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In Memory
Sean Pettibone

Medal of Honor: European Assault (Xbox)

By Michael Palisano

EA's Medal of Honor: European Assault for the Xbox is a solid World War II FPS title that brings players to the frontlines of the epic conflict. European Assault takes players through the war-torn continent as they battle the Nazis in four separate campaigns. It's more open-ended than previous MOH titles, though the gameplay is still linear. The simple controls and structure make for an accessible game that allows players to concentrate on the action. European Assault's polished production values and interesting storyline allow players to feel like they're in the center of the battle. While it doesn't have the depth of other WWII titles, this enjoyable action-shooter offers an engaging cinematic experience with challenging and entertaining play.

Set in 1942 as the Nazi war machine advances through the continent of Europe, Medal of Honor: European Assault places you in the role of Lt. William Holt, who's been drafted by the elite OSS (Office of Strategic Services) in a campaign to stop the Nazi advances, before the fascist armies take control over all of Europe. While the game's characters are fictional, many of the locations and events based on actual World War II events, and Holt will have to face off against many of the infamous German commanders as well. As the commander of your elite squadron, your mission is twofold: defeat the Nazis while ensuring the survival of your squad. During each mission, players need to complete a number of primary and secondary objectives. In order to unlock the next level, you need to complete each mission's primary objectives, and can choose whether you want to complete the secondary ones. Lt. Holt's initial missions take place in war-torn France. Most missions require you to penetrate enemy locations, destroy these clandestine bases, and escape without losing a member of your squad. As you move deeper into the game, you'll find yourself in the blistering heat of North Africa, the snowy expanse of Russia and other locations. The action takes place on accurate portrayals of Europe's deserted streets and war-torn areas, and this attention to detail makes the action even more engaging.

After you successfully complete each mission, the game shows you which medals and awards you've won, at which point you can choose to go on to the next mission or replay the level for a better rank. Luckily, you won't have to battle alone and have the other soldiers in your unit for support. They'll usually follow your lead, and will take commands. However, the control you have over them is quite limited and they'll follow you wherever you go. During each mission, an objective marker on your compass appears which points you in the right direction. As you play each mission additional objectives will open up, which are indicated by a secondary marker. Along the way, you'll face a battalion of soldiers who attack you from all directions. While most are easy to take down on their own, their multiple attack locations and use of encamped weapons installations makes them hard to defeat quickly. The enemies will also unleash heavy armor such as tanks on your squad. Tank encounters are usually extended battles that require plenty of endurance and skill to defeat. Players can also interact with objects on the battlefield, and can take command of stationary weapons such as machine gun nests to help you wipe out any remaining enemy stragglers.

In the heat of battle, you usually focus on the enemy attackers, but you also need to keep an eye on your fellow soldiers during each mission. They can take damage and die, so you need to keep on eye on their health icons. You can heal them with med-kits if their energy gets low. Ensuring the survival of all the members of your squad is essential if you want to earn medals and unlock bonus features. In order to survive the missions yourself, you'll have to take cover behind walls and pick of the enemies when they peak behind their locations. Like the previous MOH titles, the game's intuitive controls are easy to understand and use. This lets you change the soldier's stance easily, change viewpoints and weapons quite easily and makes for a playable title that should have broad appeal. In addition to combat, your missions also require you to perform demolitions by placing charges on certain objects and detonating them. Placing a charge only requires a single press of a button to complete. Some detonations are automatic, while others require you to reach a detonator from remote locations. Many objects require you to place multiple charges before you can destroy them. Most of the enemies' attack patterns become predictable quickly and offer little resistance beyond what you'd expect. However, on certain levels you'll also need to take out Nemesis characters. These mini-bosses usually take the form of Nazi commanders and are usually much harder to kill, requiring multiple shots to take down.

During each battle, Lt. Holt has access to a variety of weapons including pistols, machine guns, and sniper rifles. Each weapon has a unique feel and accuracy rating. Machine guns aren't as accurate, but fire a lot more shots. The Rifle fires far fewer shots but offer increased accuracy. Many of the guns can be used in standard first person mode, or in a closer viewpoint that increases the shot accuracy but severely limits movement. Players will also find numerous med kits on each level, which they can use to rejuvenate either their own health or the health of the other soldiers in their squad. Lt. Holt will also come across Revive icons at several points in the game that allow him to resume the game if he's killed from the same point where he dies. One of Holt's secret weapons the Adrenaline Meter. As you play the game, and kill enemies with accurate shots and perform well, this will fill up. When it's full, you can activate the Adrenaline mode, where time slows down, which gives your shots increased accuracy and gives you extra strength and invincibility for a short time. Aside from this, the battles are intense throughout, with foes attacking your squad mercilessly throughout and can lurk behind any wall or window.

While the gameplay is simple, European Assault's cinematic approach works well to create a sense of the drama that's unfolding, while never letting you forget you're in the trenches fighting for your lives. European Assault's structure in the single-player missions is a tad too linear, but the game does allow players some discretion with its inclusion of secondary objectives. The single player campaign is exciting with four different difficulty levels that offer significantly increasing levels of gaming challenges. At the higher difficulty levels, there are far fewer med kits and the enemies are significantly harder to kill. The game's multiplayer modes offer a solid selection of game types including co-operative modes where up to 4 players can work together to complete campaign missions. There are also more traditional modes such as Deathmatch, King of the Hill Capture the Flag, Tug of War and, Getaway modes. In all, the game features 15 multiplayer maps, which perform solidly on Xbox Live. These solid online modes extend the title's replay value significantly and offer a great deal of challenge when you play against other gamers.

Even though the game's structure is somewhat rigid, the game's production values are excellent and effectively create a sense of being on the battlefield. The crossfire of enemy soldiers, planes flying overhead and tanks on the prowl gives European Assault an epic feel that gives it a strong sense of drama. Also lending European Assault's heft are the in-game cinemas, which gives plenty of detail that fills in Holt's character while also showing players the progress of the wall. The developers have done an excellent job integrating archival war footage with in-game visuals to create a seamless experience. Medal of Honor's voice-over acting is excellent, particularly the sequences where Holt's voice-over changes from that of an old man recollecting to the young soldier he once was. European Assault's visuals are solid, with large areas, but some of the levels seem a little flat and dull at points. However, the broad scope and cinematic approach really gives players sense of being right in the middle of the action is one of European Assault's strongest points and the production values live up to the promise. The levels and environments are richly detailed, and quite expansive, giving the player a great freedom of movement. The game's music is excellent, and fits the pace of the action perfectly. The score is almost silent at points but perks up whenever the action starts to intensify. European Assault's production values are excellent overall, and do an excellent job of transporting you right in the center of the action.

Medal of Honor: European Assault stays true to the formula of previous games. It's a solidly entertaining installment in this popular series that offers some intense battles and a little bit of variety in its missions. The game's intuitive controls are easy to learn and use, making it instantly accessible for veterans and newcomers alike. This is definitely an epic experience with fantastic visuals and an engaging storyline. The structure is still a bit too rigid, despite the inclusion of secondary objectives. Commanding your squad is simple, but they most only follow your lead, which keeps things simple. However, this approach means it isn't as deep as other WWII titles because there aren't as many team-management options as in other titles. However, the game offers a satisfying amount of action that's both accessible and enjoyable. Medal of Honor: European Assault is a solidly entertaining title that should appeal to those looking for a solidly produced and challenging action-oriented FPS.

Grade: B

> External Links

Medal of Honor: European Assault Official Site

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