Medal of Honor: Allied Assault Breakthrough
A while ago I enjoyed playing a game called Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. It was one of the best first person shooters to have ever come from the stable of Electronic Arts and was developed by the new but very talented studio 2015. The game was original and had one scene that made the game an instant classic: the beach landing on D-Day. Guns and morters shooting full force at the allied forces that were coming from the sea. Explosions all around, men falling down while you were standing next to them… it was one hell of an experience and gave a good view of how insane war can be.
Spearhead was the first expansion for Allied Assault, but today EA delivers us yet another new one. Breakthrough, developed by TKO Software, sets off in Africa where we’ll fight Rommel and then we enter the axis forces in Italy to break the forces of Mussolini’s fascist empire.
I was really anxious to get back in time to experience World War 2 and kick some axis ass so without any hesitation I re-installed Allied Assault on my pc and put Breakthrough over it.
A few minutes later I was ready to go and launched the desired game to find myself in the middle of a sandstorm in Africa… Gunfire from all directions but no enemies to focus at. What the hell is this ?
This short impression of my first experience with Breakthrough nicely shows what you can expect from the expansion. Whether you’re in a sandstorm, a town, or anywhere for that matter: you’ll get shot at but findings the Axis forces is a mess. You may wonder if this is because the AI has improved so much that they’re in constant hiding, but that’s not the case.
Ok, the AI has improved. Enemies will notice when you shoot someone, they’ll duck and run away when you’re shooting at them and they’ll throw handgrenades when you’re in hiding. Very good, but there are still some very obvious flaws.
Everything looks scripted. Enemies will not appear until you’ve reached a certain point or have completed a specific action. If you need to blow up a cannon, you may wander around all you like without noticing anyone while only seconds after you’ve turned that same cannon to pieces, you’ll be surrounded by axis forces shooting at you from every direction possible. Not really believable…
The major problem, however, is the graphics. Allied Assault looked great when it was released but Breakthrough looks dated. The worst thing is the fact that the graphics engine makes it extremely hard to find your opponents. The colors are dark and contain hardly anything but shades of grey, brown or khaki. Also, your enemies can be standing a couple of feet away from you but you won’t notice them until when turning away. It’s often that you look straight at a certain point but don’t see a thing while if you turn away a couple of inches, you’ll notice a german soldier standing at that very same point. Really bad !
I can’t recall having had the same problem in Allied Assault and this downpoint makes it a very frustrating expansion as even on the easier levels, the difficulty seems harder than in the original game. Ok, TKO Software may have thought that people having finished the original would like something with a bit more spice but I don’t find that a good reason to increase the difficulty by making it harder to find your opponents. Especially not if it’s done by a bug in the graphics.
While the AI of your opponents has improved, the allies are stupid as hell. It seems like the only sane man running around in the Allied camp is you !
While enemy forces duck when shot at and go into hiding, your allied buddies like to stand up straight and walk in your line of fire when in the middle of battle. This is especially frustrating when those same buddies have to be resued and having them killed will let you restart the mission.
The missions vary between the usual goals: destroy tanks, get secret documents, rescue allied soldiers, kill everything that moves, … Things become repetitive very fast.
There’s a whole mission where you have to rescue soldiers and thus all you do is go from one place to another, making sure you don’t get shot and protecting soldiers that you’ve just freed. Another mission sees you at one point facing tanks invading a town. All you need to do is shoot morters at them until all of them have been destroyed, but I’ve never seen an army that sends in two tanks from one side, then again two from another side, and repeating this for a couple of times. This only gives me the feeling that EA wanted to expand the time playing the game without adding any original elements.
It looks like TKO thought up a new storyline and added a couple of new maps. The graphics look oldfashioned, the difficulty level is higher but rather because of crappy graphics and less available ammo than because of improved overall gameplay or newly added things.
Repetitive scenario’s and nothing that makes it really stand out of the crowd just adds to the feeling that Breakthrough is a quick cash cow.
If you really want to play this expansion, be sure to know that until you’ve finished it, frustration will become your companion.