experience is incredible, with no noticable slowdown being apparant. For some obscure reason, EA have omitted Xbox Live support. This would have been a great inclusion and we're unsure why support for the service was not included.
Healing your troops has a high emphasis in European Assault. Healing is simply a matter of walking up to your soldier and pressing the "A" button. Unfortunately the soldiers wander around a lot, and healing them is often harder than it sounds. The "A" button is a context sensitive button, so if your soldier is near a gun, then the game will believe you want to pick up a weapon, rather than heal your team-mate. In the miodst of an intense battle, seconds are wasted trying to move your soldier to heal him. We also encountered a few glitches through our campaign - at times soldiers will run through walls, or run ultra fast to move away from an exploding tanker.
There is barely any loading throughout the entire game. This is surprising considering the amount of detail that has to be loaded for each battlefield. Bizarrely, the game loads for a quick second when the pause menu is brought up, considering this is a dull undetailed menu we were surprised that bringing it up induces loading.
For a game that prides itself so much on authenticity, the Nazi swaztika is absent from the game. In it's place is a black cross, PALGN believes this is because the PAL version will reach Germany, so EA have cut all PAL versions. We've heard reports that the NTSC version includes the swaztika, so if we're a little disappointed that we recieve another watered-down game.
The graphics in European Assault are a large stepup from Rising Sun. It is incredible that EA can create large scale environments and still make the game look better than its predecessors. The character models are a little blocky, but the frame-rate is steady, even when there is so much going on at one time.
The single greatest aspect of European Assault is the sound. The game features incredible THX sound and the experience is just amazing. There is so much going on at one time, ranging from bombs, grenades being thrown and orders coming through on the radio. The sound is some of the best heard in a video game to date, and it keeps the game sounding authentic.
European Assault's missions will take a significant amount of time to complete the first time. It is unlikely that all the objectives will be completed the first time through, so there is enough in the game to warrant a second play through of the single player mode. The multiplayer mode will stay entertaining for a lengthy amount of time, but we would have appreciated Xbox Live support.
European Assault has completely taken us by surprise. We were expecting a substandard FPS that didn't upgrade much from Rising Sun and yet we've gotten one of the best Medal of Honor titles released to date. The poor AI, average singleplayer and linear campaigns from the previous two Medal of Honor titles will be quickly forgotten about. European Assault is one of the best FPS's of the year. PALGN advises you to enlist now.
27 Jun, 2005
27 Jun, 2005
Medal Of Honor: European Assault Review
Xbox Review | A game of truly epic proportions.
|Medal of Honor European Assault is one of the surprises of the year, it is fast and fun. War is never fun, but this game is.||8|
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