|Medal of Honor: Spearhead|
September 30, 2003 | Tom Burns
Every so often, a game comes along that is labeled a genre-buster. Electronic Arts' Medal of Honor: Allied Assault was a prime example. It had everything: Action, accurate portrayal of historic events, and all of the cinematic details that make people flock to the theaters for the latest summer blockbuster. Allied Assault remains one of the most positively reviewed games in recent memory. The first expansion to the title, Spearhead, does more than enough to improve the reputation of the series.
Game playThe single-player campaign takes you through the next portion of WWII, picking up right where Allied Assault left off. In these nine levels you will be taken through France, Germany and Belgium, each a distinct setting set apart from the others. You are dumped into action abruptly this time, forgoing the five-minute cut scene that is typical of the Medal of Honor series. The game opens in a transport plane full of paratroopers, and as it comes under fire you are forced to take the plunge. Landing disoriented in the French countryside, you ready your M1 rifle and move out in search of your comrades.
The friendly AI seems much improved over that of Allied Assault, and is able to efficiently control a squad of five soldiers, as opposed to the massacres that occurred with the old AI. The campaign was visually stunning, but I thought that it was unfortunately short-lived. It took me (a first-person shooter layman) about four hours to complete the three missions which contained about three levels each.
Additions to game play are what really give value to Spearhead. New to the game are player-controlled anti-aircraft turrets, anti-tank artillery, mortars, and even a tank (thankfully the tank is not available in multiplayer). Also new is an arsenal of international weapons, adding Russian, French, and English weapons to the German and United States options already available. These weapons add more than you might think to the game, as they are not just different models, but actually different guns entirely, with differing munitions, accuracy, and firing speed. The Axis also adds a unique weapon, called the Gewehrgranate, a rifle which is also a crude grenade launcher. Also interesting, if a bit useless, are smoke grenades, referred to lovingly as “lag grenades” by the online community because of the graphical slowdowns the smoke can cause.