|Dev: 2015, Inc.|
|Pub: Electronic Arts|
|Release: January 22, 2002|
|Screen Resolution: N/A|
by Josh Wirtanen
Medal of Honor: Allied Assault was a true classic of FPS gaming. It took the very strong formula built by its predecessors (Medal of Honor and Medal of Honor: Underground, both for the original PlayStation) and tweaked it ever-so-slightly to make it feel like a true PC gamer's game.
One of the most obvious areas of improvement was its graphical strength. Looking back almost 10 years later, it looks fairly dated. However, back in 2002, Medal of Honor: Allied Assault was a benchmark in visual quality. A good gaming PC was judged on how well it could handle MoH:AA, much how Crysis 2 is viewed today or how Battlefield 3 will most likely be seen by the end of this year.
MoH:AA's biggest influence on the FPS world, however, was introducing online play to the Medal of Honor series. Previous iterations were originally exclusive to the PSOne, which obviously didn't support any sort of online play. All multiplayer in the series before this point had been done via splitscreen. Yet Medal of Honor's splitscreen offerings never felt as interesting as the FPS classic that was still fresh in all our minds back then: Goldeneye for the N64.
Online play took the Medal of Honor series to a whole new level, and made MoH:AA the apex of the franchise. Instead of a competitive mode that felt tacked on, Allied Assault included some very polished and well-thought-out multiplayer modes.
Multiplayer map layouts were exceptional, built around fairly strategic gameplay. For example, most of the maps in the game had three chokepoints. Grenades were powerful, killing an enemy in a single hit, generally making these chokepoints extremely dangerous to rush. Players were often forced to work with their teammates in order to successfully breach the enemy's defenses.
Also, most maps had camping points positioned so that each was easily counterable by opponents that knew the layouts well. This aspect made camping highly invigorating, yet made it dangerous enough that campers rarely became a problem. If someone was camping, generally you knew exactly where that person was and how to deal with them. It had an almost chess-like quality to it.
Even though the multiplayer offering was so exceptionally well-built, MoH:AA still had a strong single-player campaign. It featured several interesting characters (like Manon Batiste, who had made an appearance in the original Medal of Honor and was playable in Medal of Honor: Underground), a lot of action, a bit of espionage, and even some driving scenes. It also let players experience the incredible moments of World War II, like storming Omaha Beach and parachuting into France on D-Day (the latter of which was added in the Spearhead expansion.) However, it didn't feel like it went over the top, like the Call of Duty campaigns do (especially the Modern Warfare campaigns.) Instead, these were the real battles that our grandparents and history teachers told us about.
There was a feel to the game that can best be attributed to a movie that had come out just a few years prior, Saving Private Ryan. This comparison is quite appropriate, as Stephen Spielberg, who had directed Saving Private Ryan, was deeply involved in the inception of the Medal of Honor franchise. In fact, many of the game's locations seem to be pulled directly from the film. Undeniably, it was Spielberg's influence we were feeling through much of MoH:AA's cinematic campaign.
The true legacy of MoH:AA, however, has to be that it spawned the Call of Duty series. A good portion of MoH:AA's developers went on after the project was complete to form Infinity Ward, thus introducing the world to Call of Duty. The CoD games have always been known for their exceptional multiplayer experiences, which isn't surprising considering the Infinity Ward founders had already created a multiplayer FPS masterpiece in MoH:AA.
In fact, this would mark a shift in World War II FPS dominance. Medal of Honor was the original king of the WW2 shooter, and Allied Assault was its pinnacle. However, Call of Duty would launch shortly thereafter, and become the megahit franchise of the FPS genre.
Medal of Honor: Allied Assault has definitely earned its place among the top ten World War video games ever made. It spawned two expansions, Spearhead and Breakthrough, and the franchise still survives to this day. However, Medal of Honor has never been as good as it was back in the Allied Assault era.
CCC Editor / Contributing Writer