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Medal of Honor: Allied Assault

Early in the first title's development, with the goal of authenticity in mind, Dreamworks hired the man who is probably Hollywood's preeminent military consultant to work with the Medal of Honor team. Once and always a working soldier, Captain Dale Dye has brought his expertise in military history to more than sixty feature films, television shows, and literary works, including Platoon, The Thin Red Line, and Saving Private Ryan. Dye, a Purple Heart recipient, used his Marine Corps Drill Instructor experience to whip the development team into shape. He has done the same for Allied Assault, forcing thousands of push-ups upon what had once been a very indolent team of artists and animators.

Ya know, doesn't this look a lot like that village in Saving Private Ryan? Drawing a bead. A Nazi officer in the crosshairs.

Actually, he did put the team into an actual training camp, so they might better understand how a soldier stands, how he holds his weapon, how he turns, switches, and falls. He also supplied a lot of information about what the actual battles may have been like—what type of enemy you were likely to have encountered, what rank they were—all to help the designers gain even a modicum of understanding about times during World War II. And they understood. And it shows.

Details, details�
At the Electronic Entertainment Expo in May of this year, thousands of people waited for hours in line to catch a first glimpse of this game in action, and the crowd was absolutely awed by what they saw. "It's all a cut scene—just a demo" some people said. "No. I saw someone actually controlling it in the back," said others. "Anything would look good on a screen that huge," concluded the skeptics. Well, it turned out that the gameplay showed was real, and when given a first-hand look at the game on a much smaller screen, it's just as exciting.

A heavily modified version of the Quake III engine spins an extraordinary elegant take on the outdoors, including realistic 3D flora, with stunning use of light and real-time shadows. Trees, grass, shrubs, and bushes are filled with life—the level of detail is amazing. As you travel from scene to scene, you'll be able to interact with allies, and there are small scripted bits that enable you to play along as though you are part of the company—or you can choose not to affiliate, and go it more or less "alone." Whichever way you play, though, you will be treated to the fabulous animations of the militarily-trained artists. The facial expressions of the characters are more realistic than most in the world of first-person shooters, and the death animations�well, you can almost feel the ground thud as the wounded crumple and hit the dirt. There are over 1000 unique character animations, so you don't get that "assembly line" feeling that often comes from a first-person shooter with cookie cutter monsters.

War-torn Europe looks suitably grim in Medal of Honor. The BAR is great for clearing ruins of lurking Germans. The houses and landscaping in the game are quite realistic.

Thanks to Sound Designers Erik Kraber and Jack Grillo, the sound quality seems so well integrated into the action that it draws you right in to the game world. Shell cases flying, bullets whizzing by, bullets not whizzing by, explosions, tank treads, echoes of your sniper rifle—all these and more create very realistic tension and excitement. The composer of the original game's score, Michael Giacchino, is back on board and working with the Seattle Symphony to present a whole new, extremely orchestral score.

As usual�
Hirschmann says, "One of the Skipper's [Dye's] favorite sayings is, 'There's no such thing as a surviving dumb infantryman.' That in a nutshell is Captain Dye's legacy with Allied Assault, something that hopefully we've built into every aspect of the gameplay. You have to think while you play it."

As usual, though, no matter how noble the concept, or how gorgeous the trappings—and they are gorgeous—a game's success or failure will be a consequence of mission integrity, and play balance. But if looks could kill, though, we'd all be dead at the hands of this game's creators.

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