By Sam Coles:
If you’re my age or above you’ll remember the period from 1999-2008 where there was an overabundance of World War II themed first person shooters, this all began with Medal of Honor back in 1999. Created by Dreamworks interactive which the game was directed by legendary film director Steven Spielberg, Medal of Honor was something we hadn’t seen before with intense action taking ques from Spielberg’s film Saving Private Ryan which came out the year before.
Medal of Honor sees you play as a mute Sargent in the US military as you journey through various European locations as you gun Nazis. The missions have multi layered objectives and you have to do them all in order to finish each level, these can vary from blowing up AA guns, taking down high ranking officers or going undercover to sabotage enemy vehicles. This game is varied I don’t think I ever found a dull moment because the action and even the quieter moments kept me engaged because after a tense gunfight it was nice to turn the heat down with a undercover mission.
Gameplay wise it’s pretty good considering it’s a first person shooter on the PlayStation because attempts in the past have been bad with games like Quake II not working very well on the system. Not to say that the controls are perfect, they do take a while to get use to especially if you are used to modern control schemes. The left stick moves forwards and strafes and the right controls the camera in modern games, however in Medal of Honor the left control stick looks around and moves you forward and back and the right stick is used to strafe, it’s weird at first but you do get used to it.
The shooting is pretty good, slow, but good as you tend to go through an area where then proceed to kill a few enemies. It’s slow because it’s not fast like COD as you can’t really rely on an auto aim system to help because it’s like Goldeneye with its aiming system where you’re locked into position when you’re trying to do precise shooting. It can feel a bit stiff these days but it’s functional and not frustrating to pull off.
Graphically it hasn’t aged well but they’ve rendered the character models and environments in 3D so there are no pre-render backgrounds so I can give it the benefit of the doubt as it seems to be pushing the PlayStation to its limits. The animation is fantastic and I think it still holds up today because enemies will react appropriately to where they have been shot and fall over accordingly when they die.
Sound design is excellent with the ambient noises as you walk through a small countryside village late at night as you hear the distant barking of dogs to German soldiers shouting orders to each other, it really immerses you in the environment. The noises with the guns are great as well with great chunky sounds from the M1 Garand, MP40 and Shotgun they sound like they do damage which I can’t say for most modern games where they sound like peashooters.
My only problem with this game is that there are no checkpoints so if you die when you’ve got quite far in a level you have to do it all again and this trend carried on all the way up to the PS2 games and it boggles my mind. The levels most of the time aren’t particularly long but they can get fairly difficult as they start to throw in SS Officers at you who are armed with MP40’s and they can take a huge chunk of your health.
Medal of Honor is a great game for the PS1 and is an essential game you have to own as a retro collector or someone who is curious about older games. It’s very cheap and easy to find and if you own a PS3 you have no excuse as it will work in the PS3. Go get it!