Medal of Honor

Game Description: Considered by many to be the best first-person shooter on the PlayStation, Medal of Honor immerses you in WWII with authentic weapons, enemies, missions, and environments as you try to help the Allies win the war. Gamers get to use 12 authentic period weapons including the Tommy gun, grenades, and the powerful bazooka. The game has 30 3D levels and frighteningly good AI, resulting in the best WWII-era shooter to ever grace the PlayStation.

Medal of Honor – Review

This may be a bit of speculating on my part, but after watching his buddy George Lucas and his company LucasArts become a successful software powerhouse since the early days of Point & Click classics like Zak Macraken and Maniac Mansion, my guess is that Steven Spielberg must have gotten tired of being a mere spectator. Not to be outdone by his 'Film School Generation' compadre, Spielberg expands his recently formed media empire (with fellow moguls Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen) Dreamworks SKG into the videogame industry by setting up Dreamworks Interactive and then putting them hard at work on realizing his vision of a Saving Private Ryan-esque game. Thankfully, I assume Spielberg has more class and integrity then to trivialize and commercialize his own gut-wrenching World War II masterpiece film by brandishing its name directly on to a game. Rather, the developers have done something unique by drawing from the same research and expertise that was incorporated in the film (Captain Dale Dye, the military consultant who trained Tom Hanks and co. for their roles also worked over the developers of the game). The results from the newly formed division is a well-crafted unique vision onto its own called Medal Of Honor (MoH).

The media and public have been quick to refer to MoH as the PlayStation equivalent of GoldenEye 007, Nintendo 64's own legendary first-person shooter (FPS) and I am inclined to agree with these comparisons. Both games incorporate short self-contained stages with mission objectives. Both games have fairly aggressive computer enemies that possess deadly AI (artificial intelligence) and precise hit-detected animations when struck in particular areas (the game even records groin shots. Ouch!). And both games feature competent Multiplayer features (though MoH will only allow two-player battles). Of course the main difference being that MoH is set against the backdrop of one of Histories' major aggressions, WWII while GoldenEye is based on one of film's longest running franchise, James Bond 007.

This distinctive setting cast players as the role of Jimmy Peterson, a soldier who joins the ranks of the elite covert operations unit, OSS trying to stop the Nazis right before the critical juncture of D-Day. The developers have taken the theme and backdrop story very seriously and it shows because the WWII iconography in MoH is captured beautifully not only in the costumes of the characters and the design of the architecture, but it also permeates through the detailed movie-like orchestra scores that make up the background music. It further radiates through the interface and menu choices that are all cleverly represented in metaphor (i.e. Save and loading menus are depicted as office desktop 'In-Out' boxes and control options are handled by timely fashioned radio dials.) There's also vintage full-motion video footage 'educating' the player of past events and relevant information during mission briefings and successfully completed mission. More importantly, the WWII theme should be integrated into the gameplay and in MoH is successful in that respect as well. Mission environments and objectives have a level of authenticity, depth and dimensionality rarely found in videogames because they are partly based on actual historical events and operations like sabotaging enemy equipment and weaponry or infiltrating Nazi bases undercover. Players are also given a selection of time appropriate weapons that doesn't go overboard with any wildly sci-fi absurdity.

The only real issue I had with was that MoH is that while its billed as a sophisticated World War II (WWII) simulation, that grandiose declaration can't mask the final presentation from what it really is, an aging first-person shooter. Had MoH had been released at around 2 years ago when GoldenEye rocked the charts, the graphics and visual style would have been hailed as cutting edge. But today, inspite of maximizing the aging PlayStation hardware to its fullest, MoH still looks extremely dated and technologically unimpressive. Graphical 3D glitches and lack of the latest special effects are all too apparent. The gameplay while having interesting and clever twists due the WWII setting, also have a bit of that 'been there, done that' feeling. Nothing seems revolutionary, but rather evolutionary and even the Dual Shock controller (don't even think of trying MoH without one) which I thought would be ideal for FPSs, didn't perform as well as expected.

Like I said, earlier, had MoH been released at around the same time as GoldenEye, you'd be hearing me singing a much higher tune and dubbing it the 'GoldenEye Killer'. But like many of today's PlayStation games, despite possessing some truly extraordinary qualities, they seem a little late coming out of the gate. Stylistically and conceptually, MoH is a smoking contender that's bogged down by the technological limitations of the PlayStation. Still this game is game with good production values with nothing to be ashamed off. There's plenty for developers and Spielberg to be proud of. Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Medal of Honor – Second Opinion

Pretender. Wanna-be. Unoriginal. When I heard people comparing Medal of Honor (MoH) to GoldenEye 007 I was ready to toss all the slurs its way. But after a few honest rounds during the game I found that I was judging it too quickly and harshly. Like Chi I agree that for the most part, it is deserving of the comparison and holds up pretty well but I can't get past the fact that GoldenEye is an old game and MoH having been so recently released is not even an improvement. The three things I take issue with are the graphics, control and multi-player modes. To start with the graphics are really unimpressive. When I booted it up and saw the FMV and the well done menu screens I had high hopes for the game but as soon as I got to the first level, I was shocked to see the pixelated, low-res mess that I'd have to spend hours playing through. It's probably for this reason that so many levels take place at night or in deep dark cavernous areas. This seems to be an old trick used in the industry to mask pop-up, pixelization and other graphical deficiencies that appear in the game.

The second shortcoming is the control. Chi only touched on it but I think it is deserving of more attention. GoldenEye benefited from having six face buttons and a Z-trigger. MoH lacks both so they resorted to using the L and R buttons. This isn't the fault of the developer because there were no other options but during intense action having to reach for the L1 to crouch, R2 to fire, or whatever essential actions are assigned to these hard to reach buttons, can cause a lot of mistakes. All in all it's the fact that the PlayStation analog controller is perfect for maneuvering an "Ape Collector" across a landscape but is ill-suited for a first-person-shooter. Having said that I feel for anyone without a Dual Shock controller because everything gets even more complicated with fewer buttons and joysticks at your disposal.

The third and final misstep is the multi-player mode. This is what got GoldenEye on Blockbuster's top rental list up to a year after it's release and makes it one of the best selling games to date. MoH stumbles big time by not having a four-player mode and falters further with such a mediocre two-player mode. The dark graphics (again to hide graphical shortcomings) are not the best for fast paced multi-player action. Half the time I couldn't even see Chi or Chi couldn't see me until we were right on top of each other. That made for a lot of walking around searching for each other while trying not to get lost in the darkness. It just was not fun to do any of that and to be honest that should have been a major concern to the developer. MoH is not horrible but everything in the game has been done and done better might I add, years ago. As authentically as they get the WWII era, DreamWorks was off target in the gameplay department, hence the lower score. Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Medal of Honor – Consumer Guide

According to ESRB, this game contains: Animated Violence

For parents, the seriousness and integrity with which Medal Of Honor takes its historical subject and tries to be somewhat educational at the same time, makes Medal Of Honor a great game for mature kids and teens who are interested in contemporary history as well as action games. But make no mistake that the violence in Medal Of Honor reflective of actual war, brutal and unflinching. So parents with children 12 and under, might want to take special consideration before picking up this well produced title.

No matter how impressive Medal Of Honor is for the PlayStation, PC Gamers with their 3D accelerators capable of huge textures and 32-bit color will laugh their asses off when they see it. Medal Of Honor is perfect fodder for PC gamers whom love to get into flamewars with Console gamers about system superiority.

For PlayStation owners, if you believe in better late then never, you're gonna love Medal Of Honor. It may not look all that pretty, but it got its where it counts; style and gameplay. And make sure you have Dual Shock controller because the analog control will make a world of difference towards ease of control.  

Multiplayer gamers will be disappointed the Medal Of Honor doesn't allow 4-player Deathmatching and while the two-player competitive modes are decent, expect overly dark stages making hunting a little tougher then I would have liked.