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Medal of Honor: Allied Assault
WWII's Poster Child
by Cindy Yans

On one of the walls in the offices of Electronic Arts is a mock recruitment poster. It pictures a very enthusiastic soldier saying, "I just got three Nazis before breakfast!" And the caption reads, "Join now before they're all gone." It seems to indicate, "Nazis! Part of a balanced breakfast." While this take on WWII is obviously tongue-in-cheek, Medal of Honor: Allied Assault is most certainly not.

The only people staying on this beach are the dead and those going to die! Welcome to Hell, D-Day style. The view from a German bunker.

The impetus for Allied Assault was to bring the PlayStation's Medal of Honor franchise to the PC and the Xbox. The first title was created by Dreamworks Interactive when it was still under the auspices of Steven Spielberg back in 1997. Two years later, producer Peter Hirschmann and his team gave birth to Spielberg's dream: a World War II game that came as close to being as lifelike as Saving Private Ryan. Now, the dream lives with Electronic Arts, developer 2015, and EALA (Electronic Arts Los Angeles, formerly Dreamworks Interactive).

The ins and outs
Another poster involved with this title's concept is one that you may remember. It portrays a bevy of soldiers in a Higgins boat, the focal one of whom is a strikingly earnest young man. "Everyone who sees that points to the guy and says, 'I wanna play him'", explains PR manager Anne Marie Stein. "And we say, 'Good, 'cause that's exactly who you're going to play.'" Hence, you assume the role of OSS recruit Lt. Mike Powell, member of the famed 1st Ranger Battalion. The game challenges you to 24 scenarios based on historical military campaigns of World War II, through North Africa and France, over the tundra of Norway, and across the Rhine into Nazi Germany.

Each of the scenarios will offer a challenging mission, from storming Omaha beach to destroy all fixed major gun emplacements along the top of the bluff, to saving London from detonation by fireworks by infiltrating a German staging area and sabotaging its supply of V2 rockets. While many games would stop the mission after you did the dirty deed and then segue into the Cut Scene of Congratulations, Medal of Honor will concentrate as much on exfiltration as infiltration—i.e. in most cases, getting the hell out of there is the ultimate goal.

Sharks are the least of your worries on this beach. The new Gestapo Blow-up Dolls are in! Get yours for the Fuhrer's Birthday celebration! Your '03 Springfield will make short work of this Nazi guard.

You'll face abundant enemies, such as the Afrika Corps officers, SS Hund-Patroller, SS Polizei, Wehrmacht snipers and grenadiers, and, of course, Gestapo officers. And you'll face their arsenals and vehicles—from the Tiger Mark I Heavy Tank, Stuka Dive Bombers, and V2 Rockets, to the Panzerschreck and Mauser KAR98K.

Not to worry; you'll have a variety of vehicles at your disposal, and you'll be able to jump onto most things you come across, manned or not, including the fully interactive M4 Sherman tank and the M3 Half Track. You'll be able to use German weapons as well, in addition to your own MP40 Machine guns and M1918A2 Browning automatic rifle. In all, there are over 21 historically accurate World War II era weapons, and more than 18 enemy vehicles.

An environment to Dye for
Many of the early Medal of Honor developers are still with the project and are now working on 2015's team. Peter Hirschmann still keeps a watchful eye on the project, making sure that all is what it should be. They are using many resources, including the Congressional Medal of Honor Society for mission validation, the Smithsonian Institution's WWII aviation expert, and a museum in Indio, California that has a lot of WWII relics. Folks at the museum are always on hand to provide information and resources for the Medal of Honor series' representation of weaponry, vehicles and aircraft.

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