Players: 1 to 4 Player Game | Release Date: 11/10/02 | Genre: FPS
Medal of Honor: Frontline puts you right amid the action and turmoil of epic World War II battles. You can feel the gunfire cascading around you on D-day, stowaway on a German sub and find the Enigma code machine, and fire dozens of authentic World War II weapons. These weapons include the Colt .45 pistol, M15 Garand, and that big, trench machinegun that I always used to wish I had mounted beside the register at the video store to ward off customers with late-fee disputes.
Before really delving into the criticism of the game though, I feel the need to comment on the authenticity of the game. In the real World War II, allied soldiers actually very seldom fired any weapons at all. Contrarily, allied soldiers instead relied on their wits to outfox the German war machine, which to the best of my knowledge consisted of two less-than-cunning German officers:
Since you kill at least a thousand Nazis by yourself during the course of the game, the authenticity of the game comes into question. Also, none of the missions involved tricking a fat Sgt. Schultz by impersonating a superior officer or dressing up as a woman.
These faults are quickly forgiven though. For although the battles may well be fictitious, the atmosphere you are placed in is stunningly realistic. In the D-day mission, you are placed as an infantryman on one of the boats, with shells and machinegun fire raining down around you and laying waste to your comrades. The first part of the mission reminded me closely of the same battle in "Saving Private Ryan." The sound effects and graphic representation of the strife were awe-inspiring. You can feel your heart pounding as you desperately make way from one trench to another, attempting to aid allies along the way. This battle in particular gives the feeling of being part of a unit, with you and your computer-controlled allies exchanging cover fire for one another. Your commanding officer issues you orders in the heat of battle, with impressively well-done voice acting. I confess, I've been somewhat apathetic about most PS2 games as of late, but by the dramatic conclusion of this first mission, I found myself marveling at the gameplay and atmospheric effects.
Another of the game's strengths lies in its enemy AI. Enemy soldiers find places to take cover and exchange fire instead of idly standing out in the open between shots. They'll take cover behind posts, in trenches, behind vehicles, etc. The little buggers will also sprint for the heavy mounted machineguns or snipe at you from rooftops then duck and hide. They'll call for allies in German, or at least I think they're calling for allies, as I don't speak German. For all I know they could be asking me to please quit shooting at them so they can finish playing Monopoly.
There are a few drawbacks, of course. In very sparse instances, gameplay would become choppy when fog and lighting effects were present at the same time. Also, sadly none of the missions I played seemed as plausible and realistic as the first one. However, contrived or not, all of the missions were fun. But the main flaw of the game is the lack of any multiplayer mode whatsoever. I hesitate to buy any first person shooter that I can't still enjoy playing with friends after I've completed the single player missions.
The bottom line though is that Medal of Honor: Frontline is the best and most entertaining PS2 game to be released since the flurry of impressive titles at the end of last year. The graphics, sounds, heroic music, and voice acting were all superb. I'd recommend a rental at the very least.