Medal of Honor Frontline (Xbox)

Medal of Honor Frontline (Xbox)

Written by Charlie Sinhaseni on 12/22/2002 for Xbox  

World War II was an event that had perhaps the most profound impact on the lives of each and every individual who happened to come in contact with it. Growing up in these United States I’m sure that you’ve been on the receiving end of countless stories told over and over by your Grandparents on the subject, and if you’re like me, you sat there intently with your eyes closed, trying your best to replicate the images in your mind. There’s something special about World War II, it had this special ability to bring people from different backgrounds together in order to fight for a common goal. It had to ability to unite the nation and save it from the powerful clutches of the Great Depression, the result of a failing economy.

While today we live in the land of the free and the home of the brave, there are a few select individuals who choose to never forget those who gave their lives so that we could enjoy the liberties that we have come to know and cherish. Electronic Arts has decided to support that cause by releasing their latest World War II themed shooter, Medal of Honor: Frontline, a beautiful work of art and a masterpiece that will have the ability to transcend the test of time. Matched only by it’s PC cousin (Medal of Honor: Allied Assault) in historical accuracy and significance, Frontline is a beautiful depiction of what the brave souls of the United States army had to endure in order to preserve the freedom that many people have taken for granted.

Although countless movies and documentaries have been created on the subject matter, nothing comes close to being as engulfing as a video gaming experience. While Dreamworks’ masterpiece Saving Private Ryan did an admirable job of showing exactly what those brave soldiers were up against, nothing quite matches the feeling of being able to experience and face it for yourself. There’s a distinctly enormous experience in watching a group of actors run up the beaches of Omaha as opposed to running up the shores at your own discretion. And this is what EA does beautifully, it recreates an experience that makes you feel like you’re actually controlling the action instead of standing idly by and watching it unfold. You’ll feel like you’re a real soldier in the U.S. army, not some passerby who happened to spot the action on a curbside television set.

While Frontline shares the same name as a few other titles, it has little or nothing to do with the other entries in the series. It has some ties to the first two PSOne titles and absolutely no ties to the PC version of the game. While the PC version followed the tale of Lt. Powell, the Xbox version features Jimmy Patterson, the same character that appeared in the first two console versions. Contrary to the impression that many may have received about the game, Frontline is it’s own separate entity in the award winning series.

What makes this game so special is its ability to accurately recreate and replicate the feeling of being a soldier that has been placed behind enemy lines. This isn’t the type of game where you can succeed by charging head first into a swarm of incoming enemy fire. Instead, you’ll find yourself ducking behind boxes, hiding around corners and crouching behind any other available cover in an effort to avoid getting hit. It’s so damn exciting and the adrenaline rush that it provides ranks among the best this genre has to offer.

Mission variety is the key to a great first person shooter and it is in this aspect that Frontline delivers in spades. Right from the start you’ll be thrown onto the unforgiving shores of Normandy as you desperately fight to make your way to the shore. As hails of machinegun fire soar over your head you’re flanked on the sides by and endless barrage of mortal shells. As you look to your left a medic works desperately to revive a fallen comrade, on your right a well-timed shell decimates five of your fellow compatriots. It should also be noted that all of this happens within the first five minutes of the game; multiply that number by a hundred and you’ll have a great idea of just how exhilarating this game is.
The rest of the game will take you far from the shores of France and deep behind enemy territory. You’ll brave through the countryside of France on most of Europe in a quest to stop the German Regime. On the way you’ll board a German U-Boat, stow away on a freight train, hijack experimental planes, and inflict massive amounts of pain upon anyone who just happens to don a German uniform. There’s a ton of action to be had in Frontline and believe me, you won’t grow tired of it anytime soon.

You’ll be able to control your character via the now familiar console FPS setup, meaning that the left stick moves your character while the right analog stick is used for aiming. Coupled with the rest of the button layouts and you have a control setup that works surprisingly well. There is a small learning curve on the game’s controls but I felt them to be a lot more comfortable than those of Agent Under Fire’s. In addition to the usual assortment of movements you’ll also be able to zoom in with the sniper function. You won’t be allowed to zoom in for any significant amounts of distance, but it still helps when you need to pick off targets from afar.

Not only does this game play like a million bucks, it looks like it too. The graphics are simply striking, with extraordinary amounts of attention paid to the smallest of details. Nazi uniforms are adorned with badges, insignias, buttons, and other intricate details that you would expect to see in the Smithsonian Museum. Even weapons are recreated with lush refinement, all of them have been recreated so beautifully that you’d probably have a hard time believing that they’re being rendered on the fly.

Levels are composed of complex designs and structures that put the competition to shame. Rarely will you find yourself becoming bored or fed up with game’s landscapes, every single area of the game has it’s own distinct look and feel to it. Many of the game’s locales look like they could have been lifted directly from aerial photography that was taken at the time. I wouldn’t have a hard time believe that environments in this game actually existed in our world at one time or another, they’re that well done. Furthermore, texture work is among some of the best that I’ve seen appear on the PS2 but on the Xbox, it looks a bit aged and dated. Everything in the world looks and feels the way that you would expect it to look in real life, just a little bit blurred. The Xbox is far more capable of providing better visuals than this but for what its worth, the game still looks great.

What makes this game look and feel so different from the competition is its amazing ability to render realistic looking environments. It’s almost as if the art guys over at EA constructed a time machine just to go back in time and take notes on what a 1940s French street should look like. It’s incredible just how beautifully rendered these environments are, it was really nice to be able to have an image to place alongside my Grandfather’s stories.

From an aural standpoint it doesn’t get much better than this. The Xbox version excels over the PS2 title in that it incorporates Dolby Digital effects into the game. It sounds like most of the audio elements have been lifted from the PC counterpart, Allied Assault, and straight into Frontline. Gunshots and German screams will no doubt sound familiar to AA vets. If you ask them, however, they’re tell you that it’s not such a bad thing. One of the strongest portions of that game were the audio elements, the guys at EA couldn’t have chosen a better facet to duplicate.

If you have a great sound system your ears are going to be thanking you in the morning. Everything comes in with great precision and impeccable clarity, you’re not going to find samples much more cleaner than this. Best of all, there’s great positional audio so you’ll easily be able to tell if a shot is coming from over your head or from just around the corner. This comes in handy when you’re running around trying to avoid the wrath of those relentless Nazi guards. It should also be noted that this game has one of the best soundtracks that you’ll be able to find anywhere. The music, performed by a full orchestra, lends a truly epic feel to the game and best of all, it chimes in at just the right moments. There’s a crucial element in a game called mood music, play Frontline if you want to know how to execute it properly.
Frontline is an great game but there are a few glaring errors that prevent it from attaining a better rating. First and foremost is the lack of checkpoints in the rather lengthy levels. Missions can take anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes, all of which must be accomplished without the aid of an in level respawn point. When you die, you’re forced to begin the mission from the very beginning again. This leads to a lot of trial and error and a whole lot of frustration. Had there been the inclusion of a mid-level check point system, this problem could have been averted entirely.

You can aim but it really disrupts the flow of action. When you’re in this mode you’re unable to move your character and avoid enemy fire. While you can still aim without the use of the manual aiming mode, it would still be nice to see exactly where it is that I’m aiming at. Instead you have to arbitrarily decide where the center of the screen is at in order to tell where you’re aiming. It makes moving and shooting nearly impossible to perform with any sort of precision or accuracy.

What really separates the Xbox version from the PS2 version is the inclusion of the multiplayer modes. While they’re not exactly groundbreaking and they won’t soon make you put down that copy of Unreal Championship, they’re still a nice addition. I really wish that there would have been support for more than four characters, online implementation via Xbox Live would have been great for this game. Frontline could have also benefited from a multiplayer co-op mode. There is a serious lack of two player co-op games available in today’s market, this is a perfect situation where it would have benefited the game immensely. Can you imagine planning a simultaneous attack from with you buddy on a horde of unsuspecting soldiers? It would be the epitome of the word cool. However, because the rest of the game is just so amazingly brilliant, I’m willing to overlook these omissions.

Frontline was an excellent title when it was released last June on the PS2 but it has since lost its luster. It’s still an amazing adventure through the world’s most talked about and recanted war but it’s beginning to show its age. Not enough was done to improve it over the PS2 version and in the end, it feels like a port with tacked on features. If you own the PS2 game, there’s nothing new for you here but if you have never been exposed to the title, I recommend you check it out, it’s a worthy weekend rental.
An epic adventure arrives in the form of a historical first person shooter, beautiful graphics and tons of great action combine to form one of this year’s greatest experiences. More arcade oriented than its PC counterpart, aiming sometimes disrupts the flow of action, questionable AI, and the lack of online play really hinder this game.

Rating: 8.4 Good

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.


About Author

Gaming has been a part of my life for as long as I could remember. I can still recall many a lost nights spent playing Gyromite with that stupid robot contraption for the old NES. While I'm not as old as the rest of the crew around these parts, I still have a solid understanding of the heritage and the history of the video gaming industry.

It's funny, when I see other people reference games like Doom as "old-school" I almost begin to cringe. I bet that half of these supposed "old-school" gamers don't even remember classic games like Rise of the Triad and Commander Keen. How about Halloween Harry? Does anyone even remember the term "shareware" anymore? If you want to know "old-school" just talk to John. He'll tell you all about his favorite Atari game, Custer's Revenge.

It's okay though, ignorance is bliss and what the kids don't know won't hurt them. I'll just simply smile and nod the next time someone tells me that the best entry in the Final Fantasy franchise was Final Fantasy VII.

When I'm not playing games I'm usually busy sleeping through classes at a boring college in Southern Oregon. My current hobbies are: writing songs for punk rock bands that never quite make it, and teasing Bart about... well just teasing Bart in general. I swear the material writes itself when you're around this guy. He gives new meaning to the term "moving punching bag."

As for games, I enjoy all types except those long-winded turn-based strategy games. I send those games to my good pal Tyler, I hear he has a thing for those games that none of us actually have the time to play.

When I'm not busy plowing through a massive pile of video games I spend all of my time trying to keep my cute little girl fed. She eats a ton but damn she's so hot. Does anyone understand the Asian girl weight principal? Like they'll clean out your fridge yet still weigh less than 110 pounds.

Currently I'm playing: THUG, True Crime, Prince of Persia, Project Gotham 2 and Beyond Good & Evil. View Profile

comments powered by Disqus