The battle is in your hands with "Medal of Honor"
November 11, 1999
By John Robinson
(CNN) -- You're all alone and behind enemy lines. Even though you have plenty of weapons, only wits can save you from going home in a box. That is the basic premise behind "Medal of Honor", a first-person shooter set in Germany during World War II. The PlayStation hasn't seen many first-person shooters like this and especially one that isn't ported over from the PC.
Two years ago to the day, "Medal of Honor" started as an idea straight out of the mind of one of the greatest movie directors of our time, Steven Spielberg. To ensure the game provided an authentic experience, Spielberg also employed the military know-how of retired Marine Captain Dale Dye. Dye has served as military advisor on several big budget Hollywood projects such as "Platoon" and most recently, "Saving Private Ryan".
"Medal of Honor" is a mission-based game where you have to complete a set of objectives before you can move on to the next level. While blasting your way through the levels might seem like a lot of fun, that's not what this game is all about. Some missions emphasize stealth while others do require using a bit of firepower to meet the objectives.
Like most mission-based games, the first few missions are pretty easy and allow you to get the hang of how to move and, more importantly, aim. The later levels add more complex objectives and smarter enemies to the mix. In addition to the single player game, a multi-player deathmatch allows you to play a weapons-laden game of hide and seek with your friends.
One of the most frustrating things about playing a first-person shooter on a console has always been aiming. Using a gamepad to aim can be very hard to master, especially when you are being shot at. Most games of this genre have a nice feature that automatically centers the gun as you move from one target to the next. Unfortunately, "Medal of Honor" doesnt have this feature. Learning to manually center the weapon will often result in approaching an enemy only to find out your gun is pointed at the ceiling.
The best way to master "Medal of Honor" is learning how to use the strafe buttons effectively. In addition to the strafe buttons, there is also a button that lets you kneel down to avoid being seen, a very effective way of staying alive.
It wouldn't be right to provide this review without once mentioning that "Medal of Honor" feels a lot like "Goldeneye 007" for the Nintendo 64, at least as far as gameplay is concerned. If you have ever played "Goldeneye 007" or looked at video game sales charts, you'll know that can be taken as a huge compliment.
The look of "Medal of Honor" is all it's own and one of the coolest parts of the game. The menus and loading screens all have a well-worn, authentic World War II look. For example, when you enter your name, it's on a screen that looks like a battered manual typewriter. In-game graphics are pretty good if a little pixelated and the only real problems are some minor clipping and occasional slowdown. Both of these problems do not in any way hurt the playability of the game.
The sound that accompanies "Medal of Honor" is also very original. Enemy footsteps can be heard as they approach and even though they are speaking German, you can usually tell if they are after you. Ambient sounds are abundant and you will hear things like dogs barking and planes flying overhead as well as the gunfire aimed in your direction. The music is an original orchestral score and fits the mood beautifully. If you really like it, you can even buy a copy of the soundtrack separately.
Far and away the most striking thing about "Medal of Honor" is that it offers an original experience in a genre that has rarely been tried on the PlayStation, or on consoles in general for that matter. Despite some minor control and graphical problems, it manages to deliver a game that looks good, sounds good and is very challenging to play.
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