Medal of Honor: Allied Assault Review

When I was a kid I really enjoyed war movies, especially those set during World War II.  The Guns of Navarone, A Bridge Too Far, The Eagle Has Landed ... they all featured brave men going up against the evil Nazi war machine and fueled the imagination of a young boy.  Now there is a game which takes me back to those Saturday afternoons watching war movies, except now I can be a part of them.  Medal of Honor: Allied Assault does a great job of making you feel like you are taking part in a World War II movie.  Not the realistic and gritty movie in the Saving Private Ryan mold - the type of movie that makes you thank providence for never having to have faced combat, and makes you want to shake the hand of every veteran who put themselves in the line of fire so that we could be free to stay home and play computer games.  No, Medal of Honor is a throwback to the good versus evil, grand adventure war films of yore.  

Medal of Honor is a first person shooter that casts the player in the role of a special forces commando.  The player must make his/her way through a series of six missions with an emphasis on covert operations.  Each of these missions is further divided into a series of related, objective-based levels.  The variety of environments in these missions is amazing - a Norwegian U-Boat base, a North African airbase, and Omaha Beach on D-Day are just a few of the places the game takes players.  The locations are also full of details that help to immerse the player in the game.  Players are given a taste of the game's level of detail right from the start, as a pair of P-47s fly over the training grounds during the tutorial.  

Not only are the environments varied, but the mission objectives are as well.  In Norway, the player must enter the U-Boat base disguised as a German officer in order to plant explosives on a prototype submarine.  In North Africa, players will man a jeep-mounted machine gun on a daring nighttime raid ala The Rat Patrol.  Players will even have to slug it out with Hitler's coastal defenses as a member of the US Army Rangers during the invasion of Normandy.  The missions are heavily scripted; enemies always appear in the same number and at the same places when a mission is replayed.  However, the missions are so well-designed that they never come across as anything but spontaneous and chaotic, the way one would imagine it to be in real combat.  The missions are also so enjoyable, players will find themselves replaying their favorites even when they know what's coming, just as they would enjoy watching their favorite movie yet one more time.

The difficulty from one mission to the next is as varied as the missions themselves.  Some are dispatched in fairly quick order, and others are quite challenging.  The Omaha Beach mission is particularly tough and drives home the fact of just how difficult it can be to survive taking part in an amphibious assault on a heavily fortified enemy.  While the more difficult missions can prove a little frustrating at times and force a few reloads, the variety of missions and situations keep things interesting from start to finish.

The AI in Medal of Honor is pretty good for the most part, but does exhibit a few quirks.  Enemy soldiers are good at taking advantage of cover and at maneuvering to get a better shot at the player.  They dive for cover when a grenade is tossed in their midst, and will even try to throw it right back at the player sometimes.  However, they'll occasionally come across as being incredibly stupid - running around a corner piled with bodies to be gunned down and added to the heap by the player or charging a machine gun nest commandeered by the player.  Fortunately, these quirks in judgment are more the exception than the rule, so the AI will provide players with a good challenge for the most part, especially since they hold a few advantages over the player - the AI-controlled soldiers can fire around corners and lie prone, neither of which the player can do.