Medal Of Honor: Allied Assault (2002, PC)
The beach assault is a defining moment in FPS gaming.
Frightened faces, a heaving boat and innumerable foes. Medal Of Honor's Omaha beach landing may not have been the game's opening mission, but it was certainly the most memorable.
A resounding World War 2 opera, Medal Of Honor: Allied Assault fully immersed me within the world of First-Person Shooters. Was it the kinetic gunfights? Was it the intelligent AI? Or was it the visual spectacle on offer? A bit of everything, I suspect. Either way, I eagerly devoured every one of the game's hellish scenarios that were recreated with diligence and precision: The beach landing a particularly good example of this. It the game's defining moment, ripped straight from Saving Private Ryan, yet no less impacting. Without it, the game would have been an entirely solid FPS -- yet, the beach assault solidified Medal Of Honor's place in the annals of FPS excellence. It really defined how far games had come since the early days; their ability to recreate a celluloid moment with unnerving creativity.
The shores of Normandy were by no means the only standout moment, of course. Trudging through the rubble of a ruined French town with a sniper rifle or infiltrating a mustard gas factory donning a gas mask were other stellar moments, but with the Omaha Beach Landing in place, Medal of Honor could do no wrong. Admittedly, the rest of the game rather pales in comparison, but this is hardly surprising.
Prior to its release, Return To Castle Wolfenstein was touted as the next "big thing", but Medal Of Honor snatched away this mantle -- and with good reason. It stands as the best in its protracted series (evidently down to the team disbanding shortly afterwards and forming the creative force behind Call Of Duty, a spiritual successor of sorts). It was will always stand in a light of its own, the first FPS I truly enjoyed, and 8th on my list.