Winner of the Macworld Award for best entertainment software, Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, proved to be one of last year’s most addictive games. It combined an excellent shoot ’em up style with realistic scenery and a WWII story line. But better still, once you’ve finished the game, you can play online with dozens of other players.
That’s where it gets addictive, but there are a limited number of scenarios, and using third-party maps can be confusing. That’s where the Spearhead expansion pack comes in: it updates the game with more single-player missions, and more multiplayer scenarios.
To say that I’ve been eagerly awaiting this expansion pack would be an understatement. I’m still addicted to MOH:AA in an almost unhealthy way, but the maps are getting boring; I wanted new terrain.
When I got the box, I had a horrific revelation. The relatively relaxed minimum requirements of the original version have now been replaced by rather more stringent requirements.
Where before a 450MHz processor was needed, now 733MHz is the minimum. Also, where the ATI Rage 128 video card was acceptable before, now an NVidia GeForce card with 16MB of video memory, or preferably 32MB, is necessary. My home machine is a healthy G4 466MHz, with 1.5GB of RAM, a GeForce 32MB card, and a SCSI RAID system built-in. It’s astonishing that it isn’t up to the job, but it isn’t – I tried.
Into the fray
Anyway, once I found a machine beefy enough to run MOH: Spearhead, the fun finally started. There’s a lot of new terrain in the multiplayer levels, and as I didn’t yet know the maps intimately, I was getting my butt kicked. It was time to go back to school and play the single-player levels.
These are similar to those in the original game, but there are a few new weapons, including smoke grenades, a Sten gun, an Enfield Mark One rifle, and a Soviet submachine gun. You also get to try out various stationary weapons, from German machinegun positions to full-on artillery.
While the single-player action is great fun, it’s really just a practice-ground to get used to the new aspects of the gameplay. The real battleground is the online multiplayer games. There are now 12 new multiplayer levels, and new games such as tug-of-war that rely on more team play than single every-man-for-himself tactics.
Learning to use smoke grenades is one new thing, but learning all the nooks and crannies of the maps is quite time consuming, especially when you keep getting shot. Once you get to grips with the new ways, however, it’s far better than the original.
There’s no doubt that this is a must-have expansion to the original game. However, whether it remains a must-have game if it requires a new computer to run is something I’m still trying to work out.
But I suppose my computer is getting a bit long in the tooth… does anybody want to buy it?