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Medal of Honor Underground
Platform:  Playstation
# of Players:  2
Developer:  Dreamworks
Publisher:  EA
Ratings:  Teen
Memory Req.:  1 block
Medal of Honor Underground is the sequel to last yearís critically acclaimed First Person Shooter, Medal of Honor. This game definitely is tops in the FPS genre for consoles. Not only is there the one player mode, which offers addictive, exciting gameplay on 24 levels. It also offers a split screen, 2-player mode.

This time you are Manon, Jimmy Pattersonís ally from the original MOH. Behind enemy lines, you struggle to liberate your fallen homeland from the Ratzi Invaders.

In MOHU there are all new locales for you to fight. There are 7 missions through 24 diverse levels. One of the things I didnít like about the first MOH is that the levels seemed fairly similar. Most levels were dark and had a uniform browns and grays. Now you fight in Paris, Morocco, Greece. Germany and many more! The amount of daytime levels has increased, and Dreamworks had provided a great deal of variety in the game. The levels themselves are huge and thatís a big plus. Dreamworks really went the extra mile to design intricate levels and it shows. There are levels that are labyrinths but in the settings they are believable and make perfect sense. The Moroccan levels are especially well done, with guys in fezzes running and gunning with Middle Eastern music as a backdrop to add atmosphere.

One of the most significant aspects of gameplay is the Computerís AI. It is probably the toughest AI I have ever encountered in a console FPS. As in the first MOH, the Nazis will duck for cover, ambush, and act almost like real humans would. Most notably, if you throw your grenades too soon, theyíll throw emí right back at you. In MOHU the AI has been fine-tuned to an almost frightening level. The difficulty level of this game is intermediate though. Most of the time when I had to replay a level again and again was when I was trying to "cowboy" my way through a level.

A new feature in the game is the inclusion if vehicles. Motorcycles, half-tracks and tanks are now part of the game. This really adds to the atmosphere of the game being modeled after real WWII vehicles. Feature #2 is called the "Buddy Mode". This means a partner will show up and you have to keep them alive until they do something critical for your mission to succeed. They also have a "Disguise Mode". Its name is misleading though. It gives you the ability to photograph soldiers on some levels. Itís a nice little touch, but doesnít really add much to gameplay.

There are some faults with this title though. The controls could use a little more tweaking. The crosshairs are a bit sluggish. The "fast crosshairs" option is fairly inaccurate; it sweeps across the screen while the Ratziís aim is dead on.

Another problem I found with the game is the collision detection. It gets downright frustrating when youíve got a clear bead on an enemy and when you pull the trigger and a bullet hole appears in midair. Unfortunately, it doesnít go both ways. Enemy bullets whiz through bushes and edges of doors at every opportunity. Many hits are taken in situations when this collision problem appears. Strafing through doorways and small hallways is also troublesome. I found myself stuttering through most of them to the point where I stopped using this most basic FPS strategy.

I have to say, with these problems I still canít recommend MOHU enough! The gameplay itself is phenomenally addictive and I found myself actually wanting to play levels over again. The overall product is an incredibly high quality shooter that I wouldnít hesitate to recommend. The atmosphere, gameplay, graphics, music and enemy AI makes for a top-notch game. Medal of Honor Underground does not disappoint and I canít wait to see a version on the PS 2!

John Cooper

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