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Medal of Honor: Allied Assault (Windows)

90
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.9
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  phanboy_iv (122)
Written on  :  Feb 16, 2009
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars

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Summary

Nicely Presented WW2 Run 'n Gun

The Good

I initially picked up this game based on my reaction to the famous "Nebelwerfers" demo. I'm not a fan of railroady cinematic games as a general rule, but the demo convinced me that there's merit in a well crafted experience. And make no mistake, Allied Assault, like its scion Call of Duty, is a cinematic run and gun with few pretensions to realism. Okay, it's not quite so silly as Return to Castle Wolfenstein, but it's still very much a game.

And quite a good one, too, if a bit short. Spanning six missions, each split into several "levels", the game will not occupy too much of your time. There are expansion packs, however, as well as the vaunted multiplayer, so if you want more after finishing the game, it's out there. Most missions are of the on-foot variety, but a tank level and a handful of undercover missions break up the gameplay pretty well.

The levels take place across various locales, from the now-famous Omaha Beach landing (Which *is* quite the spectacle) to snowbound forests, to bombed out towns, and of course, German bases. Most levels are quite well designed, if very linear. Still, while undoubtedly linear, the levels feel a tad more open than the ones in Call of Duty do, allowing you to make detours in a few places to take out snipers ahead of time, and suchlike. And then there are levels like the "frozen forest", which, thanks to good design, almost feel open. Gameplay is standard WW2 shooter fare, giving you both German and American weapons, cunningly rendered to look almost like the real thing. Sniper rifles, pistols, SMGs, grenades, all the expected period weapons. Nary a raygun or suchlike in sight, thank goodness. All weapons have their pros and cons, like recoil, reload time, accuracy, and seem to be quite well balanced. No uberweapons here.

Allied Assault is of course based on the Quake 3 engine, which looks good, but not great. There are benefits, though, like engine stability, solid multiplayer performance, and reasonable system requirements. It's been so long since I could run a game with everything turned up to max, plus 4X AA, and still get a smooth 60 FPS, that I'm probably just being biased.

Sounds and music are some of Allied Assaults' best points, the score by Michael Giacchino is fantastic. There are some pseudo big band tracks in the game that just shine, as you might expect from the guy that scored Pixar's "Ratatouille" and "The Incredibles". Yeah. That guy. Sound effects are equally superior, in fact they *make* certain levels of the game. German cries, realistic gunshots, snow crunching under your feet and dogs barking in the distance as you traverse a snow-blanketed forest at night... You get the picture.

The game's difficulty depends on what you're expecting, really. People whined incessantly about the "Sniper's Last Stand" mission, I didn't find it to be much harder than the rest of the game, heck, I even got the medal for that mission the first time through without even knowing it. So, overall, pretty easy. On the "Medium" difficulty level at least, which is the setting that I started and finished the game on. Maybe I'm spoiled by games like Operation Flashpoint and even the original DOOM, but compared to those, Allied Assault just isn't hard. Period.

Multiplayer is quite nice, including such favorites as team deathmatch and objective-based modes. Still can't compete with the king of WW2 multiplayer squad based combat, Day of Defeat, in my book though. Still, Allied Assault remains to this day one of the most populated online games, and there are plenty of servers. That should tell you something about the multiplayer.

The Bad

The game's major flaws are its previously noted linearity, and the lack of squad-based missions. Only a handful of levels provide you with a team, the rest of the time it's the classic "one-man army" approach, as you wipe out whole bases full of Nazis with your Thompson and your Honorable American Manliness. Then there are the missions where you run through German bases, which almost play out like old-timey corridor crawlers. Like I said, realism is not a strong point here. The loner missions are still quite fun, though, and stand up very well against mechanically similar shooters. More squad based action and non-linearity would have approached perfection, but would also have made this a completely different kind of game. There are better choices out there if you're looking for that kind of game.

The Bottom Line

Not perfect, but if you like WW2 shooters, love great atmosphere, don't mind more traditional types of gameplay, and need some solid multiplayer fun, certainly give this game a spin. The demos are still readily available, and will give you a good idea of what to expect. Even better, the game and all it's expansion packs can be had for peanuts nowadays.