reviews\ Nov 26, 2002 at 7:00 pm

Medal of Honor Frontline - XB - Review

There have been a number of really great Playstation 2 titles that are just recently being introduced to the Xbox crowd (Metal Gear Solid 2 and, awhile back now, Silent Hill 2).  And, fortunately for Xbox owners, the games usually come with extra goodies.  Such is the case of Medal of Honor: Frontline, a great first-person shooter that fans often pointed out was lacking a few things . . . including a multiplayer option.  Well, Xbox owners rejoice, this is our chance to get acquainted with an excellent and enjoyable first-person shooter . . . all this and a multiplayer option to boot! 


You assume the roll of Lieutenant Jimmy Patterson, the hero of the first game in the Playstation series, who finds himself on that boat heading for the beaches of Normandy during the infamous D-Day (as seen in the Spielberg movie “Saving Private Ryan“) during the second World War.  You see the war through Patterson’s eyes and follow him as he is sent on a dangerous mission to uncover a secret Nazi experimental weapon that could spell disaster for the Allied side.  Soon Patterson finds himself knee-deep in top military campaigns such as Operation Market Garden or Overlord (as seen in the HBO mini-series “Band of Brothers“).


Almost immediately you’ll come face to face with the raw intensity of this game.  While not as incredibly violent--there’s no blood or body parts flying around in this game--as a war game is expected to be, the action comes on strongly.  Control-wise, Medal of Honor handles perfectly and its steady frame rate makes this one smooth ride.  You can switch weapons on the fly and sneak up behind unsuspecting Nazis and place a bullet to their cranium.  There’s even an Aim Mode for a more accurate shot, although this mode isn’t so good when the target in question is on the move.  The weapons are all of the period too.  Whether you’re shooting a Colt .45 or pumping round after round of a Thompson machine gun, your arsenal is quite stocked.


The game is separated by different missions or levels each with its own briefings and own objectives.  One mission might have you sabotaging a German U-boat or rescuing an Allied informant.  There’s even an Indiana Jones-styled mine cart run where you get to shoot at Nazi troops as your cart rushes along the tracks.  And the best part about all of this is that you are not often alone in these missions.  There are times when Allied troops are on hand to help you out, giving you cover fire or helping you during intense encounters.  You’ll find several civilians that are eager to see the downfall of the Reich and help you while others are just too frightened to do anything. 


Gamers will be impressed by the intelligence of the computer-controlled enemies.  Many of them will try to find cover as you shoot at them while others don’t rush at you blindly.  They are incredibly perceptive and often sensitive to your brisk movements--as you’ll see for yourself when you come across some sleeping Nazi troopers. 


EA must have been listening to all the complaints about the original game not offering a multiplayer mode because they were thoughtful to include a multiplayer mode in this version.  Anywhere from two to four players can play through two different game types such as Deathmatch and Team.  The Deathmatch game is an all-out battle where the player that reaches the score limit when the time runs out wins the game.  Team puts you and a friend up against another team of to see who score the highest.  You can even select the maps--which have been taken directly from the single player mode.


The game was really gorgeous as a PS2 game and even more so now with the Xbox’s accelerated graphics capabilities.  Surprisingly, though, the game does not look at all that different--which is not a bad thing at all, believe me.  The unavoidable “jaggies” from the original are gone and certain details stand out more now.  The shattered building look amazing as gunfire lights up the remains of some town in Holland.  The soldiers move realistically across the field, their limbs and uniforms look so crisp and authentic.  This is just one of those visual treats.


And speaking of gorgeous, the game’s score that plays throughout the game is just simply beautiful and stirring in the same way a rich film score is.  By far, this is one of the best scores heard in a game.  Keeping the wonderful score company is the great sound effects and voice acting.  It’s thrilling to hear threads of a German tank or spent bullet castings tapping on concrete.  The voices are amazingly rich that you can pin point the location of the German commander just by listening carefully.  You’ll be surrounded by voices as a mother pokes her head out the window to call for her daughter while a German soldier is angrily shouting at a frightened civilian.


An amazing experience from the very start, Medal of Honor: Frontline for the Xbox is still as thrilling as it was the first time around.  For gamers playing this game for the first time, you will be blown away but the raw intensity of the action.  For those who have played the game before, there is no dramatic change except for the phenomenal addition of the multiplayer games.  This one is a real Must-buy either way. 


#Reviewer's Scoring Details


Gameplay: 9.8
The game offers two controller configuration options but you are not limited to just those two.  Either way you slice and dice it, the controls in this game handle like a dream.  Since the game moves along rather smoothly in this version, the action is fast and intense.  The long list of period appropriate weapons is also great, especially for those gamers that want to know what it was like to fire the old Browning automatic rifle.


There are plenty of objectives in each level that either has you photographing secret documents or crashing a mansion dressed as a member of the kitchen staff.  They’re all pretty inventive and extremely fun and, thankfully, can be replayed at any point in the game.


Graphics: 9.7
The amazingly detailed backdrops just draw gamers into the game with its overall depth and beauty.  The green farmlands have flourishing pastures that seem to span on forever as a grand windmill catches on fire in the distance.  And the more savagely destroyed cities are reduced to rubble, the remaining walls pockmarked with bullet holes. 


The soldiers also move and react realistically.  The game is free of blood but you do get to see some really gruesome death scenes.  When you shoot certain soldiers, they grab at their wound, look at their hand and then drop dead.  Some of them are thrown back by the brunt of the bullet or just collapse--their jaws moving as they say something to themselves out loud.   The detailed and expressive faces of each character will also amaze you.


Sound: 10
Seldom does a game’s score reduce players to awe-struck admiration as the score found in this game.  Not only is it hauntingly beautiful but it makes this a truly cinematic experience.  Really, the soundtrack is just one of the game’s many highlights.


There are also amazing sound effects that range from the sharp retorts of the Panzerschreck to the flying Mustangs that pass overhead while explosions and gunfire rip through the battlefront.  The voice acting is also wonderful and done just right with the Nazis barking at you in German or comrades crying out in pain or anger.  If you have a good surround stereo system hooked up to your console, this is the game to have cranked up.


Difficulty: Medium
Thanks to the sharp-as-a-tack intelligence of the computer-controlled enemies, the Nazi forces put up something of a challenge.  The enemy forces you to use your combat-minded intuition by coming up with strategies beyond just going in with guns blazing.  Shoot a gunner and another soldier makes a mad dash for the machine gun turret to take his fallen comrade’s place.  The enemy also makes good use of grenades to try to flush you out. 


Concept: 9.8
From the opening sequence on the beaches of Normandy to the final confrontation in the secret weapons facility, the game’s designers kept realism in mind all the way through.  The game also feels cinematic, with its cleaver interweaving of actual war footage and real-life military campaigns such as Operation Market- Garden.  Add plenty of level objectives and characters to interact with and you have a gaming experience with plenty of combat. 


Multiplayer: 9.5
A feature that should have been included in the PS2 version of the game, the multiplayer option just adds more fuel to an already well-lit fire.  Up to four players can join into the fray as Axis or Allied troops with the action seen in split-screen fashion (it’s split four ways if you’re playing a four-player game).  The two multiplayer games, Deathmatch and Team, are just even more thrilling with four players.


Overall: 9.2
One of the PS2’s most enjoyable first-person shooters is now an even more enjoyable Xbox game with its small visual boost and great multiplayer option.  Those unlucky souls that did not get a chance to play the Playstation 2 version will find this a stimulating war experience.  Do not miss this one.


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