Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault Review
Medal of Honor heads to the pacific theatre of war!
Review by Rob Edmondson
Published 14th February 2005
Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault
- Developer: EA Games
- Publisher: EA Games
- Release Date: 19th November 2004
It doesn’t seem like it but it’s almost three years since the original Medal of Honor was released. At the time it was marked as the game that finally eclipsed Half Life as the number one shooter and we all loved it. Who could forget the brilliant in-game atmosphere and the fantastic level design peaking on the Omaha Beach level? With only two so-so add on packs released for the original since then, fans have been crying out for a sequel and finally EA have delivered with Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault. Was it worth the wait though? Read on to find out...
Over the last few years there has been somewhat of a deluge of WWII games released for the PC making it hard for any gamer not to become an expert on the subject and the theme has begun to grow sterile. With this in mind EA have decided to concentrate their next MoH game on the Pacific Theatre, an area which has hardly been covered with most developers preferring to stick to Europe. The war in the Pacific was largely fought between the Japanese and the American forces and it is the latter that you will be controlling.
A lot has changed in the FPS world since the original was released. We have been treated to classics such as Far Cry, Call of Duty, Doom 3 and Half Life 2 and it is safe to say the genre has taken a big step forward. It is a disappointment then to see that EA have largely stuck to their original formula and more disappointing still to see that they have, if anything, actually managed to make the sequel worse than its predecessor.
A major problem is due to the linear orientation of the level design. Most of the levels, you see, are set in thick jungle, an area which has still not been successfully simulated in a game to date, and the developers were perhaps being a little ambitious in attempting it. The question is, “How do you set a linear game in a jungle?” and the answer should not be “By putting up a lot of invisible walls and forcing the user down a path he/she would not probably have taken.” Unfortunately in this case that is exactly the answer. To emphasise my point let me give you an example. You are creeping through the jungle with your squad mates and suddenly you see a Japanese patrol up ahead. Diving down you open fire on your enemy and attempt to move into cover, only you can’t. To your horror you discover that the bush you were attempting to move into is in fact a completely impermeable cardboard cut out and you are forced instead to hide behind a small pebble. The outcome of this brief encounter is sadly all too predictable and the cause of much frustration. There can, at times, be cover available but you are never sure you can use it and the existence of invisible walls without some reasonable explanation for their existence, like a river or canyon is inexcusable, especially as the enemy seem to have no trouble bursting out through them. On an earlier level in a ship, the problem is so severe that there is actually a corridor you can’t go down despite it being clearly empty.
A second major problem is down to the enemy, i.e. the Japanese. Apart from having uncannily good eyesight in being able to spot you in bushes no matter how well you hide they also perform a certain manoeuvre called the Banzai charge. This move, as its name suggests, involves the Japanese charging you, bayonets out. There would be no problem with this if it weren’t for the fact that it normally takes more than one direct hit to fell an enemy. What usually happens though is a soldier begins to charge your position and you shoot him, for example in the chest. However instead of falling down in agony the enemy will instead continue to charge and, it taking about 2 seconds to re-cock your rifle, he is usually upon you before there is any chance to fire again. If this was a science fiction shooter and the enemy was a robot this may just about be forgivable. However, as you keep telling yourself, this is not the case and you’ll find yourself hammering the quick save button all too often. This does improve later in the game though, when you obtain various automatic weapons and there is no longer the lengthy reloading pause.
My comrades seemed to enjoy the experience as little as me often deciding to end it all by jumping into my line of fire. Unfortunately for them though this method never proves entirely successful as there is a handy medic waiting at the sidelines who can always heal them no matter how grievous the injury. The medic is actually a very good inclusion in the game and replaces the unrealistic health boxes found in most tiles. He has the ability to heal you a few times in each area if he can reach where you have fallen before the enemy and this adds an element of suspense to the game. EA should at least be commended for this highly original inclusion and this will no doubt not be the last time we see it in a game.
While I have been mostly critical of the game up to now it does have its good points and these are mostly in the graphics and sound departments. The visuals are stunning, of which the water effects stand out the most but the vegetation also looks very convincing from a distance. When getting close to the plant-life though it is immediately obvious that the foliage, at least, is made out of 2D cut-outs, with you being able to simply walk straight through most of it with no interaction. Clipping is also a major problem. I noticed several incidents of a comrade’s bayonet passing clean through one of his team-mates bodies with no harm apparently done! Despite the Americans recent disastrous friendly casualty count in the Iraq conflict I am confident that this was not one of the main causes and they have learnt their lessons from WWII. It is also not uncommon to see enemy guns poking through the walls of village huts though thankfully they seem unable to shoot you using this method.
The audio is excellent with your squad mates, shouting out for help when they are in trouble and your sergeant giving out realistic instructions such as fall back and move forward as the situation dictates. The music is also very moving and suits the game very well with a mournful score.
I was really looking forward to Pacific Assault with Allied Assault being one of my all time favourite shooters. Maybe I was expecting too much from the sequel but I think the main problem was that the developers simply weren’t given enough time to finish the game. The foundations for one of the finest shooters ever are laid down here and there are some wonderful cinematic moments but unfortunately most are tarnished with the numerous bugs which plague the game. While it’s not the worst shooter out there it’s also not the best and I’d recommend a lot of other games ahead of it.
Review Score: 6.4/10
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