How Medal of Honor: Allied Assault Gave Birth To The Modern Military Shooter

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“Clear the ramp. Thirty seconds!”

A few moments later, as the Higgens Boat approaches Omah Beach. Two artillery shells drop harmlessly on your side, the third strikes the boat next to you and it erupts in flames. Then the beach and what awaits you looms, the boat stops, and the ramp lowers.

So begins the most influential 30 minutes of any shooter of the past two decades.

Allied Assault was the first game that was truly cinematic, and set the modern template of first person military shooters that we see today. Allied Assault was like a really good movie but in videogame format, nowadays that might be too similar to Call of Duty and other games given how many of them end up trying to replicate what you see in the cinema but back in 2002, a game being immersive and creating something out of a Hollywood film was revolutionary. Back then, Cinema’s influence in videogames was restricted to cutscenes and not gameplay.

Medal of Honor already had a history of pushing ground and being like a movie, since it was created by Spielberg  in 1999 with the original Medal of Honor on the original Playstation. Allied Assault took it to the next level, often recreating the scenes from Saving Private Ryan but one production value went into a legendary sequence that would forever change the gaming landscape before Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare ever did, it was the Omah Beach level.

That experience was harrowing, cinematic, and immersive. That scene was helped by the fantastic audio that accompanied it: 88 shells falling beside you, men screaming in terror, and machine gun rounds from the MG42’s inside the bunkers snapping past your ears and landing in the sand and water and fellow teammates. That level and what accompanies that level is astonishing, that level itself was short, sharp and gut-wrenching and it was a perfect start. What follows after that is one of the greatest games of all time, the Bocage level in particular is a great level but one level that stands out the most outside of the Omah Beach level is the Siegfried Line set of missions. Those missions are haunting as the battered and defeated Germans ambush you behind trees and inside bunkers, and as you try to destroy Fort Schmerzen once and for all.

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Which is strange, because one of the levels that will always be seered into my brain is the “Sniper Town.” level, because it changes the gameplay and it’s completely different then what came before. The level takes place in a town in Normandy, a town that resembles the town of Neuville from Saving Private Ryan, the gameplay here is slow and brooding, as well as tense as you try to scramble cover to cover as German marksmen play games with you. That level in particular was very frustrating and upsetting to me, as I made mistake after mistake failing in realize what I was doing wrong until probably the eighth try when I realized that I was rushing too often and I had to wait until those marksmen reloaded or stopped firing. That level is probably one of the truest to the conflict before the Allies rolled through Germany in 1945, it was the last breath of the war before that epic final mission rolled around. This is a moment that will forever stay with me.

It’s a little bit weird  to see that in the 15 years that Allied Assault released, military shooters have remained the same to some sort of degree. The Third Reich has been replaced with the affairs of the modern day to a hypothetical far future where soldiers have become cyborgs and have advanced technology or even going further back in time to a war where it was nothing but trench warfare and the beginning of modern warfare. We fight these wars the same way we did when we played Allied Assault way back when, there are some differences like regenerating health, bullet drop, guns have weight to them, there’s is some sort limitation to how many guns you can carry in some games but we fight them like we did way back when.  The overall tone that Allied Assault had can be seen in games today like Battlefield 1 and Crysis, these games and many other games like for example, Dead Space owes alot to Allied Assault because it pushed cinematic gameplay and concept first and the story was taking a backseat to the gameplay and concept that videogames can be cinematic and should be taken seriously as an art form.

Unlike the modern games of today, Allied Assault told it’s story through gameplay and never took control away from the player and there wasn’t any cutscenes, everything was told through gameplay and you understood what was going on and it was a very good shooter with great scripted moments instead of being overly too scripted like the recent installments of Call of Duty or Battlefield. Medal of Honor: Allied Assault never forget that it was a videogame, and not a film.

The Omah Beach level in particular is something that I wouldn’t see again since Allied Assault, sure I would see it again of course but on that level where it was to the point of almost being real to you and slightly believable is something that I wouldn’t see again, it’s something that hasn’t been rivaled. A few moments came close like in Call of Duty 4, Call of Duty 2’s Pointe Du Hoc level, Call of Duty’s United Offensive’s Bastonge level but they weren’t on the same level as Omah Beach from Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, there is no moment in modern gaming that I have encountered something like that.

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Allied Assault isn’t a homage to Saving Private Ryan or any WW2 pieces of cinema, Allied Assault was the first game to challenge the perception of videogames as an art form, it did it before Call of Duty 4 would come around a few years later, Allied Assault stated that videogames can be cinematic and thought-provoking just as it is in the cinema.

In the 15 years since Allied Assault saw release, there have been better shooters but all of this modern military shooters that we see owe alot of their heritage and background to Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. Allied Assault changed gaming forever much like DOOM did back in 1993, Allied Assault is a game that I will forever cherish in my heart.

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