I've always been a Medal of Honor fan, but since Rising Sun left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth, I was understandably wary when I first approached EA's latest entry. Thankfully, European Assault makes up for any of the series' deficiencies, and then some.
Into the Flood Again
As OSS operative William Holt, you'll find yourself a participant of some of the war's fiercest battles, including the Battle of the Bulge and campaigns in North Africa and Russia. Through some great presentation, including a stunning soundtrack that's actually better than Frontline's, the European theater comes to life in spectacular fashion. Characters are still a bit stiff and blocky, but the environments are extremely well done. Immersion has always been a staple of this series, and European Assault doesn't fail to deliver.
Atmosphere is nothing, however, without proper control, and fans of the series and FPS games in general will be quick to form ranks. There's an wide variety of armament, and each of the thirty-five available weapons have their own unique characteristics- a nice touch, to be sure- and you can practically feel the power of the grenades and carbines as they blow the heads off some of Nazi Germany's best and brightest. A new adrenaline meter gives you something of an edge in tight spots, making you invincible and allowing you to move in a “bullet time” sort of way. It may seem out of place at first, but you will definitely come to appreciate it.
War Isn't Pretty
Unfortunately, there are a few issues that mar what could have made this entry the best yet. A big minus is definitely the lack of an online component, and two-player split-screen play doesn't mean much in this age of sixteen-player death matches. The potential was definitely here, and I can imagine what the gameplay would have been like with Rainbow Six-style elements added in. A cooperative campaign mode would also have done wonders to counteract the increase in the difficulty level in the later stages.
Another nuisance is that the ninja-like skills the German Wehrmacht displayed in Frontline have returned and their aim is as deadly as ever. Even from behind a wall at two hundred paces, they will land at least 80% of their shots. You, on the other hand, are not so skillful, and it will take some time for you to perfect the much-lauded headshot. Luckily, ammunition is plentiful, and no one is immune to a grenade (although they still try to kick it back at you). EA's decision to award objective completions with revives (essentially extra lives) helps maintain the flow of the action, as opposed to starting over at a checkpoint