"Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, the first PC game of the popular Medal of Honor series, was one of the first World War II based shooters to really capture the feel of the war. With impressive graphics, incredible sound, and an emphasis on historical events rather than fictional stories, the game quickly captured the attention of gamers. Allied Assault basically started the World War II FPS subgenre that we have all come to love and hate. While the early games in the series w..."
Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, the first PC game of the popular Medal of Honor series, was one of the first World War II based shooters to really capture the feel of the war. With impressive graphics, incredible sound, and an emphasis on historical events rather than fictional stories, the game quickly captured the attention of gamers. Allied Assault basically started the World War II FPS subgenre that we have all come to love and hate. While the early games in the series were popular on the PlayStation, the franchise didn’t really take off until Allied Assault arrived on the scene and surprised everyone with realistic weaponry, expansive levels, and a variety of unique experiences, like operating anti-aircraft guns and strapping sticky bombs to tanks. It was a fun experience for sure, but it wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination. While the game offered plenty of original challenges, at the end of the day, you were still a lone super-soldier charged with saving the world, just like you were in every other FPS game since Wolfenstein. Though the setting was different and the gameplay was a varied, at the end of the day, Allied Assault was every other FPS with a very fresh coat of paint.
The developers attempted to fix this “super-soldieritis” in the expansion pack to Allied Assault, Medal of Honor: Allied Assault – Spearhead. Many of the missions in the game place you on battlefields with a team of comrades, challenging you to defend captured points and secure strategic locations with a team of AI controlled soldiers. At the time, these developments were revolutionary, but ultimately, they failed in execution.
You're sent in to gain control of a German controlled town in one particular mission. You and your band of brothers begin raiding the German-infested town by clearing out some houses, a church, and a hotel. The idea of this kind of invasion is awesome. You and several other soldiers, opening up doors, clearing out rooms - this was really unique and new. However, it simply doesn’t work in Spearhead. In this particular mission, you cannot let your Captain die, but if you let your Captain fight, he will die. The solution to this problem, then, is to simply run as fast as you can, killing every Nazi before your Captain can get near them. Another mission parameter in an earlier level of Spearhead requires that most of your comrades survive. Again, I had to run ahead and kill everyone before my AI teammates could get in firing range of the enemy because if they did, they would die and I would lose the mission.
There are a few missions where you can actually fight alongside fellow soldiers, but your allies are ineffectual and don't ever seem to kill any enemies. I had a hard time telling if this was an AI issue or a design choice. It seems that your teammates only exist for aesthetic purposes and to ruin the mission for you. I found myself wondering if they just simply don’t kill because their AI is terrible or if the developers wanted to leave the killing to you. Judging by some pathfinding issues that also plague your fellow infantrymen, I'm going to assume their incompetence is an AI issue and not a design choice.
By the last of the three missions, the developers gave up on the idea of teamwork and chose to send you on a suicide mission in Berlin. Your mission is to invade Berlin, get past all of the city's defenses, and find a safe that contains a list of double agents. This mission requires you to destroy – single-handedly – several tanks take out a half-dozen machine gun nests, and snipe a dozen snipers hiding in the ruins of the city. The only way I beat this level was through constant quick-saving, which basically ruined the whole mission. This mission in particular would have benefited from a well-designed system of allies, but that system of allies is simply not in this game.
Spearhead isn’t always disappointing. One particular battle involves finding a medic for the Captain while your forest base is being shelled from far-off (in preparation for a German troop surge). You don’t actually kill any Germans during this sequence. Instead, you run from bunker to bunker, avoiding shells and timing your movements just right to avoid being destroyed by German artillery. Like the rest of the Spearhead, the mission isn’t perfect (when you’re hiding in bunkers and trenches you're invincible even as shells crash around you), but it’s very tense and challenging without being overly unfair like the Berlin mission.
All together, this is a game that really wants to succeed, but it’s simply before its time. It could have been great, but some poor design choices, like the way your allies cannot fall in battle, really ruin the experience. As it stands, Medal of Honor: Allied Assault - Spearhead has some fun moments, but at the end of the day, this short and very flawed expansion that is just not worth your time.
Community review by asherdeus (March 08, 2007)
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