Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Palm Trees in the Pacific

Of course I heard again the call of duty and found myself shipped off to the Pacific. It was no accident. The excitement of 're-living' this part of World War 2 came from watching and knowing the history and the documentaries. Also a film called The Thin Red Line, an atmospheric, philosophical version of the Americans versus the uncompromising Japanese.The result: Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault.

The palm trees. I won’t forget their resonance. Even in reality - on holiday on a Grecian island - I could remember them. You see, on the PC, I had battled my way through the island sections, where all I could see was the sway of undergrowth and the glimpse of Japanese soldier helmets. Then... forced to swoon to the ground with the sudden shell-shock and was cast onto my back, praying to the sky. It's here you get to see these palms swaying and the last few seconds of action from your allies. Or - if no allies were nearby to revive you, or the damage was too severe - your shadowy enemy sticking you with a bayonet.

In these Call of Duty/Medal of Honor experiences you keep moving. That’s the pull of them. Their pace. You run with a crowd and if you stay too long or fall back too far… it’s over. Eventually the waves and waves of Japanese come and each section becomes harder to break through. But it’s never really too hard. It just takes time. And a lot of shooting. Sometimes it’s broken up with a go on a big gun or a trip on a plane (with guns). No matter. You know you have to do some shooting. But this is arcade gaming; addictive, but wrapped up in a serious, world war setting that is some sort of homage to our heroes. Or homage to the second section of Saving Private Ryan that spawned a mass of historic shooting tributes. A sheer love of being in the action.

What else was great about this title? Call of Duty had matured by this time and the Medal of Honor series made attempts at making it even more interesting. Like sending commands to your comrades to co-ordinate fighting and work more as a team. Multiplayer online was improving. And we had a full Pearl Harbor level, where we are driven on a tour of the base just as the attack commences. History re-imagined but for fun.

It can't be long before more titles based on this period of WW2 will return. But we have seen the palms at midnight...

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