Medal of Honor: Allied Assault Updated Preview

Read all about the details of Allied Assault's multiplayer component.

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Medal of Honor: Allied Assault
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Released in the first weeks of 2001, Clive Barker's Undying was an unappreciated first-person shooter from EA that combined spectacular graphics, dramatic voice acting, and a unique combat system into a well-executed single-player game--and it sold so poorly that Electronic Arts canceled all future plans for the Undying franchise. While there are many reasons for Undying's commercial failure, the lack of a multiplayer component is probably one of the main ones, and you can be sure that Electronic Arts didn't get to be where it is today by not learning from its mistakes. Medal of Honor: Allied Assault is another promising first-person shooter from EA, and even though the game was initially announced as being single-player only, word soon spread that it would, in fact, have some form of a multiplayer component when it ships early next year--and indeed it does. We've actually been playing a nearly complete build of the game for about a week now, and the sheer number of multiplayer options has us hooked.

For the obvious reasons, many comparisons have been drawn between this game and Activision's Return to Castle Wolfenstein. Both use id Software's impressive Quake III: Team Arena technology, and both are set against the backdrop of World War II, even though only one features the undead. Zombies or not, the two games' respective multiplayer components are markedly similar as well. The most notable of these similarities is the beach invasion maps. By now, most everyone who plays action games has experienced (or at least seen screenshots of) Wolfenstein's Beach Invasion level, which involves a group of allies swarming an Axis communications base on the beach--the inspiration from the Allied invasion of Normandy is quite obvious here. Medal of Honor has a similar map that's even more like the Allied landing than Wolfenstein's depiction. This map is called Omaha Beach and can best be described as the most realistic re-creation of Normandy since the opening moments of Saving Private Ryan. Omaha Beach and Beach Invasion have many commonalities, not the least of which is a set of goals that the Allies have to accomplish in a set amount of time, all the while avoiding deadly machine gun and sniper fire from Axis bunkers. That's pretty much where the similarities end, though. Medal of Honor's Omaha Beach is simply huge. The beach is much wider than Wolfenstein's--so wide, in fact, that you can't see where either side of it ends from your starting location as an Allied player--and it's also much longer. As an Allied player, you have to weave your way across a good stretch of sand before reaching the bunkers. Along the way, you'll find countless metal barricades that serve as a hindrance to your progress and as a means of cover against the waves of Nazi bullets.

Scenes like this one are taken right out of Ryan.
Scenes like this one are taken right out of Ryan.

Running up the beach will probably take you no more than 15 seconds, though between the incoming artillery fire, the screams of bullets whizzing by your ears, and the cries of wounded soldiers, that time will seem like an eternity. Anyone who has seen Spielberg's famous movie will be constantly wowed by the amount of detail that developer 2015 has been able to re-create from the film. Sure enough, halfway up the beach you'll come to a row of shingles that has to be destroyed to be bypassed. As the Allies, that's your first objective. Thankfully, there are a pair of Bangalore tube explosives nearby that anyone--there are no class distinctions in Medal of Honor--can arm and set near the barbed shingles. Once these shingles have been breached, the second objective is to destroy two 15cm cannons located at the top of the Nazi bunkers. This fortified structure is made up of a complex hive of tunnels, rooms, and stairs, but eventually you'll be able to spot the massive artillery tubes and place the charges--again, anyone can do so--that are required to win that round for the Allies.

Other Maps and Modes

Another Saving Private Ryan reference.
Another Saving Private Ryan reference.

The Omaha Beach map is one of four objective-based multiplayer levels you'll find in Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. Just as the name implies, objective-based maps have one or more objectives that both teams have to achieve within a certain time limit, much like those in Return to Castle Wolfenstein. Unlike in Wolfenstein, however, there isn't the notion of reinforcement in Medal of Honor. Once you die, you're immediately spawned back in at your original starting point and will continue to be until the round is over. The three other objective-based maps are The Hunt, which takes place in a destroyed French village and tasks the Allies with finding and destroying a Flak-88 cannon; V2 Rocket Facility, wherein the Allies have to destroy the German control room and then destroy the actual V2 rocket itself; and The Bridge, which mimics the final setting of Ryan. Here, the Nazis have to detonate numerous charges to destroy a small bridge that the Allies have to defend.

In and of themselves, those four objective-based maps are probably enough to satiate most action gamers. To be sure, though, EA and 2015 are adding seven additional levels that can be played in three other and completely different ways. These three other modes are fairly straightforward--deathmatch, team deathmatch, and round-based match--and have been used in prominent multiplayer action games for years. The seven additional levels--Southern France, Destroyed Village, Remagen, The Crossroads, Snowy Park, Stalingrad, and Algiers--all vary in size and layout, thus making some more suitable for a large group of players and others more suitable for smaller groups. Snowy Park's low visibility, for example, makes this map ideal for a small group of players. The dense fog and light snowfall will make it all but impossible to spot anyone standing more than 20 feet away from you, and you'll often mistake an enemy in the distance for a tree stump or a rock. Other maps like Destroyed Village, are more spread out and offer excellent visibility and ideal sniping positions. Conversely, Stalingrad's commune housing level design is cramped to be sure, but its tight quarters will ensure that you'll never be searching for anyone to kill.

This US Army soldier is one of six models available for Allied players.
This US Army soldier is one of six models available for Allied players.

The sheer number of player models that'll be available also add a nice touch for war buffs. The Allies will be able to choose from six such models including US Army soldiers, SAS officers, and paratroopers, while the Nazis get a whopping 17 models to choose from, including Panzer grenadiers, Kradshutzen, and even lowly scientists. After selecting a model, you can equip yourself with one of six primary weapons--submachineguns, machineguns, rifles, sniper rifles, shotguns, and bazookas--as well as grenades and a pistol, which you receive automatically regardless of your previous selection. You can switch between weapons after you die, or you can simply drop the one you're carrying and pick another weapon off the ground.

Sounds great, right? Well, don't take our word for it. Electronic Arts will be releasing a multiplayer demo of Medal of Honor: Allied Assault in time for the weekend. That demo will have one deathmatch map, Stalingrad, and it'll give you the chance to get a good feel for the final game. And what about the final game itself? In this industry's equivalent of a blue moon, Medal of Honor: Allied Assault was actually finished early, and you can expect it on store shelves no later than January 22, 2002. The game will have a robust single-player campaign that will take you through six operations, including Arzew in North Africa, Operation Overlord in France, Trondheim in Norway, and ultimately, the fatherland itself.. These missions will be as varied as their locations and will involve everything from scuttling a German sub, to destroying a German airstrip, snatching secret documents, jumping on trains, and shooting from the back of a moving Jeep, and they will have you sabotaging, infiltrating, impersonating, and invading to your heart's content. If a six-week wait is too much to bear, we've updated our media archive with a number of new screenshots and movies to tide you over until then.

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