Medal of Honor Frontline, which was originally released this past summer for the PlayStation 2, is a first-person shooter that tries to re-create the feeling of actually being on the battlefield during World War II. The PlayStation 2 version of the game was hailed as a terrific accomplishment that succeeded in doing just that through the use of incredible graphics and sound. The Xbox version actually surpasses the PlayStation 2 release, featuring improved visuals, true Dolby Digital support, and a new multiplayer mode.
The game starts you out on the beaches of Normandy for the D-Day invasion, and the opening sequence has been designed to closely resemble to D-Day landing featured in the film Saving Private Ryan. You start out in a Higgins boat as it approaches the shore. You have the ability to look in all directions as you get closer to the shore and can see the armada of other Allied boats behind and alongside yours. Mortar rounds explode in the water all around you, sending huge plumes of water into the air. Eventually, one of the incoming mortar rounds finds its mark and destroys a nearby boat. Moments later, you find yourself in the water, trying to make your way up the beach as a hail of Nazi gunfire rains down on you and your fellow troops. This tension-filled sequence is your first introduction to the game, and it perfectly sets you up for the rest of Medal of Honor Frontline's intense, cinematic action.
You play through the game as Lieutenant James Patterson during the most pivotal point of World War II. As Patterson, you penetrate enemy lines in an attempt to destroy key targets, thereby keeping the troops on the front lines safe. The game features six main missions spread across a total of 20 different levels. Along the way, you'll have to take out a seemingly endless number of Nazi soldiers with a variety of weapons, including sniper rifles, pistols, submachine guns, grenades, and even a rocket launcher. All the weapons, uniforms, and story elements have been carefully crafted to deliver a highly authentic World War II game. New in the Xbox version is a four-player split-screen multiplayer mode. While it's a nice addition, no new maps were created specifically for the multiplayer component. Instead, the multiplayer maps are just chopped-up versions of the maps featured in the single-player campaign.
The gameplay and controls in Medal of Honor Frontline are elegantly designed and offer players a choice of two default settings. One setting allows players to control the character's movement and aiming independent of one another using the analog sticks. The second offering is for players who aren't used to first-person shooter controls, and it allows them to move and aim with just one analog stick. The triggers allow you to zoom in with a weapon and fire, while the buttons on the face of the controller allow you to crouch, jump, reload, and change weapons. The controls are responsive, and they're set up intuitively so anyone can quickly jump into the game.
Visually, Medal of Honor Frontline is very impressive. The character models used for the troops are very detailed and look extremely realistic. The faces of your fellow troops and the enemy soldiers are very well done and come complete with facial animations and terrific lip synching, and these smaller details really go a long way toward making the characters seem incredibly real. The environments are also quite authentic in their look and feel, since a great amount of detail has been put in to make them look like war-torn cities. Craters, scorch marks, and rubble adorn the city environments, as well as realistic fire and smoke that are very convincing thanks to great lighting and particle effects.
In the audio department, Medal of Honor Frontline is simply amazing. The sound effects are extremely realistic. The different effects used for gunshots are outstanding, and the voice work for the characters you interact with is well done--it even matches up with the lips of the characters as they speak. The music included in the game is terrific blend of ambient and aggressive war-themed tracks that perfectly fit the situations you find yourself in and the World War II theme. All the audio in the game has been mixed to support Dolby Digital decoders, which means if you have a home theater set up, you'll actually hear the gunfire, explosions, and voices coming from different directions.
The only major negative in the game is its save feature. You can save only between levels, and most missions have so many objectives that they can take nearly an hour to complete. A quicksave feature would have made certain sections of the game quite a bit less frustrating, but the levels do contain some strategically placed health power-ups that make the missions more manageable. The game is about 12 hours in length, which is more than sufficient for a single-player first-person shooter.
In the end, Medal of Honor Frontline is a terrific game that will satisfy anyone who is looking for a first-person shooter. The game's level and mission design are extremely well done and provide an ample amount of different activities, keeping the gameplay fresh from start to finish. The game's graphics, audio, and overall presentation are almost flawless in every aspect, which makes it one of those games that you'll want to pull out and show off to people. So if you're a World War II buff who's into first-person shooters, Medal of Honor Frontline is as good as it gets.