Sunday 14 August 2016

Medal of Honor (PS1 review)

Developer: DreamWorks Interactive
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Released: 1999

Medal of Honor is a first-person shooter that's exclusive to the Sony PlayStation.

You play as Jimmy Patterson and your mission is to disrupt the Nazi war machine and help end WWII. The compass in the top-left shows your direction, as well as the location of enemies when you take damage. It also acts as a life bar, and can be topped-up by finding health kits. The gameplay involves completing objectives in the game's seven missions, killing enemies and avoiding setting off alarms. These objectives are varied and interesting, and include blowing up enemy vehicles with explosives, penetrating a Nazi fort, and releasing valves to unleash deadly mustard gas. There's a real grittiness and desperation to the action and the game cleverly puts you in situations where you need to manage weaponry (e.g. switching to long-range grenades to destroy turrets). Enemies react realistically to different body parts when shot and after each mission you're even shown a breakdown of where you hit most! The level design is outstanding with some intimidating wide open spaces, mixed with claustrophobic tunnels and corridors. My only minor niggle is that you can get stuck on the scenery, especially when climbing ladders. Later on there's some cool stealth missions where you go undercover wearing a stolen uniform; while there's some trial and error you thankfully never instantly fail missions by choosing a more aggressive tact. The graphics are stunning and while the draw distance isn't great the lack of field depth actually helps to keep the action tense. Likewise, the theatrical music is outstanding and becomes more dramatic when enemies are alerted to your presence.
Medal of Honor is a premier first-person shooter that's aged well due to its great controls, superb level design and awesome mission structures. It's deeply atmospheric and movie-like throughout, and does a fantastic job of putting you in the shoes of an isolated soldier during World War II.

Random trivia: The game's story was originally conceived by film director Steven Spielberg.

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