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Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault
(hx) 07:02 PM CET - Dec,22 2004

Created by 2015 and Electronic Arts, Medal of Honor: Allied Assault was a huge PC hit and inspired the release of two official expansion packs. Now Electronic Arts's Los Angeles studio (Allied Assault co-developers and Spearhead expansion makers) has released the next stand alone PC game in the series, Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault.

Medal of Honor Pacific Assault puts you in the boots of a WWII soldier in the Pacific theater of operations (1941-1944). As Marine Private Tommy Conlin, you must survive the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor and then join the Allied crusade to defeat imperial Japan's bloody conquest of the Pacific. The story is divided into several chapters: the boot camp, Pearl Harbor, Makin, Guadacanal and Tarawa - over 25 levels in total. They are, however, fairly exciting and packed with many of the same things that made the original Medal Of Honor: Allied Assault so much fun. There are attack missions, defense missions, and even one that sits you in the cockpit of a plane. However, most of Pacific Assault is about running through jungles shooting at Japanese soldiers. I would have liked to have seen more drivable vehicles, but flying planes was a nice touch.

Like previous Medal of Honor outings, Pacific Assault puts your virtual fingers around authentic period weaponry. The Japanese weapons are new to Medal of Honor and include: the Model 38 6.5mm Arisaka Rifle, the Model 44 Cavalry Carbine Rifle w. Bayonet, the Type 100 Submachine Gun w. Bayonet, and more. The US weapons list includes: the Springfield A5 Sniper Rifle, the Reising Model 55 SMG, the Model 11 Remington Semi-Automatic Riot Gun, and more. As you travel, you'll also come across usable emplacements with fixed weaponry like heavy machine guns and mortars.

Missions are generally very linear and also pretty difficult. There are no med kits just laying around. If you get hurt, you can self-bandage to stop the loss of energy. That will hopefully keep you alive long enough for a medic to get to you (pressing "H" will call for the squad's medic). When he does, you'll be able to see him applying packs of sulfa powder, or giving you an adrenaline shot. This adds a tactical level to the game that most first person shooters don't have. Learning to use your medic wisely is probably the most important aspect of completing this game, especially since you'll end up being shot hundreds of times before the game is done.

Throughout the missions, scripting and AI are used in combination to create the "flow" of a stage. The enemy will attack you ruthlessly, and if they see you reloading, they will charge you and stab you with the ends of their rifles. They also run around and strafe to avoid your fire, which is pretty realistic and makes the game more challenging. Of course, nothing is perfect. There are sequences in which the enemies will behave extremely aggressively, if you are in a short range from them, they will run up to you, shouting furiously, and then they will start doing melee attacks until they kill you.

Another new feature in Pacific Assault is the ability to give your squad commands. Using the arrow keys you are able to make your squad charge the enemy, retreat, provide covering fire, or regroup. This allows your men to be more than just a meat shields, but doesn't make anything potentially too complex by forcing you to target specific objects or locations when issuing an order. Your squad members will often yell comments, orders, and observations about the enemies. At the same time it really manages to make you feel like you are on the battlefield. More than once I was saved from being bayoneted while reloading due to the efforts of one of my team. Overall, the single player will take you 10-12 hours to fight through at the game's default difficulty setting.

Once you've finished the single-player campaign, Pacific Assault offers a good deal of multiplayer content. You do have to register with EA to play Internet games, but they are a ton of fun. There are 9 new maps, as well as a fun new "Invader" mode where a team is asked to perform certain tasks (things like blow up a bridge, steal enemy plans, or occupy an installation) to complete their goal while the other team has to prevent those goals from being accomplished. There also other MP modes like "Free For All" (basically every-man-for-himself deathmatch - mo teams, no special goals, just a battlefield of chaos as everyone fights each other), "Team Match" and "Round-Based Match" (host chooses a number of "last-man-standing" rounds that the Allies and Axis must play against each other).

The visuals aren't as nice as Half-Life 2, but they are still very good. The water, fire, and smoke, all look very nice. You can even see the heat effects blurring your vision from explosions and muzzle heat. Unfortunately, the game's graphics are also one of its downfalls as performance certainly suffers even on systems reaching the minimum system requirements. Like all the other Medal of Honor games, the sound is just pure amazing. Bullets will be whizzing past your ears, bombs will be exploding with a loud thunder, the shouting and cries of soldiers will be heard everywhere, all along with the booming musical score.

Pacific Assault comes in a choice of two retail flavors: the standard edition that ships on CD ($49.99) and the Director's Edition come on DVD ($59.99). For the additional money you plunk down on the Director's Edition, you'll get a WWII propaganda poster gallery, pop-up historical facts and stats, plus the following exclusive DVD features: WWII Timeline Presentation (true history behind the game's missions), In-Game Music with Commentary (Audio Director Erik Kraber presents the greatest Medal Of Honor music, delivered in a dynamic interactive application), Medal of Honor - Paths of Glory (learn what it was like to fight in the Pacific Theater through the gripping interviews from those who were actually there), Silent Drill Platoon (narrated footage showcasing the famous pageantry of the USMC Silent Drill Platoon), The Thought War (video on how both sides used propaganda as a weapon in the battle), Making of the Game (video that profiles the hard work that went into creating Medal of Honor Pacific Assault), Intro Movies with Commentary from Director Brady Bell.

Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault, at times, has some excellent action, and these are the times that make it worth playing. Unfortunately, it has a handful of really bad sequences, and pretty annoying loading times. Aside from one mission in the single-player campaign where you're flying a plane, there is a noticeable absence of player controlled vehicles. Another downside to Pacific Assault is that it is extremely short (10-12 hours). But even with these shortcomings, Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault is definitely one of the best shooters on the market. If you enjoyed the earlier MoH shooters, you will enjoy this one as well.

Related links: SP demo (560MB), MP demo (409MB), patch 1.1, trainer +3, trainer +9, savegames, bloodpatch, mods.

System requirements:
Minimum: 1.5 GHz Intel Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon, 512MB RAM, 3D video card with 64+ MB video memory which fully supports DirectX 8.1, at least 3.0 GB free space on your hard drive for Standard Edition, and 4.5 GB free space for Director's Edition, Win2k/XP.
Recommended: 2.0+ GHz Intel Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon, 512MB RAM, 3D video card with 128+ MB video memory which fully supports DirectX 9.0, at least 3.0 GB free space on your hard drive for Standard Edition, and 4.5 GB free space for Director's Edition, Win2k/XP.
Medal of Honor Pacific Assault has been tested with the following 3D video cards under Windows 2000 and Windows XP: ATI Radeon 8500, 9000 Pro, 9200, 9500, 9600, 9700, 9800, ATI Radeon x300, x600, x800, Nvidia GeForce 3, GeForce3 Ti 200, Nvidia GeForce4 Ti 4200 with AGP8X, GeForce Ti 4600, GeForce4 Ti 4800 SE, Nvidia GeForceFX 5200, 5300, 5500, 5600, 5700, 5750, 5800, 5900, and 5950, Nvidia GeForce 6800. While other cards that fully support DirectX 8.1 may work well, they have not been tested.

snd: 5/5 - excellent effects, wonderfully orchestrated score fits in perfectly
gfx: 4/5 - solid, complex facial animations, spectacular looking particle effects, collision detection problems, poor background textures, resource hog
playability: 4/5 - intense combat with a realistic feel, unfortunate enemy placement method, AI glitches, game levels take a long, LONG time to load, Director's edition offers little to warrant the hefty price
genre: WWII first-person shooter
release: November 2004
developer: EALA
publisher: EA Games
Overall: 84%

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