First look: Medal of Honor Frontline

Electronic Arts releases detailed information on its PlayStation 2 Medal of Honor game. We also spoke with the game's producer.

At its press event this afternoon, Electronic Arts officially announced Metal of Honor Frontline for the Sony PlayStation 2. This will be the first appearance of the Medal of Honor series on the PlayStation 2, and it is an entirely new development project specifically aimed at Sony's next-generation console. The story of MOH Frontline follows the military exploits of Lt. Jimmy Patterson: He must infiltrate the German frontline and steal the prototype HO-IX aircraft, which was essentially the precursor to the Stealth bombers of today and was so powerful that it could have turned the tide of World War II. According to the producer of Medal of Honor Frontline, the entire story in Frontline takes place between the third and fourth missions of the first Medal of Honor game for the PlayStation. Frontline begins in a small, desolate French town, much like the one that was shown in the final act in the movie Saving Private Ryan, and ends with Patterson and his cohorts stealing the HO-IX aircraft.

MOH Frontline will feature five levels, each including three missions, for a total of 15 missions throughout the game. Each of the missions is based loosely on actual World War II events and locations. They will feature such diverse objectives as destroying a German Naval base, rescuing a captured OSS operative from a Nazi-held Dutch manor house, stowing away aboard a speeding Nazi armored train, and disarming the undercarriage of the Nijmegen Bridge. Additionally, as in MOH Underground for the PlayStation, Lt. Patterson will have a small squad of soldiers in each mission to help him complete his objectives. For example, players can communicate with friendly units to organize military tactics and take out the enemy's commander to throw the troops into disarray.

Several new weapons have also been added to the PlayStation 2 incarnation of the Medal of Honor series. New weapons in Lt. Patterson's artillery include the Liberator Pistol, the Panzerschreck, and the MG42 mounted machine gun, among others. Additionally, the popular and highly effective B.A.R. gun, which first appeared in the original Medal of Honor, will return for this latest game. Players will be able to carry 12 weapons at one time, and there will be a total of nearly 25 weapons available throughout the game, according to the game's producer.

Electronic Arts hopes to portray a truly realistic look and feel for the PS2 game. To that end, it has once again enlisted Capt. Dale Dye as the technical consultant for the game, and the development team has drawn on the expertise of the Smithsonian's HO-IX expert Russ Lee. Composer Michael Giacchino is creating the game's musical score from the ground up, and the sound effects are being developed by AIAS award-winning designer Erik Kraber. MOH Frontline is a collaborative effort in an attempt to re-create a realistic WWII atmosphere on the PlayStation 2.

Following Electronic Arts' unveiling of the game, GameSpot had the opportunity to speak briefly with the game's producer, Scott Langteau, about Medal of Honor Frontline.

GameSpot: Can you talk specifically about some of the new levels in the game?

Scott Langteau: The level designs are more varied than the original games in the series. The first game was very linear, and the second one was slightly better but was still somewhat linear. In MOH Underground we were able to get moving vehicles, buddy characters, and new things like that. Now there are still some linear aspects, but we do have a number of variations that make the game more open than the previous two games.

In one level, you're actually in a courtyard surrounded by a row of houses--and that is very nonlinear. The level takes place outside, inside houses, upstairs, downstairs. It's very dynamic, and you'll see such things as old women playing cards. It is a beautiful level when you start, but by the end of it, there is mass destruction. So, you go through this area of the town and you end up bringing the Nazis in with you. There is also a bridge level where you have to keep the bridge from blowing up--this is based on the movie A Bridge Too Far. But to keep it from being destroyed you have to traverse the entire length of the bridge, and so the whole level takes place on this massive structure. At times you are underneath the bridge and there are snipers atop the bridge. Then at times you have to get to the top level of the bridge to take out the snipers, and you can actually clear out the bunkers when you're up there. Also, there are cool effects. For example, Nazis have cables running alongside the bridge, and you can shoot soldiers off those cables.

GS: What type of character detail can we expect to see?

SL: We have animated character faces and lip-synched facial movements so that you'll be able to see if the character is surprised or scared. You'll see a lot more emotion on the character's faces. This projects a new level of immersion than the previous MOH games, and we're able to do that with the PS2. There are currently 25 actors who are doing the voice-over work, and we're actually recording all the dialogue at the end of this month.

GS: We've heard that you used latex facial models to achieve this high level of detail.

SL: We knew we were going to be able to have defined characters, and we wanted to figure out how we could make them each look different. So, we decided to sculpt facial structures, and it helped the artists articulate those facial features into the in-game characters. The detail on the characters is dropped down the farther the character is from the player.

GS: How many weapons are in the game?

SL: You'll be able to carry 12 weapons at a time. So you'll be able to carry more weapons than in the previous games. There are over 20 weapons--more like 25. The B.A.R gun comes back this time. A lot of people liked it in the first game.

GS: Are there any new vehicle-based missions?

SL: Right now, other than some of the tanks and cycles that we had in Underground, we are hoping to have a level where you're on the back of a truck, you're facing the back, and a group of Nazi motorcycles are chasing you. You have to pick them off and shoot them down. But that level hasn't been confirmed yet and is not one of our official levels.

GS: Any non-combat missions?

SL: Yes, specifically one where you have to infiltrate a German-held manor house.

GS: Are there any plans to include multiplayer options?

SL: Right now there are no plans for multiplayer. We're writing a whole new engine so that we can use it to its full advantage in the single-player game.

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