In its latest release, Call of Duty has returned
to World War 2. Now I got to play it a bit at a friend’s house and really enjoyed it!
Can’t wait to pick it up when it’s on sale, since I can’t justify the asking price
right now. Instead, I picked up Medal of Honour: Allied Assault from a charity shop.
Those of you who played it back in the day might say it’s better than the new Call
of Duty. I really couldn’t say, since back then I couldn’t justify the asking price
and played through the older games on the Playstation 1 instead. But I still understood
the importance of this title. It’s the game that connects the older Medal
of Honor games with the later Call of Duty series. Indeed, a lot of Allied Assault’s
developers left to work on the first Call of Duty, which shipped a year later.
It was interesting for me to play through this game recently. Firstly, to fill in a
gap from my gaming knowledge and secondly, to see how well it has aged.
For the most part, it’s good! Most of the levels are your typical run and gun, with
good solid weapons and plenty of bad guys to shoot. It’s when it tries something different
that it shows its age. And I think it’s best shown with the D-Day
Landings. Back then, this was a ground-breaking level.
The reviews raved about it. At my friend’s house I loved it too- enough to try and make
a dday landing game of my own. You have the build-up to it as you approach the shore.
That ship next to you gets blown up! It could have been YOU! And then the gates open and
everybody in front of you dies. The scale of the action was unprecedented. At the time
you were used to being alone, or with a few guys at most, and yet here you felt as though
you were in the middle of a war, with hundreds of soldiers on both sides!
Guys all around you fall dead. Others are writhing about on the floor in pain. Some
are cowering behind cover, too scared to move! As a child, my mind filled in the gaps and
I became utterly immersed in the experience. Sadly, it hasn’t aged well at all. There’s
hardly any gameplay to speak of whatsoever. Every few seconds, a stream of bullets fires
from the top of the beach towards YOU and YOU alone. If you’re out in the open when
this happens, you die. If you’re behind cover- even rubbish incomplete cover- then
you’re absolutely fine. So, the gameplay involves you hopping from cover to cover every
time the stream of bullets stops. If you’re like me then it takes a few playthroughs before
you figure out the pattern, before which you keep dying and think it’s stupid and unfair.
Sort of like a real war, but with rubbish graphics.
Once you reach the top of the beach, you look back and see everybody else get slaughtered.
You then realise that the campers at the top have all nominated you to rush back into the
open to pick something up. Having done this, they blow through the barbed wire and a horrendous
sequence starts where you have to hop between craters before the infinite enemies respawn.
From there on it’s a simple dash through a bunker and you’ve finished the level.
Like I said, I really enjoyed this back in the day. But this sequence was TOO successful.
Every Call of Duty game had to repeat it in some way, only bigger and better. And although
I don’t think another sequence had the same impact on me, over time the standards for
set pieces has slowly risen and returning to the original is now an utter disappointment.
Now I’d happily skip this level and play the game for the rest of the levels, which
have aged a lot better. For the most-part it’s not too difficult, though the developers
do occasionally slip in a sadistically difficult sequence just when you’re getting comfortable.
And there’s a hellish level later on full of camping snipers which I can’t imagine
anyone would find fun. So, that’s a classic level from PC Gaming’s
past. If you’re craving some WW2 action but hate what Call of Duty has become for
some reason, why not check out how it all began? You might be… surprised.