Friday, 18 May 2012

Medal of Honor (PSX) - Guest Post

"Are you ready to rise above and beyond the call of duty?"

I see what you did there! Except this came out before Call of Duty! Argh, I don't know what's real any more!

Hey, click on the images to view them not as evil JPGs!

June 6, 1944.

Lt. Jimmy Patterson's been busy. A recent mission went a bit wonky (we're not told exactly how) and he ended up having to fight his way out of enemy territory with naught but his wits and a rusty spoon. He's barely recovered from the misadventure when he's roped into a secret briefing with the Office of Strategic Services.

The OSS are in need of folks as extraordinarily capable and absurdly lucky as our Jim, and have prepared for him an exciting full-colour illustrated slideshow complete with music and narration to show how wonderful being an OSS agent would be, and how he's totally not going to slowly bleed to death hundreds of miles away from his family.

I think it's a bit low, asking somebody who can't talk.

Mission one:

An Allied plane has been shot down in France. It was returning from a meeting with the French Resistance and it was carrying an intelligence officer with super secret files that I need to retrieve at all costs.

I've got a rifle. A compass. No map. It's very dark. The only way is forwards. Let's go.

German! Eek! Hit the deck!

He hasn't seen me. I'll just whip out the old GoldenEye 007 aim mode and take him out.

Kabang. He flies through the air, collapses against the walls and fades away.

France is very surreal tonight. When I move, the world vibrates and distorts in unnatural ways. There's a thick black fog that limits my view to a few feet and things pop into existence as I go.

The level's trying its best to fool me into thinking it's not a straight line with different roads and paths all over the place.

This game seems to be focused on duelling with the enemies. When I find an enemy, we both struggle and fuss about trying to get into some kind of cover and whoever shoots the other guy in the head first wins. All of my weapons fire extremely slowly, so I need to make sure every shot hits.

Argh! This is too close!

This enemy's got the full range of early 3D FPS foe dance moves: a step to the left, a step to the right, go down on one knee, lie on the floor. The crafty bastard is timing his dodges perfectly.

This is not my favourite rifle. Maybe I should just run past him.

Plane! Plane! I've found the plane!

I don't have to defend it or anything like that. Check it off my list and move on to the level exit.

TRIUMPH!

The game was nice enough to tell me in big letters when I'd found the entrance to the town and what to do what I got there. I even got an Excellent grade which is somewhat generous considering I walked into every sniper's ambush and became a hapless, wobbling idiot when an enemy came within ten feet of me.

Huh, I thought that first level was short. We're continuing with the same mission here, so it's more like a checkpoint than a separate level. I get to save the game and I get a free health refill. If I'm not mistaken, I've kept my ammo from the previous level too.

My first objective is to destroy the Resistance radio transmitter before the Germans get their hands on it. It's just around the corner from my starting position and it's easily found because it makes LOUD RADIO NOISES.

The least clandestine clandestine radio I've ever seen.

I've also got to kill at least eight Gestapo officers. I don't have to go out of my way to find them, these guys can see me through walls and tend to run at me.

I don't know if it's my imagination or my lousy aim at work, but they always seem to take more than one hit. I hit this guy in the elbow deliberately and he's reacting to it; swinging and twisting his arm around like some kind of evil marionette.

Which means...

I shot the Gestapo in the crotch. Tee hee.

I threw a grenade around a corner expecting kabooms and screaming. When the kaboom failed to happen I stuck my head out and found this audacious chap picking my grenade back up and preparing to throw it at me.

I was so impressed I forgot how to switch weapons and blasted my own health down to 10% with my next grenade.

It's a tank! But I can't get in it. Rubbish. It could just be a display model. Maybe it'll show up later as The Final Boss Of This Mission.

I try throwing a grenade at it for a headstart, but nothing happens. I'll get you yet, tank!

I've tracked down the officer's hiding place in the sewers underneath the town. I find him just ahead, a bloody pile in a dark corner. I take his briefcase and then everything goes wild.

The Germans are clearing the sewers with their evil spiky polygon dogs. There's footsteps, alarm whistles and all sorts of scary German shouts in the background.

There's exciting, heroic chase music playing but it's not much of a chase. I'm taking it slow, one corridor at a time. If I get reckless, I'll get eaten by dogs and have to do the whole level over again.

There's no map but it's hard to get lost. Every time the path splits, one way leads to the level exit and the other way is a dead end with some powerups in it. There's no big flashing message that says 'YOU FOUND A SECRET', so I don't think the rating is going to be based on secrets.

You know, I'm really enjoying this game so far. Maybe I'm just being taken in by the music, or maybe the game is busy being so well put together that it's forgetting to do all the things that games to do annoy me.

I'm really starting to wonder why everybody likes GoldenEye 007 so much. There's no voices in it, lame music, crappy framerate and protecting Natalya. Was it just because you could have four players simultaneously in multiplayer? So far, this game is an improved GoldenEye set in wobbling darkness.

This is weird. No matter how much racket I make, the next set of guards is always completely oblivious. I'm starting to think that these ambient sound effects are just that. Maybe this place is haunted...

Darn it. I was supposed to find a hidden weapon cache at some point but I must've gone past it. I can't win the level without it. It was in 'the North West' of the sewers. Oh well. No harm in going back: there's no time limit, and I get to make sure that I've done a thorough job killing everything.

Mission complete!

My reward for completing the mission is a short history lesson and a dramatic series of video clips describing some of the activities of the real OSS in WW2.

Never did get to fight that tank. Probably for the best considering IT'S A TANK.

I also got an Excellent rating on all the phases of the mission, earning me a secret! I can now enable 'Nifty Multiplayer Powerups'! Hooray, I guess!

Spy mission!

Jim has to track down a massive railgun to stop it shelling Allied ships in the Channel. To do this, he has to disguise himself as a Wehrmacht captain, sneak into a German rail base, plant charges on the railgun's reserve engine, and then find the location of the railgun itself and destroy it.

But first, this door is locked.

"Your papers, sir".

I shoot my papers into his face, but I'm not cool enough to go into this room yet.

I need to find a different guard and steal their identification. I have a silenced pistol but I'm not going to use it unless I have to. If the alarm gets set off, I'll have to deal with infinite enemies! And that's loads!

Jimmy's magic powers let us hear the spoken German as English but not read the German signs, so I have no idea where to go. A quick look around reveals that this place is actually really tiny. The only other place I can go is up a ladder and through a vent into this large hall.

As before, there's all kinds of sounds going on here as well. Trains, footsteps, tannoy, tense music. I'm glad I'm wearing headphones. The music's great but it's a shame it seems to be filtered. It sounds sort of distant.

There's a man at the end of the hall with the papers I need. At least, I'm pretty sure. I have to kill him to find out. I back up to maximum pop-into-existence range and eliminate him. He was the only one in the room and there's no sign of the infinite goon alert squad, so I think I did it right.

With the papers, I can get through the first door, which leads to another set of useless fake doors, another guard who needs some ID and a suspicious looking vent.

I ended up tumbling out of the vent instead of shooting the officer in the head... I thought the jig was up for a moment when he yelled "AMERICAN SPY!", but I shot him and once again everything was great.

Get the papers, through the door, down the corridor and I win. And I thought the levels in Red Ocean were short. Maybe this was a stealth tutorial? Or maybe this is the only stealth level in the game and they decided to cut it short because they didn't like stealth.

Thanks to my foolishness, I only got an Average (the worst) rating on that level. That level was only four rooms big, so I'm going to go back and try it again without the silly antics.

Same result. I'm absolutely certain what I did was textbook stealth. I shot only the two men with one bullet each and I was as concealed as I could make myself. None of the other men appeared to suspect a thing. Is there a way to do it without killing anyone?

The next level is more stealth.

There's patrolling guards here and when they see me they give me the "Sieg Heil". I don't have a "Sieg Heil" button, so I flash my papers hoping that they count. Looking good so far.

Different music. In fact, every level so far has had unique music, with different stages within a mission having their own arrangements of similar themes. Proper DreamWorks stuff, too.

Somewhere around here is a 'gift package' left by my Resistance contacts.

When you're able to see 'em, these levels don't look half bad at all. That's rare though. The fog is harsh, especially when you're indoors and all you can see is the blue night sky leaking in through the holes in the level and people appearing and disappearing.

This time it's this guy who's guarding the papers. He's standing right next to an alarm box and there's guards everywhere. Maybe I could trade him the papers for a sandwich?

I've got as much time as I need to look around and prepare the perfect shot. I'm hidden behind some boxes with my pistol at the ready. Here goes nothing.

And nothing went wrong! Hooray for disappearing bodies.

Here's the engine I need to place charges on.

I should've read the briefing more closely. I thought these were radio triggered charges, not 5 second timer charges! So much for stealth...

Enemies everywhere! I can't shoot more than one enemy at once! Noo!

And I'm dead.

But it's fine! Dying makes the level restart instantly. You don't have to sit there tapping X to confirm things or watch your own death from multiple angles. It doesn't even seem to access the disc. You die, and then you're back.

So that's where Halo nicked it from.

Onwards, to adventure!

I got an Excellent for that stage, even though I died once and it turned into a free-for-all melee after I destroyed the engine. I was relieved to find I could turn off the annoying alarm klaxon.

I've got a theory: your rating is based on how many enemies you kill. The enemies don't respawn like GoldenEye, but they can appear from nowhere when you reach certain points or do certain things. That's why I got such a good rating on this mission and such a lousy rating on the previous one, due to not killing anyone.

Does that mean that this is the first game where you're supposed to intentionally screw up stealth missions and shoot all the guards that appear in order to get a good score? I went back to the first levels and checked it out.

If you shoot the men guarding the doors, the doors automatically open and a couple more enemies appear. You need to activate all the items and find all the hidden pickups in order to make as many enemies appear as you can in order to get the Excellent grade. You don't, say, instantly lose and have to redo half-an-hour of game all over again.

I guess they didn't like stealth after all!

Bunkers. Bunkers with mounted guns. I'd like to throw a grenade in there, but I'd have to switch to them and that's awkward and I really should be RUNNING AWAY NOW. RUN!

Crap, that NOISE! These Germans owe me a new set of pants. :(

Meanwhile, somewhere far away from the train tracks where I'm supposed to be...

Ugh. That always happens! I shoot 'em right in the head but I hit the helmet with a loud CLONK instead. The bad guys only fall back a bit, uninjured. They're ready to take their first shot before I can take my second. Lousy old guns.

Oh no you don't! I've got grenades now. Can't aim them worth a damn, but I've got them.

I think you can hold down the button to throw them further, but there's no priming or preparing to throw animation so there's no way to know where they'll end up.

These rails go on for ever. There's nooks and crannies either side, but I really am just walking in a line. Yet it works.

How do you like these apples, you bastards!

Note to self: using the mounted guns makes more men appear. Use all mounted guns to kill all the men and get an Excellent rating. Is there any way to know this without playing the level a few times and thinking in bizarre videogame logic? I doubt it.

Shooting the enemies in the helmet doesn't hurt them. Shooting the enemies in the chest, arms or legs doesn't kill them. Am I supposed to aim for the throat?

I miss the train station level where everybody just wore ordinary hats. That was great. I could shoot them in the chest and they'd fly backwards through the air like I'd hit them with a wrecking ball.

This isn't good. I've got an MP40 submachinegun but it's absolutely terrible. It fires all over the place at one round per second. When I hit the enemy, it doesn't kill them. What am I supposed to do with that?

Greta. The final target.

I stand around for a while admiring the machine and framing the shot. And then I realise that every shot fired is another destroyed Allied supply ship, and I should really just set the charges and get ready to prevent the inevitable onslaught of Nazis from disarming them.

Which didn't happen.

Greta exploded. I wandered around for half a minute and then I automatically won the level. Yay!

I didn't get Excellent on level three-of-four, so no Nifty Powerups for me this time. Oh well.

I should stop playing now. I've completed two main missions and that counts for 30% of the game according to the save screen. There's a level select so I can go back to any part of any mission to get a better grade. Magnificent. There's no difficulty levels as far as I can tell. Strange.

I had a great time playing Medal of Honor! I was expecting to be frustrated by the controls, but I wasn't. You can pick different control styles from the options menu (but not ingame). You can turn 'Easy Aim' off. The game almost works if you don't have an analogue controller handy, too.

I didn't care that these levels were all dark tunnels running in straight lines. I've seen the alternative. The alternative is the Surface levels from GoldenEye. If you can't get the console to do big levels properly, I can settle for small levels that work.

I didn't care that I kept pinging the helmets off the enemies' heads instead of killing them. The next shot does kill them. I can't stand first person shooters where you have to splerm damage all over things to make them fall down. Medal of Honor is about precision and survival. Or it can be if you want it to.

Though future generations will probably think of WW2 as a fiction invented to sell videogames, at least these games are pretty good. Nice one, DreamWorks.

6 comments:

  1. I still have the soundtrack to this game. They just don't make 'em like they used to.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, Dreamworks games always seemed to have incredible soundtracks. Probably helps that they had Michael Giacchino composing them.

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  2. is there a download for this game ?

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    1. All I know is that there isn't one here. Sorry man.

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  3. I wish the cutscene for the awarding of the medal of honor was on YouTube. Jeeez!

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    Replies
    1. This seems like it might be what you're after: youtube video.

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