Medal of Honor: European Assault|
By: Matt C. on July 5, 2005
Just in time for Memorial Day and the D-Day anniversary comes yet another Medal of Honor game for the PlayStation 2. In the previous installment in the series, Medal of Honor: Rising Sun, Electronic Arts tried something different by having the game take place during the Pacific theater of war. However, as you can tell by the title, Medal of Honor: European Assault brings the popular franchise back to Europe. All together, there are 11 missions divided up between four campaigns. You'll help the British at St. Nazaire, assist the Desert Rats in North Africa, fight alongside the Russians on the eastern front, and join up with American troops during the Battle of the Bulge.
Sadly, European Assault is a rather short game and can be beaten in around 10 hours (give or take 1 or 2 hours). To be fair, Medal of Honor has always been based around real missions and events, so EA can't just whip up new fictional levels to keep you occupied. And there are some missions that you'll probably want to play through again, but the lack of online gameplay and significant bonuses leaves the game feeling a bit bare, stripped down, and rushed. At least there's a four-player split-screen mode with tons of different game type options and plenty of fun well-designed levels -- although I still can't see very many people spending many hours with that mode.
Anyway, enough griping about Medal of Honor: European Assault's short length. What we have here is a solid game with an entertaining single-player mode. I'll admit that I've been spoiled a bit by the superior PC World War II titles such as Call of Duty, but European Assault still manages to hold up well against the competition. For example, many missions in the game now features nice wide-open environments that allow the player to take different paths (with some routes being more dangerous than others). In fact, sometimes you can't help but stop and admire how massive some of the stages are. At times, the framerate suffers because of this, but for the most part, everything remains smooth.
Another new feature is the ability to control your own small squad of troops. You can issue them simple commands to move to a certain area without you, or recall them back to your position. Although the soldiers under your control are actually pretty decent at killing enemies for you (mostly in more enclosed areas), they are honestly more effective at being decoys. On a good note, they are always moving and hiding to make them harder to hit, but they also often get in your way or get stuck out in the open as they are being shot at while they wait for you to help them. Fortunately, you don't need to keep them alive to move on in the game but you can earn rewards if you do keep them alive by giving them your medkits.
On top of that, there is an adrenaline meter that fills up when you get head shots, heal squad members, and perform other tasks. When the meter is full, you can slow down time, get unlimited ammo, and gain invincibility for a short period of time. It's a bit strange having this in a game based around real events. In addition, many missions have a high-ranking Nazi boss character that you can fight if you want. In the instruction book, it says boss characters (who are optional -- you don't always have to fight them) are trained to withstand a lot of pain and punishment. In fact, you can unload an entire clip into them or fire a bazooka round and they will still survive. The whole thing feels silly in this franchise.
As for the enemy AI, it is usually pretty decent. When you have a sniper rifle, enemies sometimes know you have one, and will take cover and try and stay there until you give up and move your cross-hair elsewhere. One aspect I like with the AI is that they won't always target you and will sometimes go after your allies instead. However, one pet peeve I have in shooters are enemies who automatically know where you are. Going around and sneaking up on soldiers is near impossible, and if you do manage to do it, you better take them out quickly or they will magically become aware of your position before you fire a single shot.
And unlike other games in the series, you're going to have to take cover a lot more often if you want to survive. In fact, half of the gameplay in most levels is running behind objects and peaking/leaning out from cover to take shots at the enemy. If no cover is available, you can crouch or go completely prone to avoid getting hit. I don't have a problem with this, but it's worth mentioning for people who would rather just run around and shoot everything without much thought.
Medal of Honor: European Assault looks about as good as we could expect on the PlayStation 2. Most levels feature very wide open and spacious environments, and buildings and such are well designed with convincing looking damage to roofs and walls from bombings and other explosions. And when you would expect it, there are usually plenty of both friendly and Nazi soldiers on screen at once without much slowdown. Textures look decent as well. The only problem with the graphics that sticks out in my mind is the same old recycled animations that you'll often see the computer controlled enemies doing over and over again. Other than that, European Assault is a solid looking PS2 game.
As with all the Medal of Honor games, European Assault has very convincing weapons sounds and explosions, along with good voice acting. And when it is quiet, you can often hear sounds from far away battles. The music is nice too.
Out of all of the Medal of Honor games and Call of Duty for the PlayStation 2, Medal of Honor: European Assault is the best out of the bunch in my opinion. Although I would much rather play World War II games on the PC, European Assault's single player mode was very entertaining while it lasted and I consider it to a solid PS2 shooter. But I still can't ignore the missing online mode and lack of bonuses and goodies, which really hurts the replay value. Nonetheless, if you enjoy first person shooters like I do, you should definitely give this game a try.