World War 2 this and World War 2 that. I hunger for a decent science fiction shooter. Now I'm talking Halo because everyone else has probably been talking Halo for the god-knows how long when you mention a sci-fi shooter. Well I can't get my sci-fi fix at the moment so I'm delving back into the gritty scenery of World War 2 don't you know!
EA have given us a fresh new look at the linear levels of previous MoH games and opted for a GTA-style free-form approach. You start the mission on a transport plane, one jump away from the hell of World War 2 and are soon embroiled in numerous objective based gameplay missions on the same map.
These maps and there are six of them, are huge, massive vistas that are packed with things to do right from the moment you drop in. They might not appear so but each and every one can be played in a different way each time you start the mission. Objectives are varied and are usually quite tricky to accomplish since it takes a good aim and some decent tactics to triumph when the pressure's on.
There's no sticky-cover option and the HUD/Controls are pretty minimal. It doesn't take too long to get into the game and you'll be blasting Axis scum within about ten minutes. There's a short training mission that gets you used to using your parachute and you can perform two kinds of landings to allow you to deploy to the battlefield with the minimum of trouble.
A flared landing means that you don't hit the ground hard, just press and hold A before you land and you should do alright. A greased (running) landing allows you to deploy weapon at the ready, running across the ground to get into cover as your chute detaches.
There are health and ammo boxes marked at green smoke dropzones, these are areas that the HQ has marked as safe enough to aim for. It's a good idea, unless you're supremely confident (crazy) to aim for red zones where the enemy have a decent foothold.
You can carry a primary weapon, secondary, grenades and a pistol at any time. You can freely swap out weapons that run too low on ammo for new ones, collect ammo and pick up health packs just like a traditional old-school FPS. Your health bar is divided into segments, similar to that of the Riddick Xbox and PC game. Take enough damage to deplete a segment totally and you lose it for good. Get into cover, allow your health to recharge and you keep it.
You can crouch and lean, duck and peek over walls to provide cover tactics. There's no way to order your allies but they're not bad at providing support (and getting in the way) when you need them. A lot of the levels are designed so that you can move from one firefight to the next and assist from ground or up on the roof (if you land on it or find an alternate way up there).
The SP story is told from the PoV of Boyd Travers, an Airborne soldier who becomes somewhat of a hero as it unfolds. Virtual actors will always address the camera (that's you) rather than the game showing you in 3rd person and I think this adds to the immersion factor quite well.
You can tackle any objective at any time, but you might want to take note of the XP bar for the current equipped weapon. You'll note as you kill enemies and as it rises you'll get a blue bar slowly fill the weapons silhouette. There are 3 levels for the weapons in the game (US and Axis) and when you fill a level you're rewarded with a real time permanent bonus to it.
This can be anything from increased rate of fire, better scope, more accuracy, extended mags and so on.
These rewards can make or break a scenario, it's wise to spend some time and level up the weapons that you use the most. Having that extra damage can help you deal with the game's later and tougher enemies.
Every time you complete an objective the game creates a checkpoint and that allows you to continue on if you feel like a break. If you die you'll parachute back in over the battlefield and this can allow you to take a different tactic or land somewhere advantageous (a roof over a group of dug in enemies).
Six maps might seem a small amount but when they're as varied and as fun as this, with decent and challenging AI (even though it sometimes seems to be on a tea-break) that will use tactics and cover against you. Six maps is actually quite a lot, since they are as I said before massive.
Graphically the game isn't gorgeous; it's no slouch by any means but suffers from some annoying sudden pop-ups where the scenery appears from a kind of grey space. This only happens once or twice but it can be quite jarring to watch a column or two resolve into view. The effects are nice and the special effects such as smoke, fire and the various flashes from the gunfights are good enough to pass muster. It's a decent looking game. It's well animated and the models are good, the sound is great too with each weapon having a distinct audio cue.
The music is powerful and sweeping, the score is excellent and the voice acting is top notch with decent performances delivered by all the voice actors.
[Img=4]There's online play but it was glitchy at best and EA have made sure there are some patches already. However right out of the box it was a nightmare to play with frequent disconnects and lag issues. It's a novel idea parachuting back into the battle when you're killed but those first few moments can be a killer if you have a small server with few people. It's possible to be sniped as you glide down towards the ground, especially in 1v1 or other matches.
Still a good game when you get a decent enough server.
All in all, MoH: A for all its faults is a good title that gives us a fresh new look at WWII. No co-op play is supported and that's something that could have really been a breath of fresh air for this game.