It can be argued quite effortlessly that the allied conflicts during the second world war were represented disproportionately compared to those of the first world war, or indeed any other war in modern history. Among the dozens of such games was Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. This particular Medal of Honor game is significant because it marks he first venture of EA’s franchise to the PC platform. It’s also a WWII game played from the US perspective starting in 1942, and players will be happy to know that it’s an enthralling, cinematic experience that’s still worth a review 14 years after its original release.
One of the stand-out features of Allied Assault is its dramatic, action-packed gameplay. The game’s missions are interspersed with cut-scenes but mainly consists of user-controlled gameplay that manages to be a brilliant mixture of tense, cinematic, and immersive. The game is played from the first-person perspective of course, but even to this day you’re unlikely to encounter a game that’s quite as action-packed and beautifully cinematic as Allied Assault was in its heyday.
You play as Lt. Mike Powell of the OSS who is sent on a variety of missions starting in 1942. These missions range from your standard blow-up-the-enemy objectives – you’ll encounter various machine-gun nests, sniper posts, and general scenes of nasty Nazis running on the screen waiting to be shot – through to the tenser missions which involve going undercover and infiltrating tactical positions of the Nazi regime.
Though these missions may sound a little par-for-the-course when it comes to WWII shooters, Allied Assault’s execution of each mission is anything but standard procedure. Enemies actually fight back and provide a challenge instead of standing like sitting ducks. Then there’s the missions themselves, which are incredibly well-designed and executed.
The invasion of Normandy is one of the game’s most memorable scenes, recreating the D-Day landings in a fashion that simply had not been done this way before (and it can be argued hasn’t been done since). 2015 Inc truly came into their own as developers with the D-Day mission, which is unbelievably difficult, loud, and as hectic as one would expect it to be. Expect to die, over and over, and expect your fellow soldiers to be mowed down by the dozen as well.
Graphics and Sound
While Allied Assault’s graphics most certainly look dated today, at the time of release they were of a very good standard. Granted the models seem a little blocky, but the design of the weapons/items are historically accurate and the sense of action and danger (particularly in the D-Day landings mission) is extremely pronounced, enhanced greatly by the fantastic level design and details in the graphics.
What truly stands out about Allied Assault however is the sound. This applies to the sound effects to a certain extent – weapon sounds are sublime, the dialogue is excellent (Germans speaking German and not German-accented English), explosions are immediate on the ear, and ambient sound is rich and atmospheric – but the real gem of the audio is the game’s score. Composed by Michael Giacchino (Fringe; Jurassic World; The Incredibles; Star Trek: Into Darkness), the music is theatrical and sets the perfect mood for each mission with memorable motifs and themes running throughout. The most impactful soundtrack however is that of the Normandy Landings, where the only music playing is the sound of gunfire, explosions, and the chilling screams and exclamations of soldiers dying all around you.
Medal of Honor: Allied Assault is simply one of the best WWII shooters of all time. It holds its own even to this day thanks to a truly memorable soundtrack and in particular its fantastic level design. The D-Day landings are memorable for all the wrong reasons of course, but Allied Assault manages to recreate the tension and terror of the event better than anyone has been able to since.
The weapon models are historically accurate, the missions are varied in their approach, and the multiplayer augments the action to a considerable degree, making this one of 2015 Games’ finest games and Medal of Honor’s (now on its fourteenth instalment) finest hour.