Medal of Honor pretty much kickstarted the World War II first-person shooter way back in 1999. It is the longest-running World War II series, but also one of the worst. It did really well early on and just lost focus and sight on what made the series great. The series did make revolutionary leaps and bounds for the shooter genre in general, especially with Frontline, it changed the way we play shooters today. Like Call of Duty, Medal of Honor gave PC owners special treatment early on because it was the only platform that could handle the visuals the game wanted to achieve. Medal of Honor supported PC more than Call of Duty did early on, but later switched to consoles only because that’s where the money was at. As you will see, Medal of Honor was once a great series, and even to this day, is one of the most hated shooter series in existence.
Medal of Honor
Release Date: 10/31/1999 — PS1
GameRankings: PS1: 87%
Medal of Honor was revolutionary because it really pushed the PS1 at the end of its life cycle and was one of the last great games for the system. Being so authentic and delivering a great WWII experience was nothing that older games like Wolfenstein could do. The guns felt great to shoot, and the atmosphere was spectacular. Of course, it wasn’t anything like later games with massive assaults and explosions everywhere, but it got the job done and is still an enjoyable shooter today. Little did everyone know that the series would go on for 15 years and continue to fail release after release. Medal of Honor was a huge seller and was one of the most sold PS1 games of all time. This alone is the reason why it went on for so long. It is also one of the most sold WWII games of all time.
Medal of Honor: Underground
Release Date: 10/23/2000 — PS1
GameRankings: PS1: 85%
After the first game received such high acclaim EA went at it again with a direct sequel. It was just as fantastic and improved the visuals even more on the dated console with the PS2 on the horizon and the powerful Dreamcast already out on the market. Fans still bought the game because it rose the sales charts along with the next-generation games. People were starting to wonder if the series could change much on next-generation consoles and what else it could offer. There’s only so much you can do in a WWII shooter. It wasn’t the million-copy seller like the first game, but it still had a huge following.
Medal of Honor: Allied Assault
Release Date: 1/20/2002 — PC
GameRankings: PC: 91%
While being the most highly acclaimed Medal of Honor game to date, it was for a reason. The game was so cinematic and was beyond what anyone expected since seeing Underground on PS1. The game had huge explosions, amazing visuals that were a graphics card seller and a benchmark game at the time. With 2001 being a quiet year with no MoH insight, this date was highly anticipated for PC owners, but console owners were angry wondering when their shiny new PS2 would get a Medal of Honor treatment, it was right around the corner.
Medal of Honor: Frontline
Release Date: 5/28/2002 — PS2
GameRankings: PS2: 86%
Frontline was deemed the last great Medal of Honor game. I remember borrowing this from a friend and being blown away by the D-Day level when the game opens up. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Explosions everywhere, gunfire, artillery hitting the water, it was cinematic and surreal. PS2 owners got the game first and didn’t come out on Xbox and GC until later in the year. What was here was probably one of the finest World War II shooters ever made, but with Call of Duty on the horizon would people be able to handle two different shooters at the same time? Would EA continue to pump out quality WWII shooters? Only time would tell. Frontline is probably the most sold WWII game of all time. The series in total sold nearly 9 million copies, which was a lot back then. Frontline helped propel Medal of Honor to make future games.
Medal of Honor: Frontline
Release Date: 11/10/2002 — Xbox, NGC
GameRankings: Xbox, NGC: 78%
Being released just 6 months after the PS2 game, it wasn’t received very well. Frontline became a PS2 console seller and Frontline promised multiplayer updated graphics and 5.1 Dolby Digital sound. It was one impressive package and was as close as you got to HD gaming back then, but everyone was already getting tired of the WWII genre. Allied Assault was blowing PC gamers away and this new Call of Duty was just around the corner with more Medal of Honor games for the holiday season.
Medal of Honor: Allied Assault Spearhead
Release Date: 11/11/2002 — PC
GameRankings: PC: 75%
With Frontline out and Allied Assault released just 10 months prior, PC gamers were ready for an expansion. Spearhead was solid but was criticized for being too short and not offering much news for the series. The expansion was solid but just didn’t do enough news to wow players into thinking it was the best shooter out still. Would the next expansion do what Spearhead didn’t? No one knew. With Battlefield 1942 being released most PC gamers moved on to that series and were quickly crowning it as the best multiplayer shooter at the time, how could MoH compete?
Medal of Honor: Underground
Release Date: 12/2/2002 — GBA
GameRankings: GBA: 49%
With handhelds still not being very powerful, the GBA was about as powerful as they came and really the only handheld around. Underground couldn’t translate its 3D graphics over so what did it do? Try to force it making it one of the ugliest GBA games ever made. Being the first portable outing for Medal of Honor was tough and Nintendo fans were quickly let down. It wasn’t just bad, it was just downright ugly. The graphics were colorful pixelated rainbows of washed-out nonsense. You couldn’t tell what anything was and it just played badly. Nintendo fans quickly learned that FPS games just didn’t work on the GBA. I feel sorry for all 80,000 souls who bought the game.
Medal of Honor: Allied Assault Breakthrough
Release Date: 9/22/2003 — PC
GameRankings: PC: 68%
With no MoH games being released during 2003 fans were wondering what was going on. Allied Assault fans were getting bored with Spearhead and countless delays pushed Breakthrough back. Upon release, fans were highly disappointed that it didn’t deliver not only on the greatness of Spearhead, but didn’t add anything new or interesting. In fact, Breakthrough was better off not being released at all. It was just more of the same and fans were really bored of the series by now. Medal of Honor hit a rut in 2003 and never seemed to get out of it. With Battlefield 1942’s expansion out as well fans quickly forgot about Allied Assault and moved on.
Medal of Honor: Rising Sun
Release Date: 11/11/2003 — PS2, Xbox, NGC
GameRankings: PS2: 69%
Nearly 18 months later the highly anticipated Rising Sun was released following Frontline. Being based on the Pearl Harbor assault from Japan it promised to finally do something new for the series, but really just felt like an expansion to Frontline. It was also highly unpolished and just didn’t feel as spectacular as Frontline. This was one of the first signs of EA pumping out new MoH games to get sales. It was becoming quantity over quality and it showed in Rising Sun. I actually remember renting this and not really noticing much of a difference from Frontline and really enjoyed it, but if I were to go back now I would notice. 2003 was a sad year for MoH, nearly a year of waiting for bad games. Despite the game getting poor reviews, it went on to sell nearly as much as Frontline. Rising Sun is one of the best-selling WWII games of all time.
Medal of Honor: Infiltrator
Release Date: 11/17/2003 — GBA
GameRankings: GBA: 81%
Wow, hold the phone! A good MoH game came out in 2003 but it was on the GBA? No way! Learning from their mistake with Underground EA made this from the ground up and was a top-down shooter. It had excellent graphics and provided the MoH experience everyone loved. This would also go on to be the best MoH handheld game and one of the last great games in the series. It was praised for mixing what everyone loved about MoH with cartoony shooters that were popular on GBA at the time. There were even a few FPS sections that were done right. It sold fairly well for a GBA game, but EA decided it didn’t sell well enough.
Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault
Release Date: 11/4/2004 — PC
GameRankings: PC: 79%
2004 was a slow year for MoH. After all, the harsh reception of the games for 2003 EA played it slowly from here on out, yet kept delivering games no one wanted. 2004/2005 was a year when WWII was at its peak and kept slamming our systems with endless WWII shooters. Pacific Assault returned to PCs and was exclusive to make PC fans happy. The game was well-received for actually doing something new and bringing us to the Pacific theatre of the war and being very cinematic. It also pushed PCs to their max requiring GPU upgrades yet again. Pacific Assault would be the last PC exclusive Medal of Honor.
Medal of Honor: European Assault
Release Date: 6/7/2005 — PS2, Xbox, NGC
GameRankings: PS2, Xbox: 73%
2005 was the peak of WWII shooters and European Assault was the only release for Medal of Honor. It was praised for trying something new by giving you multiple paths and feeling very solid, the game knew what it was doing. The only issue was that it was the same game we’ve played dozens of times already. How many times can we replay Operation Market Garden or some other part of the war? By now they all felt the same, just shoot every German that passes on screen. The MoH releases start trickling down at this point while Call of Duty is in full force. The Xbox 360 is due out in just 5 months and the highly anticipated Call of Duty 2 comes out just three months from now, how can Medal of Honor keep up? Despite the mediocre reviews, the game sold surprisingly well with over 2 million copies sold.
Medal of Honor Heroes
Release Date: 10/20/2006 — PSP
GameRankings: PSP: 69%
EA beat Activision to the punch for releasing a WWII shooter on the PSP. 2006 was another slow year for Medal of Honor. Call of Duty was unleashed on next-generation consoles while everyone was wondering if Medal of Honor had finally died. Heroes were praised for controlling well on PSP and looking very good, but it was really short and offered nothing new from previous games in the series. It was a hit with PSP fans and went on to have a sequel less than a year later. It seems that PSP owners were desperate for a good shooter because it was one of the best selling PSP games, and best selling MoH games in a long time. The high sales garnered a sequel.
Medal of Honor: Vanguard
Release Date: 3/26/2007 — PS2, Wii
GameRankings: PS2: 64%
2007 was a confusing year for Medal of Honor. While every next-generation console was out, they were still making games for the dated PS2. Why Vanguard was released is beyond anyone’s guess. It didn’t need to exist, yet did so anyway. The game was literally just the same WWII shooter that everyone was sick of and sold poorly, in fact, most people forgot this game even existed. It was lost in the next-generation hits that were being released. This was the first Medal of Honor game on Wii and suffered from terrible controls. The genre was slowly petering out, yet Medal of Honor kept trying to cling on like a desperate lover. It showed that gamers just didn’t want Medal of Honor anymore, the game sold less than 100,000 copies and was the worst-selling MoH game of all time.
Medal of Honor: Airborne
Release Date: 9/4/2007 — PS3, X360, PC
GameRankings: PC: 77%
EA finally released their one and only next-generation WWII shooter and was considered one of the worst. The game was literally the same again just prettier. It got everyone’s attention because it looked fantastic, but no one cared. It tried an “open environment” approach by allowing you to drop down anywhere on the map and pursue objectives as you please. The issue was that the game was extremely difficult and sent dozens upon dozens of enemies after you when you couldn’t stand a chance, it didn’t help that the weapons were highly inaccurate. By now EA finally got the hint, but they needed one last hoopla for 2007. The graphics were a main selling point for the game and it sold surprisingly well, however not nearly as much as older games in the series.
Medal of Honor Heroes 2
Release Date: 11/13/2007 — PSP, Wii
GameRankings: Wii: 74%
The final Medal of Honor WWII shooter went out on the Wii with great success. It was fun on rails arcade shooter, but in the end, was exactly the same as the rest. The PSP version wasn’t well-liked because the Wii version was superior thanks to the motion controls. Heroes 2 was just another WWII shooter that no one asked for though, the series should have died three years prior. The series kept proving to everyone that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks and kept forcing its way onto shelves like a bully. PSP fans just ate the game up, but only sold half of what the first Heroes game sold.
The Medal of Honor WWII series sold over 30 million copies making it the second best-selling WWII franchise of all time, just a few million shy of Call of Duty. It was a juggernaut that gave EA billions of dollars. In the end Medal of Honor started out great and trickled down into mediocrity. It had a hard time jumping to next-generation consoles and released way too many games no one asked for. It shows that sequelitis can set in and ruin even mammoth franchises like Medal of Honor. I grew up with these games as a kid and played them over the years and lost interest after Call of Duty became the superior game. It had fewer releases, but the games were more fun and were just better in many ways.