PS2 REVIEW: MEDAL OF HONOR: EUROPEAN ASSAULT

Before you run out and buy Medal of Honor: European Assault read the rest of this paragraph. Although I recommend playing it, I don't recommend purchasing it. It's a relatively short campaign with no online modes. The multi-player mode is just a standard Deathmatch with split screens. Even if you want to experience all of the various side quests you can always rent the game a few weeks or months down the line when it will feel relatively new depending on the degeneration of your short-term memory.

Unlike previous Medal of Honor titles, European Assault offers more freedom and exploration. It's presented in a slightly more realistic vein although it still has arcade elements like power-ups and an adrenaline meter.

Playing as OSS officer William Holt, it's your duty and responsibility to free Europe from the grip of the Nazis. Your travels will take you to North Africa and Russia, where you will team up with the Red Army. You will also experience one of WWII's most famous confrontations, the Battle of Bulge, from the perspective of the Americans. There are four areas and 11 missions in all. All of the locations, battles and weapons are historically accurate.

Shooting comprises most of the action. It's not all blazing guns as there are lots of times you will have to take cover not only to avoid being shot but also to ambush and surprise the enemy. There isn't a lot of stealth, only a few moments here and there. You don't feel forced into it.

There are different paths that you can take which gives you a greater sense of freedom. The gameplay doesn't feel as though it's entirely on rails although there are some obvious scripted events and linear paths which are necessary to further the storyline.

For each mission there are numerous side missions. The more you explore the more side missions you'll find. Completing side missions will result in more medals and power-ups. For instance, there are top-ranking German officers that you will be required to kill. These guys are not unlike bosses. They will take more ammo to kill and can be deadly if you let them get the upper hand which you can usually avoid by staying out of open areas. These side quests are self sustaining as you will be awarded with things that will help you continue searching and engaging in other side quests.

Weapons include handguns, submachine guns, sniper rifles, grenades and bazookas. The control system is about as easy as it gets. The aiming is somewhat forgiving but still challenging.

A new feature of the series is the squad commands. Your guys will follow your lead for the most part and shoot at seemingly random enemies, but they act a little green for OSS men as they don't always take proper cover. They will stand in the open like a sitting duck, or is that a standing duck? It's your call if you want to waste a med kit on them. You're not penalized for loosing squad members, so you might just want to save the med kits for yourself.

Your adrenaline meter fills with each kill. When it's full you can release a time-limited attack that gives you unlimited ammo and invincibility. There are times when this is necessary as you find yourself overwhelmed by the enemy.

European Assault won't win any awards for graphics, in fact there are some places where it gets downright ugly. The character models look low res and they move about as if they have really bad arthritis. The environments are better looking but appear somewhat sterile and not as gritty as you would expect for places in the theatre of war. The voiceovers are fine and the music is as good as anything I've ever heard in an epic war movie. The weapons are tight and punchy as you've come to expect.

The tired old Deathmatch may squeeze a few extra hours of enjoyment out of this game but it's just too generic for my tastes. An online mode would have been a much better addition and may have influenced my recommendation of a rental into a purchase.

Preview by Vaughn

Medal of Honor Dogs of War underwent a name change to European Assault. Handy, since the abbreviation of the title becomes Medal Of Honor: EA. That's an example of the marketing geniuses at Electronic Arts earning their pay.

The subtitle wasn't the only thing to undergo change. Since the inception of the series originally debuting on the PSone, Medal Of Honor has been a fairly linear affair. Each level provided certain objectives while you attempted to go from Point A to Point B. Eurpoean Assault will take a different approach, allowing players much more freedom and therefore, will be a far more dangerous experience, emulating the unpredictability of war. The scripted events that were necessary to move the story forward in previous installments have been toned down greatly to enhance this new direction so it feels less like you're playing a game. EA (the developer) calls this the "open battlefield" model and we readily agree that breathing some new life into an old favorite is the way to go at this time.

An addition that has us slightly scratching our heads is what EA refers to as "Nemesis" which is a pseudo boss-style battle located in each level. Not set up as a traditional boss battle, these Nemesis encounters will allow you to put a face to the enemy. You won't have to learn intricate patterns to triumph nor will they be hulking zombies or 30 foot tall robots; in fact, they won't even be that much harder to beat which ties into the reality of the game.

What really has us scratching our heads is the decision to not take the game online. 4 player splitscreen play is a dinosaur and we were hoping to see the MOH series take war to a whole new level. In their defense, EA came right out and admitted that they wanted to focus on creating a great single player experience first and foremost and that they felt they could not match that same intensity online.

Eurpoean Assault is scheduled for a mid November release and that's far enough away that we're sure they won't have any problems delivering it. Let's hope this is the shot in the arm for the series that we've been waiting for.

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System: Xbox, PS2, GC
Dev: EA
Pub: EA
Release: Nov 2005
Players: 1 - 4
Review by Cole
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
3.5
GRAPHICS
3.0
CONTROL
4.0
MUSIC/FX
4.0
VALUE
2.0