Electronic Arts has produced another rock solid, if uninspired, first-person shooter for their Medal of Honor series. Medal of Honor: Allied Assault's seven multi-level missions traverse the European Theater of WWII; you will take out coastal guns in North Africa, scuttle submarines in Norway, and sneak into the heart of Nazi Germany. Where Return to Castle Wolfenstein establishes an arcane and spooky atmosphere, Allied Assault emphasizes realism, though both are relatively standard shooters. All the missions provide plenty of furious and enjoyable killing, but your biggest regret may be the title's relatively short length.
These missions will blur together as you progress, partly because there are so many of them, and partly because of their similarity. However, Allied Assault also includes several unforgettable missions, such as a D-Day landing on Omaha Beach. When the door of your landing craft opens and the enemy machine guns slaughter most of the soldiers around you, it's quite easy to understand why so many people died on 6 June 1944. Much like the D-Day scene in Saving Private Ryan, it's a disorienting and terrifying experience. Two missions also encourage stealth (somewhat reminiscent of the Metal Gear series, although not as well done), which allows a break from the otherwise continuous shooting and sniping.
Allied Assault handles plot development primarily through scripted events that occur regardless of your actions. In one mission an undercover operative -- supposedly your on-the-job instructor -- is killed right in front of you, forcing you to complete your assignment alone. Perhaps such scripted events are meant to replace the customary pre-mission cut-scenes, which are curiously absent. Yet, without cut-scenes, the plot advances with a military precision and avoids unnecessary distractions. However, after completing the last mission, Allied Assault needs a medal presentation since the conclusion will leave you wondering if you left something unfinished.
The AI of enemy soldiers varies considerably depending on the situation. Sometimes the Nazis execute well-coordinated attacks, but the dead bodies of guards killed seconds earlier are generally ignored. Wolfenstein's Nazis would ignore dead bodies too, although they favored setting ambushes instead of the coordinated attacks found in Allied Assault. Allied Assault feels scripted, with certain events invariably triggering Nazi reactions. The actions and fates of your fellow soldiers are generally predetermined as well. On the rare occasions you can protect them, they stupidly run into enemy fire.
The biggest problem with Allied Assault is its relative brevity; most players will finish the game in ten hours on the medium setting. The hard setting demands considerable memorization and repetition, like GoldenEye for the N64, but, sadly (and unlike GoldenEye), the missions remain unchanged. First-person shooters have been distressingly brief lately, perhaps because of increased memory and graphical demands, and Allied Assault is no different. A pity, because, given the game's cost, more than ten hours of play should be expected. However, for first-person shooter fans, the ten hours you spend with Allied Assault will be most satisfactory. Nazis are fun and rewarding to kill, the missions offer diverse action, and the graphics are first rate.
Graphics: Impressive, and bug-free.
Sound: You'll hear soldiers yell orders and warnings; you'll also hear them scream.
Enjoyment: Generally a blast, though some increased mission variation would help.
Replay Value: Since the missions remain the same, replaying the game on a harder setting will get tedious quickly. Multiplayer options add value, but not too much.
People who downloaded Medal of Honor: Allied Assault have also downloaded:
Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault, Call of Duty, Call of Duty 2, Battlefield 1942, Halo: Combat Evolved, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Battlefield Vietnam, Half-Life
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