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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Shooter

 

Publisher

Electronic Arts

 

Developer

Electronic Arts

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q4 2002

 

 

- One of the most atmospheric games of all time
- Solidly designed mission objectives and levels
- A story that makes sense
- Great enemy AI

 

 

- Levels mostly linear
- Default turning speed is too slow
- No mid-level saves can be frustrating

 

 

Review: Splinter Cell (XBox)

Review: TimeSplitters 2 (XBox)

Review: Medal of Honor (360)

 

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Medal of Honor: Frontline

Score: 8.4 / 10

 

medal-honor-frontline-1.jpg (36000 bytes)          medal-honor-frontline-3.jpg (32660 bytes)

 

You know the game your friends talk about? Telling you, “You have to play this one!” or looking at you with contempt when you admit you’ve heard good things but have never actually played it. Sometimes it’s a whole series that may be in question. For me, this was Medal of Honor. At least now I can say, “Well, I played Medal of Honor: Frontline,” and kill two birds with one sniper shot – played a game of a series that has been built into legend status.

While Frontline by itself may not achieve legend status, it’s too good to simply throw on the heap of forgettable or mediocre first-person shooters.

You play as Jimmy Patterson (armed with a variety of different weapons), dropping into his boots just as he’s hitting Omaha Beach on D-Day. This particular scene has received much critical praise and for good reason. From this scene you realize what

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an intense gaming treat you’re in for.

The sound design is simply amazing! If you’ve got a decent sound system, Frontline will rattle your bones and quicken your pulse. Bullets ricochet, German officers shout orders, and distant but approaching footsteps will set you on edge. The subtle and the thunderous combine in such a way as to really make the gamer feel as the hero – and much of

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this must be credited to the fantastic musical score.

As the “crusade” continues, Jimmy has to navigate many different environments such as a German U-boat, the war-torn countryside, and a bridge rigged with high explosives. Thankfully, the story – involving Nazi development of jet aircraft – is such that progression makes logical sense and levels aren’t as disjointed as they could have been. The environments suffer a little (in terms of replay factor) in their very linear approach, but it does help with creating some very tight and well-designed levels that keep the framerate humming while offering plenty of eye-candy.

Subtle nuances are everywhere, not the least of which is the movement of enemy troops. When running across open ground, they weave in an attempt to throw off your aim. They take cover, sometimes firing blindly around corners or over obstructions. When they see a machine gunner has been killed, it’s common for another soldier to break fire and make a dash to man the gun. And they’ll throw grenades back at you. (What a surprise that was the first time it happened!) They all look and move fairly realistic – at least as far as videogames go – and it lends an element of unpredictability to the experience. And thankfully, I didn’t encounter any idiotic AI where a sniped soldier falls down dead next to his buddy who acts like nothing happened.

The default control settings are okay except for the default turning speed. Patterson can take quite a few bullet wounds, but it gets annoying when you’re shot in the back because you couldn’t turn fast enough. (You’ll be thankful for the almost too generous medial kits and field surgeon packs lying around that replenish health.)

Being shot is par for the course during any war. Frontline has the advantage of being able to save your progress between missions, so if Jimmy does bite it you can spring back to life and kill more Nazi’s. However, some missions are long, with death at every turn, so you could be replaying some missions ad nauseum to the point of incredible frustration. Even a couple of mid-mission save points would have alleviated some of the frustration, even at the sacrifice of making the game “easier.”

Multiplayer is a thoughtful touch but it might have received more attention if it was Xbox Live compatible. As it is, the split-screen multiplayer modes can offer a welcome distraction on a rainy afternoon or quiet evening, but it’s not the deciding factor when considering Frontline for your gaming library.

As multi-platform first-person shooters go, Medal of Honor: Frontline has much to offer as one of the most atmospheric games ever. It does have it’s downsides, but it’s still a great game. Do what your friends say. Play it!

- Omni
(January 2, 2003)

 

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