Medal Of Honor : Frontline

Preview - Medal Of Honor comes to the PS2, and it's looking every bit as good as Allied Assault

While Allied Assault is (deservedly) hogging the limelight at the moment with its European release this week and chart-topping success in the US, another Medal Of Honor game is waiting in the wings. We took an early demo version of Frontline for a spin at EA's recent Allied Assault launch party in London to find out more...

Cinematic

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I'm heading for that building on the left. Once I've killed the German soldier standing right in front of me, anyway.

It's easy to dismiss Frontline as a PlayStation 2 port of Allied Assault, but there's more to it than that. Where Allied Assault loosely covers the whole of America's involvement in the war against the Nazis, from the deserts of North Africa to the fall of Germany, Frontline is a more focused game, concentrating instead on the allied invasion of Normandy and the overly ambitious airborne assault on Holland, Operation Market Garden. The demo level we played tasked you with supporting a group of American soldiers as they fought their way through a ruined French town. Like Allied Assault, Frontline is highly atmospheric and packed full of little scripted sequences to give it that authentic war movie feel. The mission begins with a jeep racing past you as a German fighter plane tries to strafe it. A loud bang echoes down the narrow country lane, followed by a wheel rolling back past you. As you come around the corner you find the survivors pinned down by Germans and yelling at you to take control of the machinegun mounted on the back of their wrecked jeep. Having dealt with this threat, you move on towards a bridge defended by a German tank, which you'll need to take out with a couple of well-placed grenades. The adrenaline was already flowing freely and I was ducking in and out of doorways and diving behind sandbags as I ran down the narrow rubble-strewn streets, occasionally stopping to sight down the barrel of my rifle and pick off a distant German soldier. "We've got a cautious one here", said somebody standing behind me. I think it was one of the game's designers, but by this point I was too busy trying to avoid getting shot by the Germans on the other side of the river to notice...

Atmospheric

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The view from the church tower. Gorgeous.

And this is the genius of Frontline - the incredible atmosphere sucks you into the game and makes you feel like you're in the middle of a warzone. This is about as close to being in an episode of Band Of Brothers as you can get without leaving the couch. Your radio buzzes with commands from your bosses telling you to hurry up and achieve your objectives, and the soldiers around you call out to each other and trade shots with the Germans. Meanwhile tank shells whistled overhead as I made ready to jump over the barricade and make a mad dash across the bridge. Luckily for me the AI apparently still needs a little tweaking, as the Germans are lousy shots at close range and appeared to be dazed by my suicidal bravery, missing me completely as I scrabbled my way across the cobblestones and into a half-collapsed house on their side of the river. A few grenades later and I was on my way up the road to the church, where another mounted machinegun was waiting for me at the top of the bell tower. The view from up there was rather impressive, and Frontline ranks as one of the most graphically detailed games I've seen on the PS2 so far - the screenshots don't really do it justice. An entire ghost town was laid out beneath me, with German soldiers charging down a side road under a hail of bullets from my machinegun as the Yanks formed up on the far side of the river amongst the sandbags and debris. Frontline is currently due for release in July, and if the rest of the game maintains the high standards of the demo we should be in for a treat. From putting you in the middle of the Normandy landings to giving you a chance to go A Bridge Too Far, it's looking set to be every bit as good as Allied Assault and could prove to be one of the summer's big hits on the PS2.

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