Seen as a game that redefined the first-person shooter when it was released in 1999. Medal of Honor was developed by DreamWorks Interactive and published by Electronic Arts for the PS1.
After the release of Goldeneye on the N64 in 1997, it seemed as though no-one wanted to touch the FPS. The defining game had been released and is still considered today to be one of, if not the best, FPS game ever released.
Along came DreamWorks though who saw the popularity of Saving Private Ryan (released a year before in 1998) and decided to build on the sentiment that movie created. Development of the game even involved filmmaker Steven Spielberg who helped create and produce the story.
The end result is one of the most lovingly crafted and accurate depictions of World War II in video games to date.
Players take on the role of Lieutenant Jimmy Patterson who is recruited to the OSS (Office of Strategic Services). His skills are needed to performs services to help end the war. From shooting every Nazi that comes his way to planting bombs, shutting down war-time operations and sneaking through highly-fortified structures. Across 20+ missions, the variety on show throughout Medal of Honor is impressive and the story well told thanks to briefings before and after missions. Some of these include actual wartime footage to really make you feel entrenched in the period.
That feeling is extended by the weapons you get to wield. All based on real World War II weapons. These range from the M1 Garand, the Thompson SMG, the Browning automatic rifle and even a Bazooka! Each mission sets out what weapons you can use from the start. With ammo found lying around or from enemy soldiers. While you can’t pick up new weapons in a mission, you’re always given a range and you’ll quickly find the one that works best for you.
While run and gun is an option, Medal of Honor demands that you use your head. Especially the further you make it as enemies really up their game. Reloading is when you’re at your most vulnerable but the same can be said for enemies. The AI is excellent as they run, hide and try to draw you out or rush your position. Throw a grenade in their direction and they will try and pick it up to throw it back at you or kick it away.
Its really excellent stuff highlighted by the stealth missions that have you in disguise trying to make your way past high-ranking Nazi officials using fake documents. With a simple press of a button you can show them your papers when they demand but if they suspect you, they will start shouting for help and setting off alarms. Frantic and thrilling stuff.
The variety in missions extends to objectives too and no two levels feel the same both in gameplay and visuals. The latter will see you walking through Nazi facilities. The cold mountains of Norway. The war-torn countryside of France and even aboard a submerged submarine. Unfortunately, most of your missions take place at night. Giving Medal of Honor a really dark look and it’s not the prettiest game you’ll see on the PS1.
The controls are also a bit iffy too. It works way better with analogue sticks then the d-pad but aiming can feel a bit sticky. For the most part this won’t really cause any problems. Until the heat of battle when you’re likely to take more damage then you’d expect because of the aiming.
Complaints but minor in the grand scheme of things. As overall Medal of Honor is a masterclass in FPS gaming. Perhaps the best and most memorable thing about the game is the sound effects and music though. The sounds of soldier yelling instructions and demands, the ping of bullets ricocheting off walls and helmets and the sound of explosions is simply fantastic. Then there is the original and full orchestral soundtrack which was created exclusively for the game. It fits the gameplay perfectly.
Medal of Honor gives plenty of replay value too with stats and rewards based on how you did in each mission. Perform really well and you’ll get awarded with max stars and a medal. Getting every medal and full stars on every mission will take some serious skill.
There are hours and hours of content but if that’s not enough, Medal of Honor also has split-screen death match too. It’s nothing special and certainly can’t hold a candle to Goldeneye but it’s just an added bonus. As the content in the single player is more then enough to make this one of the best FPS games ever released.
The series may not be thought of as fondly nowadays. However, few can deny that the original game still holds up (gameplay wise).
Medal of Honor
- The Final Score - 9/109/10