Medal of Honor: European Assault
After the abysmal Medal of Honor: Rising Sun, EA started working on a new console shooter, first known as Dogs of War. They knew this title would have to be a lot better if it were to receive some form of critical acclaim. They spared no expense and gave the job to a big, motivated development team, hoping their new WW2-shooter would become the new benchmark for the genre. Well, they didn’t succeed in that, but at least this game is better than Rising Sun. Way better…
The game starts in St. Nazaire, a German shipyard and U-boat base in occupied France. Together with your British compagnons, you, William Holt, try to infiltrate the docks and sabotage the enemy installations. This is the first campaign of four, the others taking you to North-Africa, Russia and beautiful little Belgium.
There is a story tying the campaigns together, but it’s not even worth mentioning. These four settings are very different from each other, so every level will feel ‘fresh’. However, this approach has one very big side-effect: the game is extremely short. In less than six hours, you can blaze through it, without feeling the urge to play it again. The game has a splitscreen multiplayer that can lengthen the lifespan a bit, but don’t expect any miracles. Personally, I’m not very keen on playing a console shooter in splitscreen and I’m sure many of you will agree. The lack of online play doesn’t do the game any good either, especially if you keep in mind that Rising Sun in fact had a sort of less decent online part to it.
But by the time you’re playing the game, you’ll quicky forget its flaws. European Assault once again succeeds in giving you that overwhelming feeling of being in WW2, something we haven’t seen on our PS2 since Frontline several years ago. Where Rising Sun, Finest Hour and Brothers in Arms have failed, MoH:EA has succeeded.
This is further enhanced by the fact that you are constantly in command of 3 fellow soldiers. Although the team commands are very simplistic (you can only command your team to go somewhere or to assemble at your postion), this is still a nice improvement over the lone wolf approach of its predecessors. Overall, they are blessed with a very decent A.I. , but I’ve also seen them do extremely stupid things. E.g. while I was fighting a tank with grenades, two of my teammates just ran under the tank’s tracks, the second one right after he had seen the first one commit this crazy form of hara kiri.
The levels also feel a lot more open and less linear than Finest Hour for example. Every level consists of two to three main objectives and several hidden secondary goals. Exploring the levels will reveal them. If you’ve competed them, you’ll have more power-ups at the start of the next levels. Often, there are multiple paths to your objectives and you can sometimes come up with nice strategies to beat the Jerries. And believe me, you’ll need those strategies! The enemy gives you fierce opposition, even in Easy, and you’ll die regularly in the last two campaigns. Luckily you can carry eight medikits and several revives at a time. Nevertheless, this game is pretty challenging and even downright hard at times. The final level, for example, will have you swearing and banging your controller against the wall because of the harsh, unfair even, difficulty level.
A new feature to the Medal of Honor series is the adrenalin mode. Shooting enemies fills a gauge and when filled completely, you can go into a state of fury. Your vision goes red, you become invincible and you have infinite ammo for a short time. This is quite a cool gimmick to be honest.
Technically, this game isn’t what you’d expect from an EA game. The game actually looks outdated. It lacks detail, especially in its models and the explosions are nothing to be proud of. When there is a lot of action, the framerate also takes a nose dive, which really spoils the experience. Luckily the game features impressive sound effects, rattling gunfire and deafening explosions that will truly shine on a 5.1 surround system. The European Assault orchestral score is also excellent. The audio department is where the game truly shines.
Medal of Honor: European Assault isn’t a bad game by anyone’s standards, but it could have been truly memorable if it had more levels and a decent online mode. The graphics are also pretty outdated, with regular framerate drops, but the sound more than makes up for this. Try before you buy.