Written by  :  Zovni (10648)
Written on  :  Jun 20, 2002
Platform  :  Windows

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Best WW2 shooter so far, but...

The Good

Beautiful, furious, epic. Those are some of the first things that come to mind when you think of MoHAA. This is a fast-and-furious-take-no-prisoners shooter set in the Spielberg-ized WW2 most people have come to known and love. You are private Powell, and it's up to you to give those nazis some butt-kicking, and save your allied buddies. Essentially a slightly more realistic Return to Castle Wolfenstein with better mission design, and sans the fantasy edge.

Right from the start the game will dazzle you with it's fantastic graphics and John Williams-like music score, the level of detail in the graphics is truly astounding, and the music as well as all of the sfx, are recorded with a truly amazing quality, making full use of directional sound and it's features.

The game progresses through 6 linear campaigns that take you all over Europe and this is in my opinion, a great choice of gameplay progression, since you don't have to worry about a basic plotline to tie it all together. You want a plot? You are at war and you get transferred around, that's your plot. And it works fantastically because the star of this game is the level and variety of gameplay. The game has an astounding level of creativity when it comes to it's missions. Each one has a unique gameplay premise, and while it is most definetively a fps first and foremost, every now and then you get a mission where you have to infiltrate an enemy base, or man a gun emplacement, or take control of a tank, or engage in sniping duels, etc, etc, etc... Even the standard "kill 'em all" missions have interesting touches, all courtesy of the level of detail placed on the real-life weapons, the detail of the character models that react realistically when hit (and even crawl around or limp when injured), or the interesting locales you have to fight through (like the D-Day mission, or the nazi submarine pens).

The Bad

Those are some really nice graphics, huh?? Well forget about them pal, only monster systems need apply for this one, and I blame it all on a non-judicious use of it's engine. The levels are just too big, and the amount of variables (like squadmate behavior, etc.) is just too much for an engine designed for essentially dumb shooters. Furthermore, if you are not one of the lucky souls capables of running this baby at full detail, then you are in for some juggling around, the game offers a nice set of detail settings, but none manage to be really effective, since the basic problems still remain (the levels are still too big, and there are too many things to keep track off), I had to tone everything down to the bare minimum, and I even had to juggle with my desktop resolution every time I wanted to lunch this frigging thing (I never had to do that with the new Wolfenstein, both Q3 games) and there is no way to switch you 3d accelerator card from the main game interface....great.

Other problems include an annoying tendency to include re-spawning enemies on some levels, and an AI that is questionable at best. I'm really puzzled at this, since at times I see it do some really smart things, like making good use of cover (first FPS I see where the enemies actually lean over walls), throwing grenades back at me (or even jumping over them to protect their buddies) etc, etc. However most of the time they behave like the dumbest soldiers ever. Your enemies will run into your line of fire with incredible enthusiasm, or even shoot themselves, and your squadmates first instinct is always to run guns-blazing towards the biggest group of enemies they see...

Aside from those issues I have a less objective bone to pick with this game, and it's the "politically correct" way it handles everything. Not only have you got no blood or gore in the game (not even a Max Paynish-red puff) but there's nothing interesting to pick your imagination or interest in between the missions. The game lacks a certain edge that makes other less-perfect shooters more memorable. There are no iconic characters, there is no ending, essentially there are no "odds and ends" everything is the way it's supposed to be, almost sickening in it's antisepticness, a jewel polished so much that it has no distinctive glow... but well, that's just me. :)

The Bottom Line

Almost perfect in it's presentation and gameplay. And truly funny to play, but for me this game just doesn't have the right stuff. It's better than Return to Castle Wolfenstein in nearly every way, but when I think about it now, I had much more fun playing Wolf, and I'm probably gonna replay it someday... not so with this one.

Of course, most people that get this Spielberg-sanctioned title probably want a "Private Ryan simulator". And this game delivers on that account.