A slick, well produced FPS, that raises the entertainment bar.
Steven Spielberg's endorsement of this game through Dreamworks could never harm Medal of Honor (MOH), especially as it came out around the same time as Saving Private Ryan. Though we'd have to wait for the third instalment of the series for the epic D-Day landings, this games goes all out to present an authentic slice of WW2 all wrapped up like an action film.
It certainly delivers. Taking all the standard aspects of FPS games (health packs, varying weaponry, one-man armies) MOH polishes the concept in a game world that is a mix of historical reality and silver screen Nazis. They even talk English with German accents! The player takes the role of Jimmy Patterson, a US special forces soldier selected for the S.O.E. To be planted behind enemy lines in a series of daring raids. Each raid is based loosely on historical fact, and then broken down into a series of levels. The game sends Patterson across Europe both before and after D-Day, supporting the Allied campaign.
The levels themselves are varied, Patterson often has to don German uniforms and fool the guards, he also has to recover documents, sabotage trains, and stop the sabotage of a mine. The game has been crafted as a linear experience with levels cleverly designed to appear vast, yet with one clear guided path through. This linearity creates several set-pieces, often involving a handily placed machine-gun nest for you to use.
The game looks great too, with a similar colour palette to Saving Private Ryan, all muted greens, browns and greys. Mixed with the swelling orchestral score it creates a strong ambience leaving you peering around every corner trying to spot Nazis. They are quite characterful too, diving for cover and trying to sneak up on you, requiring well aim shooting to take down.
As in all FPS Jimmy Patterson is a one-man army and the mission certainly do stretch their historical accuracy thin. This is inevitable as the genre conventions dictate a high body count and missions which seem impossible. There's also a lack of blood, making for a very tidy war, as well as bodies which disappear after dying, keeping the horror of war quite distant.
The levels are very linear, and exploring them fully does tend to undo the tension somewhat. I find this facet forgiveable though as you'd hardly expect the developers to program a fully functioning French town.
The Bottom Line
Medal of Honor is a great, polished FPS that brings cinema-style entertainment to the Playstation, though in less detail. Whilst it creates high tension moments of action, it can't deliver any more emotional impact in the way that cinema can. Still, it's a fun shooter.