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The GoodMedal of Honor took the crown for World War II-themed first person shooters and held on to it for a good while, but it's time for the EA title to step down and let Call of Duty take its place.
Call of Duty is essentially a better version of Medal of Honor. The basics are all the same, and there's not too much in Call of Duty that wasn't at least partly implemented in Medal of Honor -- Call of Duty just does it better. Not to say Medal of Honor was bad, it was just time for an upgrade, I think. And boy does Call of Duty pull through.
First of all, the graphics are great. Not just great, they're astounding. There is one particular level in which you are escaping German forces on the back of a truck, and I found myself getting killed too often because I was enjoying the beautiful scenery. The amount of detail in the level design is absolutely wonderful -- particularly the assault on Stalingrad in the Russian campaign. Absolutely beautiful.
Level design is this game's high point, I think. There are smallish details that really make the levels great, such as multiple entrances for certain key areas, or VERY wide-open places with multiple paths to take you to where your destination is.
I haven't played a first person shooter that touched me at all emotionally in quite some time, but this game comes quite close during certain moments. A level where you have to defend a bridge, I'm down to next-to-nothing health, tanks are bombarding the place, I'm holed up in a bunker, I've no ammo for anything but my meager pistol, German troops are attempting to take the bunker...I sit down, I wait for my demise...and then some epic music starts, and I look out the window to see American tanks have come to save the day at last! The British take the bridge, I step outside to see the corpses of my comrades as well as the enemy. Combined with the music, the great graphics, that was truly a great point in any game I've played recently.
Your allies are more competant than they were in Medal of Honor. They'll take cover, provide cover fire, suppressive fire, and they'll come to your aid when you need it. You can also do the same for your allies. And you can dive! I don't know about you, but any game in which you can literally dive for cover is fricken awesome. I found myself diving perhaps more than necesarry...
Playing this game felt like a real World War II movie. All around you something is happening, whether it's planes flying overhead fighting or bombing, or your allies in combat, sieging a tank, opening the hatch and throwing a grenade in, or a grenade going off nearby sending you to the ground in a dull haze, your reality coming back to you in the scream of a mortar shell. And that's just the miscellaneous stuff -- the scripted stuff will blow you away.
I also liked the ragdoll in this game. It wasn't overly focused, like in Max Payne 2 or something, but it's still there. It's quick and easy, and you seldom see an arm sticking through the wall or something like that.
The sound was also absolutely incredible. When the battles start up, you won't be able to hear a damn thing over the gunfire, and when it's over you can hear the battles going on far away, in other parts of the village or city or wherever you're fighting. I loved it.
The BadUnfortunately, while the AI is more competant than in Medal of Honor, that doesn't go very far. It's sort of like receiving a gunshot wound instead of a stabbing wound. One might be better, but that doesn't make it good. Your allies will provide cover fire, and all that, but they still can't hit the side of a barn and too often you'll find them abandoning their cover to get shot right in the open. There are times when the AI can impress you, but those times are too spread apart.
Considering the game's boast on how "one man didn't win the war" and all that stuff about team work, you sure do a lot of commando type stuff. I think there's really only one level in which you're alone, but even when in a squad you do a lot of stuff solo. Fact is, I found my allies just slowed me down, really. They would draw the fire from you...sometimes...but that's really all they're good for. There's no medic or anything to patch you up or anything really USEFUL about them.
You can look down the sight of your gun for a more accurate shot, but I didn't think this was any more accurate than just aiming the gun and firing. It was less accurate, in fact, as you lose the crosshair and instead get the gun's crosshair, which is darker and less easy to follow. Plus, when firing an automatic gun while looking down the sight, it's just pointless. Some guns were just too accurate, such as the tommygun. Someone explain how I was able to get five headshots in a row from firing a tommygun at the hip with the crosshairs as spread out as they were? And why can't I pull the same stunt while actually aiming?
The game is too short. If it were longer, or had some levels that were perhaps out of battle (such as talking to your comrades in a bunker or something like that) it could have added so much to the characters you played, so much to the immersion.