Medal Of Honor
(Allied Assault)

Still no Series X or PS5? Well no worries because who needs those fancy pants new triple A titles when you could play….Medal of Honour: Allied Assault

A first-person shooter developed by 2015 Inc and published by Electronic Arts. It was released in 2002 and influenced the Call of Duty franchise, the first of which was subsequently released in 2003.

Before starting the game I had to complete basic training, where I was shown all of the controls. I found them easy to manage and at the end of basic training was presented with a dilemma….What difficulty to choose? Given that I actually seemed to have grasped them fairly easily, I decided to go crazy and went for medium. A decision I would come to regret.

Once the main story starts, you play as Lt Mike Powell as you undertake a series of missions across Norway, France and Germany. So let's have a quick rundown..

The opening mission of the game is set in Algeria on the North African front, where you need to rescue a Major Jack Grillo. I thought the game started off fairly easy but then I noticed most of my brother's in arms had been killed in action. So while I was having a great time nailing headshots, I apparently neglected to look after my own squad. I think them all dying may have been intentional though? It was at this point I felt I'd actually made the right decision by choosing the medium difficulty. The game wasn't easy but I was able to breeze through fairly quickly. Then I started the second mission…

During this mission, Powell and Grillo are sent to German-occupied Norway to infiltrate the city of Trondheim, where a Kriegsmarine U-boat is being fitted with a prototype Naxos radar detector. Your mission is to blow up the U-boat then escape. It was going pretty well until it was time to escape. The escaping part took me about 30 mins. The difficulty really ramps up and leaves me with a couple of observations. The AI can be very good shots when they want to be, and it pays to be patient. This particular section seemed to be very tight on health packs so it was difficult reaching the next checkpoint. It wasn't impossible though, so I must say, I was pretty pleased with myself. During this mission you also take on a more stealthy approach and are given a sniper rifle. This chapter did bring to my attention that you need to be careful with ammo. Reloading takes so long I died a couple of times because I needed to reload at inconvenient times

Then the dreaded Operation Overlord opens on Omaha beach. Where you find yourself pelted with bullets and killed within seconds. Again, and again, and again. As with other games from this era, it is a case of trial and error. It did make me begin to question my choice of difficulty level though. After securing the beach, Powell is sent into the countryside beyond the beaches to assist various American units who are being harassed by Nebelwerfers. The difficulty of this mission varies greatly, with the latter part being much more manageable.

The mission following this, where you have to assist Manon Batiste with various acts of sabotage behind enemy lines, was easy in comparison to everything else we've been through so far. And can I just take a moment to highlight that some of the faces in this game border from janky at best, to truly horrific at worst.

I feel like the game, at times, decides to lure you into a false sense of security. There is a chapter in the next mission called sniper's last stand, which is just something else. The AI have accuracy akin to someone using aim bots. I mean seriously, how am I supposed to do this? Unlike when I was attempting to play Half-Life, I didn't seem to have any access to cheats in order to quickly progress past this level. So I took the old fashioned approach of repeatedly sacrificing myself to work out where these damn sniper's were. Eventually I resorted to allowing my husband to complete the level for me. This part was so frustrating I lost track of what the actual mission was, which is to hijack a King Tiger tank and use it to secure a bridge at the city of Brest. Once you get to use the tank, the mission becomes significantly more enjoyable.

The final mission of the game takes Powell to Fort Schmerzen, where you are parachuted into the woods and need to take out some flak guns. The beginning of this mission is particularly difficult . The main issue being that the graphics were holding me back from being able to spot where the enemies were. Following this you destroy a communications outpost and then escape. The escaping bit was ridiculously hard with aim-bot AI spawning in right in front of you. I tried to wait them out too, but they just kept on coming. The only option being to power through to the next checkpoint. Finally you travel to Fort Schmerzen, which is also a mustard gas producing facility, blow it the hell up, then escape.I did encounter an unfortunate issue where I started a checkpoint with only 2 HP and was immediately killed, forcing me to reload to an older checkpoint. This is starting to be a trend with these older games, as I had the same issue with half-life 2. I would also recommend saving as often as possible, as the game’s checkpoints aren’t always very generous.

Aside from being terribly inconsistent in difficulty across the different missions, I really can't find any fault with the story. Each mission has a tight narrative and is perfectly self-contained. The section on Omaha beach was groundbreaking at the time and is still equally exhilarating and tense to play today. Each level is extremely linear, deliberately making you stick to a clear path with little to no opportunity to explore your surroundings. I'm usually a fan of a more open world game, but for something story-driven, it works just fine, just like the uncharted games for example.

Allied Assault is available on Origin and I had to spend a little bit of time making it look it's best self. First things first, pop over to the video options and crank everything up to max. I did the same with the audio options but that made it sound all crackly through my headset. You can also change the config files to allow you to play in 1920 X 1080 resolution. Once the game was open, I also found myself unable to switch applications with Alt+Tab. Instead, simply press Alt+Enter to make the game windowed, then you can use Alt+Tab to do whatever you need to. To go back to full screen, just press Alt+Enter again. It's a little fiddly I suppose, but only an issue if you want to switch applications whilst playing.

The game can also be a little buggy when launching and would occasionally crash. That may have been my fault though for altering the config files. Just boot it up again though and it will be fine. Even new games crash though so let's not hold it against the oldies. The majority of the time though it ran smoothly and with a decent FPS, which is also smoother when running the game in full screen rather than windowed.

The controls are pretty easy to manage, thankfully and are pretty standard. There is no option to sprint though, as you're technically always running. It can feel frustratingly slow though, especially when you're trying to dodge invisible snipers. The tanks can also be a bit cumbersome to control, but then again, they are tanks.I also had consistent issues where I automatically slide down slopes when stationary, which is inconvenient on rougher terrains. Overall I felt that the controls aren't what make this game difficult, but it's AI. So anyone should be able to get to grips with the gameplay fairly easily.

There is a fine selection of weapons available during this game, all of which were in use during World War 2. One notable weapon is the M1 Garand, which you can only reload once the magazine is empty. This adds an extra layer of difficulty, as the weapon also takes a long time to reload. It's a satisfying single-shot rifle though, so I did enjoy it on occasion. You can't just pick any weapon you want though until you can start looting dead German's for their MP4's. The game will usually present you with weapons relevant to the mission. And I knew I wasn't in for much fun when I was presented with the silenced pistol.

I enjoyed both the sniper rifles. The Springfield and the KAR98. Again, the slow reload times can be quite frustrating though, particularly during the part where you have to defend the bridge from being blown up in Brest. A poorly timed reload would give the AI chance to run across and blow up the bridge. The BAR is also a tonne of fun and doesn't need reloading often, so you can pepper bullets everywhere with no consequences.

The main takeaway from the weapons is they're all pretty fun, but make sure you are able to take cover to reload. I did also find that occasionally I was firing at near point-blank range but didn’t seem to be hitting the enemy. My aim isn’t that bad, honestly. I did just put this down to the game’s age though

I haven't mentioned this yet, but the soundtrack to Allied Assault is phenomenal. I found myself just wanting to sit and listen to the music playing in the background of the menu screen rather than playing the game. The music was composed by Michael Giacchino, who has also worked on Call of Duty and TV and film productions such as Lost, Fringe, the recent Spider-Man movie and Doctor Strange, to name but a few.

Combine the music with an engaging storyline and Allied Assault really stands the rest of time. I occasionally found the graphics took me out of the atmosphere and made the game too difficult during stealth missions, but at the end of the day the game is nearly 20 years old. Overall I'd definitely recommend checking it out. But remember, there's no shame I'm playing the easiest difficulty, which I'd definitely suggest if you want to just enjoy the story. 

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