Medal of Honor Pacific Assault Review
Pacific Assault delivers some intense and challenging firefights in its single-player campaign, while also offering a solid multiplayer component for the long haul.
- Believable Pacific theater environments
- Often-impressive enemy artificial intelligence
- Some cool verge-of-death moments
- Solid objective-based multiplayer mode.
- Long loading times
- Some occasionally buggy artificial intelligence
- System hog--tough to get smooth frame rates out of this one.
Nearly three years ago, Electronic Arts brought its Medal of Honor series of World War II-themed first-person shooters to the PC in Medal of Honor Allied Assault, and that game went on to become highly influential. By combining intense run-and-gun shooting action with an incredibly authentic atmosphere and some spectacular set-piece battles, Allied Assault helped establish the genre's current high standards. Seemingly countless other historic war-themed shooters have been released since then, so it's become very difficult for such a game to distinguish itself...or even compete. Nevertheless, developer EALA was apparently up to the challenge with Medal of Honor Pacific Assault, which takes the series into the Pacific theater of WWII and once again delivers some intense and challenging firefights in its single-player campaign, while also offering a solid multiplayer component for the long haul. Pacific Assault has a few rough edges (long loading times, chiefly among them) and is demanding of even today's fastest PCs, but it ultimately succeeds at delivering a Hollywood-style World War II experience, and it also features a few unique twists.
Pacific Assault features a good-sized single-player campaign consisting of roughly two dozen missions, which will take you 10 or so hours to fight through at the game's default difficulty setting. Whereas Allied Assault clearly drew inspiration from Saving Private Ryan, Pacific Assault kicks off with an ostentatious bang straight out of Pearl Harbor and proceeds to deliver some tense, cutthroat action sequences (juxtaposed with a few thoughtful story bits designed to make the game's characters seem more human) reminiscent of The Thin Red Line. Throughout the game, you'll play as a Marine named Tommy Conlin, and you'll fight together with the rest of his squad. As Conlin, you'll get to wield a variety of authentic Allied and Axis WWII-era weapons, ranging from pistols to light machine guns, and you'll be able to issue some basic orders to your squad. At one point, you'll get to fly a plane. But, for the most part, you'll be stalking through dense jungle underbrush while hoping to get a drop on your enemies before they do likewise. Your foes will often literally come out of the woodwork, attacking you in waves and sometimes charging you savagely with their bayonets. They're consistently daunting foes--and not just because they'll constantly have greater numbers. They'll take advantage of cover, flush you out with grenades, and seem to work in tandem to defeat you.
The campaign occurs during the course of several years, which gave the designers license to change some of the weapons, outfits, and settings from mission to mission. Pacific Assault starts off slowly, with a drawn-out training sequence and sort of a guided tour of Pearl Harbor (leading up to Japan's surprise attack), but afterwards, the game's action mostly stays hot. You'll operate in such places as Guadalcanal, Makin Atoll, Tarawa, and more. These tropical settings and the fearless Japanese soldiers you'll be facing in each of them stand in sharp contrast to the ravaged European countryside of Allied Assault and most WWII shooters. Ironically, though, the setting doesn't feel all that different from that of the recent glut of Vietnam-based shooters, so when you're rustling through the underbrush with a Thompson in hand, looking for any signs of your hidden foes, it's actually easy to forget that this is World War II. Nevertheless, Pacific Assault does a great job of rendering lush, tropical environments and the dangers they may conceal. The game's levels are laid out in a pretty linear fashion, but they do effectively create the illusion that they're densely wooded, sprawling battlefields instead of the easy-to-navigate first-person-shooter levels that they are.
Probably the most interesting twist to Pacific Assault is how it forces you to recover your health from the inevitable injuries you'll sustain, as well as the unique way in which it, like any action game, inevitably kills you off. In previous Medal of Honor games, you scavenged canteens and health packs in each of the levels, but now, most levels offer no such recourse. Instead, you'll be completely dependent on your squad's corpsman to keep you alive. Basically, you can summon him several times per level to completely restore your health. He'll apply some gauze or give you a little shot of something, and before you know it, you'll be back on your feet, good as new.
Recovering from gunshot wounds in this fashion really isn't much more realistic than doing so by walking over a canteen, but it adds an element of tension to the game's battles. Strangely enough, none of your squadmates can actually be killed, but your corpsman may already be preoccupied with tending to one of them when you desperately need his help, so the game encourages you to try to keep your squad safe. However, it doesn't force you to babysit your squad, either. These guys can fend for themselves and will often help you survive some of the more grueling shoot-outs. Also, should you run out of health in Pacific Assault, it's not necessarily the end of you. Your corpsman will sometimes miraculously show up in the nick of time to bring you back from the brink of death. Alternatively, sometimes the last thing you'll see is a Japanese soldier finishing you off, execution-style. Other times you'll just black out to the tune of some old wartime memory.
All this stuff is done quite well, though at times, it's a little awkward. For instance, you might get executed by an enemy soldier even when you're right next to squadmates who could have defended you, or, oppositely, the corpsman might magically appear even when you've been completely overwhelmed. But if nothing else, this system is different from what you're probably used to seeing in other shooters--and it works well enough--so it's a nice change of pace.
Overall, the campaign is actually quite hard. In later scenarios, you can look forward to frequently getting mowed down by enemy machine gun fire, if not from mounted gun emplacements, then from squadrons of Zeros making your life miserable from the sky. What mitigates the difficulty, much like in most single-player shooters, is the ability to quicksave your progress indiscriminately. Being able to restore your progress from any point is certainly convenient, but it also undercuts some of the suspense. Nevertheless, it's what keeps Pacific Assault from being punishing.
Higher difficulty levels, including a "realistic" one that takes away all onscreen indicators (such as your health and ammo indicators, in addition to your weapon crosshairs), encourage you to revisit the campaign missions. Furthermore, some optional mission objectives and the ability to earn medals for completing these and other significant feats might compel you to come back to the game's several tours of duty, especially since the enemies you'll face in Pacific Assault--as well as the soldiers you'll always be fighting alongside--exhibit some fairly impressive artificial intelligence, which results in some flashes of brilliance that offset the occasional AI fluke. Consequently, battles don't tend to play out in a purely scripted fashion. The game does tend to encourage a specific approach to surviving its sometimes difficult firefights, insofar as a direct attack will often get you killed, whereas you'll often find your enemies' flanks conspicuously exposed. Nevertheless, Pacific Assault does a good job of requiring you to play skillfully rather than just making you take a trial-and-error approach until you get it right. Most of the weapons you'll use demand precision, and most of them are also slow to reload; and, unlike in Allied Assault, ammunition can be pretty scarce here, so you'll constantly feel the need to make your every shot count, in addition to using cover and moving while crouched or prone. This is true of the game's multiplayer portion as well.
- Player Reviews: 162
- Game Universe:
- Medal of Honor Allied Assault (PC, MAC, PC),
- Medal of Honor Frontline (PS2, GC, XBOX, PS3),
- Medal of Honor: Underground (GBA, PS),
- Medal of Honor: Rising Sun (PS2, XBOX, GC),
- Medal of Honor: European Assault (PS2, XBOX, GC),
- Medal of Honor: Airborne (PS3, PS2, X360, XBOX, PC, WII),
- Medal of Honor: Vanguard (PS2, WII),
- Medal of Honor Heroes 2 (WII, PSP),
- Medal of Honor (X360, PS3, PC),
- Medal of Honor Allied Assault: War Chest (PC, MAC)
- Offline Modes:
Competitive, Team Oriented
- Online Modes:
Competitive, Team Oriented
- Number of Players:
- Number of Online Players:
32 Players Online