Medal of Honor: Allied Assault
A good enjoyable WWII shooter
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I was a big fan of the 'Medal Of Honor' series on the Sony Playstation. This game is a very worthy first edition for the PC. Many things will be familiar to players of the Playstation games. The great sound and music from those games is all equally effective at setting a mood in 'Allied Assault'. Unlike 'Return to Castle Wolfenstein', the Germans actually speak German here, adding greatly to the games sense of authenticity.
The games three difficulty levels really add a lot of replay value. While the game is relatively simple on the 'easy' difficulty setting, ramping it up to 'hard' can make for a real challenge. Enemies will do a lot more damage, and you'll find that you can't take more than a few bullets. This makes for a much more realistic experience than you would have on lower settings.
'Allied Assault' will likely be remembered best for its tense Omaha Beach mission. Much like the opening scene of 'Saving Private Ryan', this mission really puts you on Omaha Beach on D-Day, with bullets whizzing by, shells exploding in the sand all around you, and your commander screaming orders at you and your team. It's truly an accomplishment in immersive game design, due in large part to the excellent sound.
Like the Playstation 'Medal of Honor' games, there are many unique missions to break up the monotony of a shooter. There are the undercover missions that have you sneaking around disguised as a Nazi officer. There are also a few different vehicles that you find yourself riding around in, either at the controls, or at the gun. In the case of the King Tiger tank, you're the one in charge. The tank on tank battles can be especially interesting.
The AI in this game leaves a little to be desired. While the Nazis don't charge you like frenzied berzerkers, they don't always behave realistically either. There is one sad scene in particular where Nazi soldiers walk out one after the next from behind hedges, right into your blazing machine gun fire. At other times in the game however, especially the Snipertown level, the enemy AI seems to be pretty clever, and it can be truly difficult to see where shots are coming from.
As for your squad (when you have one) they can be a help and a burden. In levels when their death in not a failure condition, their extra firepower can really come in handy. When your sqaudmates survival is necessary however, they will sometimes stand in the middle of the street and be shot by the same sniper two, three, or four times, without moving out of the way or seeking cover. A system for issuing general commands to your squad would have been very helpful.
The games multiplayer component really offers nothing new, and is a hassle to get into. Rather than have an in-game system for locating servers, the game requires that you have GameSpy Arcade installed and use that the find servers playing the game. Then when you find a server you must boot back into 'Allied Assault', wait through load screens, then start the game. If you're lucky. Server full? Quit 'Allied Assault', open Gamespy Arcade, look for a new server, log in, launch 'Allied Assault', wait through three load screens... you get the idea. Once you do start a multiplayer game it isn't all that much fun after the team play breakthroughs of 'Return to Castle Wolfenstein'.
The games system requirements are pretty steep, and it's recommendations are even steeper. I have a 750mhz Athlon with 384 MB of RAM. The game runs well with low texture detail and color depth, but starts to lose some frame rate at higher detail settings, though to be fair, it is still quite playable (and quite pretty).
The Bottom Line
'Allied Assault' is a good, well paced, action packed WWII game for the PC. It's not a realistic first person combat simulation by any means, but it is a very fun and challenging action game. There are a lot of in game scripted events, a la 'Half-Life', which are all carried off to great effect. The games developers have done a great job of creating an immersive WWII environment, and using cinematic music and sound effects to bind everything together. Anyone who enjoys a good Half-Life style first person shooter would almost certainly have fun with this game.