Medal of Honor: Frontline PS2 Review

Being a soldier isn’t that hard, you know? The only requirements you need are: the ability to chew tobacco, curse your ass off and not going insane when sleeping in a bunker with fifty other men. Still, when it comes to war the only ones who can share stories about their pasttime in the army are elderly folk and imaginative fathers. So to compensate for the lack of experience amongst the not so old people, the entertainment industry has been trying to convert “warfare” into movies and books since the Fifties. Now -since the coming of videogames and their respective consoles- developers have started their own battle in delivering a real (yet enjoyable) war experience. When finally we were done being wowed by Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan in came Medal Of Honor, one of the best first-person shooters in the galaxy. Although the game was partially based on the blockbuster, MOH offers less intestinal goo waving around the screen (none actually) and more Nazi-filled compounds and big guns named Greta -as was the German style in those days.

You’re still relaxed now but when you load up the game, immediately there’s that prickly sensation in the back of your neck and a shudder rolls down your spine…You’re sitting in a steel boat, men around you start panicking, someone vomits and you can read the terror in their eyes because you’re getting closer to the beach, and the gunfire is getting worse. Suddenly your little ship is hit and you fall into the sea. Once out of the cold water bullets rip through everything and everyone, soldiers do their best to avoid incoming enemy fire, medics try hard to heal the wounded, dirt and shrapnel is everywhere and in the midst of all the chaos is you. The sound of roaring machine guns, heavy explosions and helpless cries pump out of your tv and really help build that horrid atmosphere; and although you know it’s bad you can’t help but feel excited, it’s only historical entertainment after all. This is how the first level of Frontline kicks in: a realistic impression of D-Day, experienced through an entertainment medium.

The rest of the game will take you from the quiet Dutch countryside to war-torn towns filled with dozens of Nazis, all of them with itchy trigger fingers. Although there is a total of 19 missions, the levels are familiar to the original Medal Of Honor, apart from the fact that the PS2’s power has given us a visual feast. Though this time around you’re not the only soldier participating in battle: other Allied troops will help and guide you along the beautifully detailed scenery; everyone has to fight a gruesome war. Each of the surroundings have an authentic feel, which delivers the perfect atmosphere, combined with a captivating soundtrack which is so emotional, gripping and elevating that it adds a lot to the realism of the game. Unfortunately, Frontline does suffer from a fair bit of slowdown but the cinematography, excellent graphics and astonishing music make up for that.

The developers have done their best to create that typical WWII atmosphere throughout the entire game. Enemy soldiers will now work more as a team and they’ll run for back-up when alone or -just as in the previous outings- play kick-the-can with your precious grenades. You don’t just throw yourself in the open, Nazis are everywhere and they’ll give you a hard time depending on which difficulty you’re playing. Of course the best part is when they get shot: shoot ’em in the leg and they’ll reach out in pain; shoot them in the chest and they’ll stumble backwards and fall, trying to find support with their hands. You can also execute a melee-attack, meaning you can smash your gun right in enemy’s face, splendid! Of course, most enemies are just sitting ducks; but the moment you think you can handle ’em all and you enter a room with your guard down, that’s when you’ll be surprised of how smart your opponent actually is. It’s this kind of detail, superb character design and atmospheric battlefields that ensnare the player.

Strangely enough, there’s no multi-player available. It’s not a bad thing though: this way the developers have given their complete attention to the actual game. Frontline doesn’t need multi-player, leave this to the TimeSplitters or Quake series, the epic war you have to endure is already hard enough.Although the levels are straight-forward they look like genuine war zones: objectives which have to be met can easily be achieved by following the map; but there’s rubble everywhere, planes scoop the area and there’s too much live action going on to even remotely call it “levels”, but actual battlefields are a more fitting couple of words. All this together with audio and visual feedback merge into an emotionally involving trek: whether you’re infiltrating a military facility or fighting Panzers along with the Brits you experience both the terror of battle as well as the joy of victory.

Finally, you’re back to the real world… The Dual Shock is still resting in your hands and if you look outside your window life is still carrying on as usual. But you don’t want this peace and tranquility, you need to finish every mission with honours and you’re craving for a gun in your sweaty hands instead of a controller. The ultimate WWII-experience is just a loading disc away. You’ll play it, then try to complete it again on a harder difficulty. This reviewer hasn’t seen anything this good -or impressive- since über-game GTAIII. You don’t need reality. Reality sucks. It’s time to turn on that television, pump up that volume and let your nerves break once again. Don’t forget your helmet, kid.