Following the success of the original Medal of Honor released in 1999 for the PlayStation, Electronic Arts and Dreamwork Interactive set out to produce a sequel. One year later in 2000, they produced Medal of Honor: Underground for the PlayStation. My review of the original Medal of Honor was quite positive but Underground had some serious flaws that could not be overlooked.
In the first Medal of Honor, you took control of Jimmy Patterson as he completed missions during World War II under the command of his French penpal Manon Batiste. In the sequel, the player controls Manon herself set before Jimmy Patterson arrives and shows how she helped liberate the French from the Nazis.
I thought it was smart to include a familiar character in the sequel and to turn the spotlight to Manon who you never saw in the first game but heard plenty from. Manon’s story includes showing how she rose to power in the resistance first starting with a mission paired with her brother who ends up being killed and ends with a final push in Paris as she helps force back the Nazi army from the French capital. The story is again told through real World War II footage on an old projector. I don’t care much for the presentation this time around as I barely paid attention to when the clips were playing. The real information you’ll need to complete your missions is in the letters that are sent from Manon’s companions who request her to do specific tasks during her mission.
Medal of Honor: Underground is essentially the original Medal of Honor just repainted but with more bugs and less fun. This is what happens when companies get greedy. They see the success of a game and want a sequel right away, skipping the care and attention to detail that it takes to produce a proper game.
The menu of the game is just as great as the first, this time you’re in an underground bunker that’s been disguised as a winery. Highlighting objects reveal sub-menus like options, multiplayer, new game, etc… presentation before gameplay was never in question. It’s when the gameplay starts that Underground falls well short of the original.
It doesn’t seem that there have been any changes to the enemies. They all look the same, including all the death animations. There was nothing new and that was disappointing but again easy for the team at EA just green light the same game. Sound effects are the same too, you’ll hear the same bullet clanks and explosions. It’s not bad, it just comes off as lazy. Now let’s get to the real problems.
Medal of Honor: Underground is an overall mess. Passageways are buggy, if you get too close to a corner expect the wall to vibrate until you move away from it. Moving through openings are not as smooth as they once were. Spaces will be open and you’ll make your way through a door but you’ll get stuck and have to try again and again until you either push through the opening or give up. Sometimes you’ll get slowdowns when there are too many enemies, especially when you are reloading. There was a mission when you are in a castle and you’re in a display room. If you approach the corner of the room everything just turns black except the displays. It’s like they just forgot to program the wall and I went back and forth through the wall again and again just to test it out.
Those bugs are very annoying but are nothing compared to by far the worst glitch. Mission after mission, enemies will just appear out of thin air. Worst yet, they will appear ON TOP OF YOU. There were too many times to count when I would clear a room, go about my business, and then turn around and proceed only to watch new enemies appear out of thin air and start firing at me. It led to multiple deaths but the worse was when I would be making my way through narrow hallways and I’d look around the corner and start a firefight only to have a soldier spawn right on top of me. It was complete garbage and made my playthrough very frustrating and unfair. Pair this with some ammo on the floor that was unobtainable and this led to a game that lives in the shadow of the original.
Level design was unique and many of the missions felt different than the previous game, which was a good thing. You’ll fight in France and even Africa. The environments were fun to explore and they looked okay for the most part. I mentioned a castle level earlier and it’s here where you’ll face Nazi Knights. I encountered one who is in full armor. He was posing like a statue and I took a shot at him. He didn’t move so I didn’t think anything of it and continued down the hallway. I heard metal footsteps behind me and turned around to see the suit of armor chasing me with his sword raised. It gave me a jump but I quickly engaged him. There were several other knights throughout the level and I thought that was a cool inclusion. The worst level by far was a mission where you had to destroy several machines and then a huge supply room. This takes like 20 minutes to complete but the final part is placing the bomb and then sprinting toward an exit that’s about 100 feet down a twisting hallway. If you don’t do it in time you’ll die too. I died during the first playthrough but thought I got the hell out of that room pretty quickly for not knowing what was coming. I reread the mission log and it says you need to run as soon as you plant the bomb. I made my way through the entire mission again which takes up a good portion of time, planted the bomb and sprinted away, toward the exit, I couldn’t have done it any better and I still died. It was such BS. You have to be perfect to get out of there alive and you have a 95% chance of death each time. What really sucks is that these long missions have no checkpoints. It’d be great if after a halfway point through your objectives you get a checkpoint but nope if you die you have to restart the whole mission again. The final mission has you in an underground train station where you set the tracks to make the trains collide killing a bunch of Nazis. How poetic for an ending as this entire game was a train wreck.
I loved the first Medal of Honor and played it a ton as a kid but never had Underground. One of my friends did but I never heard him say much about it. Maybe he thought it sucked too.
Medal of Honor: Underground is just a cash grab for EA and Dreamworks Interactive. It’s the same game as Medal of Honor with the same animations and sounds, just with different missions and ten times the bugs. It’s an extreme disappointment compared to the original as the bugs, respawning enemies, and cheap death level designs ruin what could have been a great game.
Medal of Honor: Underground scores a 6.1 out of 10.
Do you remember when Medal of Honor: Underground first came out? Did you have issues with the bugging gameplay and enemies that respawned out of thin air? Did you like this game as much or even better than the original? Let me know your memories and thoughts, I’d love to read the comments.
If you’d like to own a copy of Medal of Honor: Underground, you can purchase a used copy of it for the PlayStation for $13 on eBay.