With the official reveal of Call of Duty WWII, I thought I would take a look back at one of the first war games I ever played (that’s not Call of Duty….. makes sense right?). Medal of Honor Frontline was released for the PS2 on May 29th, 2002. I was 16 (almost 17) at the time, and it blew my mind. Right from the get go I was hooked. It was unlike anything I had played before. Having watched Saving Private Ryan beforehand, it felt like I was in the movie. The gameplay was raw, the soundtrack beautiful and tragic. It broke new ground and set the stage for all war games to come.
Players take on the role of Lt. James “Jimmy” Patterson. Your journey taking you through Europe into Nazi Germany during World War 2. It played like your typical first person shooter, but where it set itself apart was in its soundtrack and levels. Parachuting into Holland countryside, one of your buddies gets caught on a windmill during landing. He asks you to help him get down but is quickly shot to death before you have a chance to react. Your A.I teammates feel real, which made it all the more difficult when they were gunned down in combat. You’ll fight through numerous missions including sabotaging a U-boat that’s prowling the waters around France, Nijmegen Bridge, and in one of the most impactful openings in a video game, storm the beaches of normandy on D-Day. It would be represented again in Medal of Honor: Allied Assault & Call of Duty 2 (it’s also going to appear again in the upcoming Call of duty WWII). It’s definitely one of the most memorable parts in the game. The mission that affected me the most though was Arnhem Knights. You meet up with a British soldier by the name of Master Sgt Kelso during Operation Market Garden. Your task is to make your way through the war torn city with the allies to meet up with a Dutch Resistance contact named Jigs. The music is haunting and only further magnified as you battle the nazis throughout dilapidated buildings. Some people call it the best level in the entire series. While some would disagree, you can’t deny the impact it has. The ambience is heartbreaking. It’s one of those levels that will stick with you long after you’ve finished beating the game.
The graphics are outdated (but for the time were phenomenal) and the gameplay isn’t as tight as I remember. They did release a remastered version on PS3, complete with original controls, or new ones that could allow you to aim down the sights. Hopefully we will see another remaster or just a new Medal of Honor entry altogether. Call of Duty & Battlefield became the more popular choices, but I will always remember Medal of Honor Frontline for giving me that giant, emotional punch to the gut. It will remain a benchmark title, something other war games have strived to duplicate, and will continue to do so. – NVJ