reviews\ May 19, 2002 at 8:00 pm

Medal of Honor: Frontline - PS2 - Review

It was fairly cold outside.  The sky was a mixture of white and gray hues, as if rain had just fallen.

We came in off the coast, dropping one by one like dominos.  Our boat was hit, but somehow we survived.  When our feet hit the ground, metal hit our arms, chest and legs.  Some of us evaded the attack, but most were not so fortunate.

By nightfall, a lot of blood had been shed.  A lot of lives were lost.  A lot of men were dead.  The next day, we would repeat our actions, only this time with more guns, more explosions and more polygons.

As the days passed, the number of enemy soldiers increased.  At one point there were dozens of them.  There was little we could do to fight back.  Despite that I was still standing with a fully-loaded M1 Garand in my hands, I knew that this was the end.  As I peaked around the corner of the building, a tank revealed itself.  Not a second later, blood filled the screen.  The words, "Mission Failed" appeared.  I had lost, but I didn't care.  A mission is just a mission.  The war is what really matters.  And no matter what, I was determined to win this war.

When playing Medal of Honor: Frontline, you get a sense, a feel for war and what it would be like if it were just a video game.  No one wants to experience a real war.  But the essence of war -- the tension, the excitement and the joy of victory -- is perfectly demonstrated in this game.

This game has raised the bar so high that I honestly don't know if any other first-person shooter can top it.  The attention to detail is mind-boggling.  I don't know how they did it, but EA has created a game with enemies that can practically think for themselves.  The soldiers will swarm around you in a deadly strategic pattern.  Their intelligence is amazing.  Some of the soldiers will hide behind crates, while others will come in close and toss a couple grenades your way, hoping to lure you out.  When you launch your counter-attack, they'll be waiting for you.  Be prepared to get shot, and if you're low on health, be prepared to die.  This is war, and these guys mean business.

Most of the stages are really long.  There were times when I'd think the mission was over, and then a set of new objectives is added to my list.  In any other FPS, it'd be too overwhelming.  But in Medal of Honor: Frontline, it could not be better.  Even the slower parts are exciting because of all the enemy soldiers you have to fight.  When you think you can breath, when you think it's time to take a break, more soldiers arrive.  If no more soldiers appear to be around, just move closer to your goal.  A sniper will try to take you out, so watch your head.  Once you've killed him, another sniper will likely appear.  The excitement never ends (until you beat it, in which case you have the joy of playing through it again).

If a gun is at an enemy's disposal, it's at your disposal as well.  More often than not, they are killed by their own weapons!  Machine guns, pistols and grenades are commonly found on a soldier's corpse.  Every now and then you'll come across a cannon or a barricade-mounted machine gun.  If an enemy soldier is using it, take him out!  Then run over and take control of this powerful weapon.  Not only are they a lot of fun to use, but they are also much stronger than the standard guns.  The cannon is strong enough to blow up objects and kill several enemies at once!

Medal of Honor's visuals are stunning.  Every area looks great.  The characters are exceptionally detailed, featuring some of the best mouth movements to date.  The skin texture is comparable to the Resident Evil remake for GameCube, and the animation is very realistic.  The body movements are fluid, but it's the unique animations that really caught my eye.  Enemies will duck, run for cover, lean up against walls and carefully attack (among other things).  When not engaged in combat, you might see them fighting each other, relaxing at a bar or playing the piano.  This adds to the game's realism, making it even more believable.

Everything else looks great, too.  I was really impressed by the explosions.  The environments are not very interactive, but there are key areas that have destructible doors, gates, fences and vehicles (there are other destructible objects as well, but most of them are used merely for graphical purposes).  Interactive or not, the environments look fabulous.  Once again, EA's attention to detail is impeccable.  Dozens of highly detailed buildings can be seen in almost every stage.  Inside the buildings, you'll find desks, lamps, beds, clocks, paintings, book cases, hidden doors, fruit, pots and pans, etc.!

The music and sound effects are absolutely breathtaking.  EA has composed a powerful, epic score that surpasses the mesmerizing soundtrack from Band of Brothers.  Each song is packed with emotion.  As you explore each level and engage in some of the most exciting battles ever created, your ears will be hypnotized by the music.  It gets in your head and never leaves.  Even when I'm not playing the game, the music is in my head.  I hear it in the car, the shower, everywhere!  It makes me wish that EA would release the soundtrack.

I am in awe.  I have never been so compelled to play an action game before.  Medal of Honor has given me one of the greatest experiences that I have ever had playing a video game.  MoH may be a first-person shooter, but for the most part it is a game all its own.  Hands down, this is the best game of the season.  It may end up being the best game of the year, too.  I don't want to be too presumptuous, but if MoH: Frontline had been released last year, it would have easily made it into my "Top 5 Games of the Year" list.  There's no reason why the game won't be king this year.  MoH is so much more than an FPS.  It's the ultimate game of war.

Look for the PlayStation 2 version of Medal of Honor: Frontline to hit store shelves later this month.  A release date has not been set for the GameCube version.

Reviewer's Scoring Details

Gameplay: 9.6
Medal of Honor: Frontline is first-person perfection.  The first level is like the opening sequence from Saving Private Ryan (not as bloody and not quite as violent, but still awesome). When you're on the boat, riding to shore, you can move the camera to look around (as if you were really on the boat). As the camera moves, a faint image of the soldiers appears in the opposite direction.  If you look up, the faint image will be down.  This creates a unique cinematic effect.  It's very cool, and really adds to the mood of the game.  You get a sense of war as you look you're going into battle, and these may be the last few moments you have on earth.  Incredible!

Graphics: 9 
Who would have ever thought that war could be so beautiful?  I'm not sure how many polygons are used in this game, but it must be an extremely large amount because the graphics are gorgeous.

Sound: 9.6
If you've been searching for an excuse to get a surround sound speaker system, look no further than Medal of Honor: Frontline.  The sound effects are just as good as the soundtrack, which is top-notch.  Sometimes the gunfire is so loud that it deafens the music!

This isn't the kind of game that you can play quietly, so be sure to turn the volume all the way up.  If your family members are sleeping, then grab a pair of headphones.  Just be careful not to blow out your eardrum.

Difficulty: Medium
MoH: Frontline's difficulty varies by the mission.  An in-game hint feature has been added for gamers who need a helping hand.  I tried to avoid using it, but I caved a couple of times and it helped me a lot.

Concept: 9
It's not just the concept that I'm praising with my score -- it's mostly the execution.  A concept is only as good as its execution, and EA executed this concept beautifully.  There are dozens, if not hundreds of war games out there.  But none of them put you inside the war quite like Medal of Honor: Frontline.

Multiplayer: N/A

Overall: 9.6
Medal of Honor: Frontline will engross you with its gameplay, mesmerize you with its music and surprise you with its intelligence.


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