Following up on last year's Medal of Honor games, Pacific Assault and Rising Sun, Electronic Arts has chosen to bring the series back to the European theater of war with Medal of Honor: European Assault. The game's wide-open levels actually encourage players to explore, giving the series a fresh feel compared to past games and other World War II shooters. Unfortunately, a very brief campaign and no online multiplayer means the fun doesn't last long.
European Assault takes you through four different areas in its brief campaign.
In European Assault, you take the role of William Holt, an American intelligence officer. As a sort of freelance operative, your missions take you to four different areas during the campaign. You'll begin by riding shotgun with the British SAS on their famous St. Nazaire raid, and then you'll be whisked to North Africa where you'll assist General Montgomery and the Desert Rats against Rommel's Afrika Korps. The third campaign has you helping Russian partisans and the Red Army on the eastern front, and the final campaign will put you back with US forces during the Battle of the Bulge. While your adventures cover a lot of ground in a geographic sense, there are only 11 missions in European Assault that are scattered across those four areas. Counting mission restarts, it only takes about eight hours or less to beat the game. A skilled player could conceivably blow through the entire thing in just five or six hours. While the game isn't very long, you'll still probably have a lot of fun while it lasts.
Don't expect the multiplayer element to keep you busy for long either. While the game does include four-player split-screen action on all platforms, there is no online action available on the PS2 or Xbox versions. This is rather disappointing, as these days, online multiplayer is pretty much a requirement for action-oriented shooters such as European Assault. If you're into split-screen, you can enjoy some deathmatch and objective-based modes with three of your best buddies. But the strength of the game still lies in its brief single-player campaign.
The game's levels offer you some options as far as taking different paths.
One of the biggest changes that European Assault brings to the Medal of Honor series is with its level design. Unlike previous games in the series, which felt as though they were built on rails, European Assault's levels are generally wider. This means you can make different choices as far as the path you take when you assess the battlefield. For example, if one side of the battlefield is blocked by a tank, and you don't have a bazooka, you can skirt around to the opposite flank and take on a machine gun nest instead. Many levels also take you through small villages with several buildings, and you can choose the order in which to assault the various structures. It is also possible to make "wrong," or less than ideal, choices. If you penetrate too deeply into an enemy line without regard for your flanks, for instance, you may find yourself nearly surrounded by enemy forces.
Each of the levels includes one or more primary objectives, and several hidden secondary objectives. The more you explore a level, the more secondary objectives you uncover. Completing all of the objectives in a level makes you eligible for more medals and gives you more power-ups for the next level. One of the secondary objectives in every level is to take out a named German opponent. These named targets serve as minibosses. While it's possible to complete many levels without encountering the miniboss, it doesn't make much difference in most cases. These minibosses may take a lot of bullets to defeat, but they are still quite easy to take down as long as you keep them at distance.