With a new desert campaign and more incredible action, Breakthrough is worthy of the MoH brand...

User Rating: 9.3 | Medal of Honor: Allied Assault - Breakthrough PC
I pounced on Breakthrough with both feet on the very day of its release based solely on its Medal of Honor pedigree. However, a part of me was a bit tired of the WWII shooter model. The first two entries in the series covered just about every aspect of war-based shooters (the on-rails mission, the stealth incursion, an outing with some AI squad members, etc.) very well. I plodded over almost every inch of the snowy forests and verdant fields of France and Germany represented in the previous tours of duty, so much so that the twisted piles of rubble that were once civilization all began to look alike. So, even though I was gung-ho to rejoin the Allies in temporarily ridding the world of evil, what I really needed was a change of scenery.

Breakthrough fulfilled that need with a 180-degree shift to the craggy desert land of Tunisia. The second and final expansion pack for Allied Assault begins with a hectic jeep ride directly into the gnashing maw of the Kasserine Pass, where the hero’s entire squad disappears into a blinding sandstorm. The game engine’s particle effects for the smoke and grit of the North African battles is impressive, as are most of the combat scenarios; whether in sand or snow, a room-to-room corridor crawl through Nazi bunkers is always fun to me.

After Africa, the action moves north toward The Boot, beginning with a nighttime glider landing in Sicily that is both suspenseful and tragic, once again leaving the hero alone in the midst of big events. Once out of the desert, Breakthrough’s settings are quite familiar to anyone who played through the first two titles, but the mission objectives are diverse and tensely staged enough to feel like brand-new material. The expansion’s last level that recreates a portion of the infamously costly Battle Mountain snafu pits the player and a very small band of his brothers against an overwhelming series of counterattacks from heavily-armed Germans. The interminable waves of enemies are worthy of many breathless, panic-stricken “They’re all around us, man!” moments à la Private Hudson, culminating in a brief but gratifying round of sniping from a castle tower that beats the heck out of the one-on-one boss battles that typically cap off other shooters.

Thanks to an essential change of scenery and an appreciable increase in its degree of difficulty, Breakthrough provides an enjoyable return to the Medal of Honor series. Both expansion packs are very brief; with enough practice, a player can blast through Spearhead and Breakthrough in a single slow Sunday afternoon. Given the high number of WWII-era skirmishes available in the entire Medal of Honor, Call of Duty, and Brothers in Arms series of games, however, the expansion’s length isn’t much of a factor. When played back-to-back with those other titles, especially, Breakthrough is able to match their high level of detail and fun.