Summary: Medal of Honor was one of the best singleplayer first-person shooters ever. It started the trend of creating heavily-scripted "experiences" as opposed to games. Not that we're complaining, but it's getting a little long in the tooth.
Medal of Honor already had an expansion in the rather above-average Spearhead. Following the Allied campaign into Ardennes, Spearhead provided a decidedly short look at the Battle of the Bulge. In the tradition of Medal of Honor, there was plenty of scripting and action, and little mindless running around.
There are several new weapons thrown into the mix but few are worth noting, except the 40-round Moschetto submachine gun. The rest of the guns are simply too similar to what the player had in previous games.
A noteworthy and irritating gameplay departure is that you can no longer pick up ammo off dead enemies. You could hear them firing guns. You could see them firing guns. You could get hit by the bullets those guns fired, but damn you if you can find the gun on the enemy once heís dead. Sure, this makes for more of a challenge by forcing the player to conserve ammo, but itís a ridiculous game design decision.
Weapons certainly feel more realistic in Medal of Honor, as foes drop like flies after a few rounds, but that only exacerbates the problem of the player being a giant walking target. Stumbling clumsily around an open area, being knocked around by a dozen rifle rounds before finding your shooter hardly feels like an exceptional game. Medal of Honor has clearly been left behind. A simple solution would have been to decrease enemy accuracy, increase damage and increase player speed.
SIDEBAR: This is going to be one hell of a short review.
Movement and imbalanced realism problems aside, Breakthrough still manages a good singleplayer game. With heavy, non-stop scripting that never lets you realize youíre on rails, it definitely feels like an experience. The only thing comparable to the opening movement (yes, like a symphony) at Kasserine is the Omaha Beach battle from the original Allied Assault.
Indeed, whereas Spearhead started somewhat slow, got very good in the middle and ended on a rather mediocre note, Breakthrough follows the MOHAA tradition of a strong and following up with a mixed bag. Some missions are really great, others feel ridiculously contrived Ė like dropping mortars (of all things) on multiple waves of tanks. I understand that MOHAA is, deep down inside, still an arcade shooter, but I thought weíd given up on Galaga-style games a long time ago. There are several very frustrating scripted sequences, but nothing that a gamer shouldnít be able to pass with a few tries.
Fortunately AIís aim seems to have been toned down a notch as well. Riflemen and snipers arenít always going to hit you, but they still manage a good 80-90% of shots. The player will also get to work with AI teammates more often, and these arenít necessarily the ďfollow meĒ sequences.
Vehicles have been introduced, but if youíre expecting Battlefield 1942, boy, are you ever in for a disappointment. The tanks are quite clumsy, despite offering the advantage of a 3rd person point of view. Driving one is probably much more akin to the difficulties faced by real tank drivers, but thatís not necessarily a good thing.
The one conclusion thatís impossible to escape is that Medal of Honor is old. The AI is just plain stupid. Enemies will stand right in front of you, firing their bolt-action rifles once every 5 seconds, as you reload your 30-round Sturmgewehr in preparation for a massacre. The multiplayer is clearly past its best-before date. Battlefield 1942 hasnít aged one bit, while itís plain to see that MOHAAís attraction is clearly fading.
Moreover, the once-great animation looks as clumsy as the movement feels in the game. Enemies and friends alike will do startling, abrupt motions in the middle of combat, almost as if frames of animation are missing. One moment a Wehrmacht officer is running towards you, the next heís standing stiff as a board, and a fraction of a second after that his pistol is leveled at your head. Itís all very sterile and not dynamic at all.
Sound effects are absolutely fantastic. Guns and explosions have a sharpness, clarity and shameless loudness to them that puts the timid sounds from Max Payne 2 to shame. Speech is recorded fantastically, but Iíd swear that the Brit accents are fake.
SIDEBAR: I told you, short review.
SIDEBAR: I wonder of Dan is going to kill me over this review.
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Wow, Jakub laid down the law. Judge Dredd style. Maybe he should rename himself to Jakub Dredd so all the little boys and girls can tease him? Yeah, why not. But does MOHAA: Breakthrough deserve such a beating just for being old? You decide, and let us know in the news comments. So Sound Off! soldier.
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