Medal of Honor: Allied Assault Updated Preview

We visit the EA offices to test drive the E3 build of Medal of Honor: Allied Assault.

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One of the most sought-after games at this year's E3 will undoubtedly be Electronic Arts' Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. Currently in development at the Oklahoma-based 2015, this first-person shooter will mark the first time that the respected Medal of Honor series ventures away from the PlayStation and onto the PC. A few months ago, shortly before its official announcement, we brought you the 2674355first details of this World War II-based shooter, including its impressive Quake III technology, detailed environments, and its inspiration from the movie Saving Private Ryan. Since that time, the game has come a long way in its promise to deliver the realism of World War II while still conforming to standard first-person shooter guidelines. We know, because we recently made the short trek south--from the GameSpot offices to Electronic Arts--to get some hands-on time with the E3 build of Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. The short demo of the game impressed us even further, and based on what we saw, Allied Assault will be a must-have for war buffs, FPS gamers, and even casual fans of Spielberg's epic flick.

Click for exclusive gameplay footage of Allied Assault as well as an interview with the game's marketing manager.
Click for exclusive gameplay footage of Allied Assault as well as an interview with the game's marketing manager.

Electronic Arts plans on showing two specific levels of Medal of Honor: Allied Assault behind closed doors at E3: D-Day and Snipertown. While both names are just placeholder, they do give you a good idea of exactly what to expect from each level. Obviously, D-Day takes place at Normandy, France, on that fateful summer day in 1944. The D-Day screenshots we released a few weeks ago generated a lot of buzz, and with good cause--but if you thought those static images were impressive, just imagine what the game must look like in motion. The words "June 6, 1944, Omaha Beach, Dog Sector" slowly materialize in and out of the screen, which fades in from black to reveal an overcast, gray sky. You find yourself standing in a Higgins boat with a group of other army rangers. Someone behind you yells "30 seconds!" and as you glance over your shoulder, you catch the expression of one of your squad mates--one of mortified anxiety. 2015 has massaged the Quake III engine to give it features no other such games have been able to boast in the past--features like detailed facial animation. The faces of each player model will actually contort to mirror whatever attitude they're expressing. When an explosion goes off nearby, those around you will become visually startled and duck for cover; Germans facing the wrong end of a barrel will open their eyes wide open and plead for their lives--just one of the many features that lends Allied Assault a certain flair of authenticity not found in similar games.

Click for full-size  image
Click for full-size image

Back on the Higgins boat, you look around you and note the dozen or so other LCVPs (Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel) making their way through the English Channel. After a few seconds, the coastline of France becomes visible through the mist, and you begin to make out the massive German concrete bunkers and machine gun nests, as well as the hundreds of jagged metal hedgehogs dotting the sand. At first, all you can hear is the sound of the Higgins engine, but suddenly, an artillery round whistles through the air and explodes only a few inches away from your starboard bow, sending a column of water 20 feet into the air. The explosion is followed by several others. The sound is so deafening and the experience so unnerving that after a few seconds, you contemplate jumping ship to escape the fate that awaits you on the beach. No sooner than that thought crosses your mind, a German shell scores a direct hit on the Higgins boat directly next to you. Instantly, the boat is engulfed by flames, and the screams of burning American soldiers subside just as quickly as they started.

Storming the Beach

"I want to see plenty of beach between each man," yells your CO. "One GI is a waste of ammo to a German." With that, a whistle blows, and the ramp of your Higgins boat is lowered about five feet shy of the sand. But before your squad is able to place one foot outside the boat, it's instantly cut down by machine gun fire from the bunkers. Miraculously, you manage to survive the onslaught and slowly trudge through the water with your heavy gear and rifle. As your head dips below the water, the sounds of war become dull, but as bullets whiz by you, even underwater, you're reminded that there is no safety on the beach. You quickly scurry along the side, trying to keep images of American soldiers getting riddled with bullets, stepping on mines, and blowing off limbs out of your mind. Despite the distractions--the columns of sand exploding upward all around you, the streaks of tracer bullets cutting down your squad mates, and the sound of machine gun fire whizzing by your ear and ricocheting off everything on the beach--you manage to make it to a crater, where a group of other GIs are huddled.

Click for full-size  image
Click for full-size image

Among the group of men is an officer who tells you to keep moving. You and the others start to advance on the bunkers before coming to a sand burm lined with barbed wire. Someone yells for Bangalore explosives, and you catch someone with telltale, pipelike bombs making his way up the sand. Before he can reach your position, however, a German sniper claims his life. Without thinking, you instantly break into a sprint to the spot where the soldier fell, pick up the Bangalores, and scurry back to the barbed wire. The resulting explosions send sand and pieces of metal high into the sky, creating a hole where you and your squad storm through. At this point, you're right underneath the machine gun nests, and the concrete tunnel systems are only a short sprint away. It's here that the D-Day demo ends. It's not very long, and an experienced player can probably finish it in about a minute, but it's certainly exhilarating. Electronic Arts makes no secret about its Saving Private Ryan inspiration. The sound for the game is being handled by Spielberg's DreamWorks studio, and Captain Dale Dye, USMC (retired), consulted on this project, just as he did for the epic movie. In fact, he recently took the entire 2015 team to play paintball to better demonstrate combat tactics on the battlefield. The end result, at least of the D-Day demo, is a shooter that's extremely intense and completely engrossing.

Click for full-size  image
Click for full-size image

Electronic Arts also plans to show a level called Snipertown at E3. This level takes place in a devastated French town, and it is reminiscent of the scene in Saving Private Ryan, in which a German sniper has a short-lived duel with Private Jackson. The level requires your character, along with a group of five other rangers, to capture a King Tiger tank at the other end of town. The town, however, is crawling with German patrols, and it provides both you and the enemy with plenty of vantage points, such as cathedrals and bell towers, for sniping. This level showcases a lot of the game's weather effects, such as rain, wind that opens and closes loose shutters, and lightning that reflects off glass windows. It also demonstrates the level of AI in Allied Assault. During one interesting sequence, we were using the M1 eight-round rifle to fend off some soldiers. When we fired off the last round in the clip, the rifle made its signature clinking noise--the same noise that told the Germans that we were empty, and they quickly took advantage of our situation by pressing their attack.

Overall, we were very excited to have played the latest build of Allied Assault. Electronic Arts' last first-person shooter, Clive Barker's Undying, was one of the best such shooters to be released in a long time, and we have very high expectations of Allied Assault as well. The game will be shown at E3 behind closed doors, so check back here for more information directly from the show floor.

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