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Interviews

Medal of Honor assaults Europe

EA's new WWII shooter exploded in our exclusive interview with European Assault's executive producer

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Next we move to North Africa to fight against Rommel alongside the Desert Rats. These guys became famous for triumphing against all odds with very little resources and won a huge strategic victory in that theatre of conflict.

Then there's Russia, where the Red Army - essentially a bunch of citizens using anything they can get their hands on to repel the Nazis - managed to overcome huge odds in some truly terrible conditions.

And finally we've got the Battle of the Bulge, the scene for some of the most amazing acts of heroism throughout the war. The last Blitzkreig was bombing the hell out of the guys here, but they managed to come through.

At the centre of all of this is the player. You're the pivotal character amongst the most pivotal moments of the Second World War.

Moving across different theatres of conflict is a new feature for the Medal of Honor franchise. What attracted you to this type of gameplay and how do they link together in the overarcing storyline?

Dan Winters: We really wanted to concentrate on the work of the Office of Strategic Services - the OSS - which was started in 1941 by Roosevelt to emulate some of Britain's intel-gathering agencies. Roosevelt sent a gentleman named William Donovan to Europe to work alongside the Allied European forces to drive for secret intel.

So the experiences of our OSS character, who's called William Holt, are at the centre of our storyline. The way we like to sum it up is you get to fight the battles you never knew in the war you thought you did.

It made sense to use many different locations because that lets us tell two stories: the story of how the war turned in favour of the Allies, and the story of William Holt. Thing is, this guy's an American going into places where he's not necessarily wanted. In St. Nazaire you've got all these highly-trained Commandos who are a little suspicious of you. Similarly, in North Africa the Desert Rats know that one guy could get them all killed, so they're unsure about you. In Russia the Red Army don't even know why you're there. It's only when you get to The Battle of the Bulge and rejoin the Americans that you get some kind of redemption. So as the story unfolds you'll be battling not just to defeat the Nazis, but also to be accepted by your allies. It's a story of overcoming obstacles against all odds.

We have a named author working on the storyline who I can't name at the moment, but this guy's a big screenwriter who has worked on some very big feature films.

Can you tell us more about the Combat Squad Control?

Dan Winters: The connection to your squad is hugely important in European Assault and we wanted to incorporate the essence of being a leader in World War II. When we started on Combat Squad Control we had all these big ideas but it turned out that the simpler it is, the better. As soon as you start getting too complicated you're removed from the world, and we didn't want to lose sight of the fact that Medal of Honor is still a first-person shooter. So we kept it focussed, and consequently effective.

If you send your squad forward they'll move to cover automatically. They're smart enough to know that they need cover, even when there's no threat evident. They'll use suppressing fire on enemy positions, and they'll engage the enemy with fire or melee attacks as they make contact.

You're rewarded for keeping your squad alive, and punished for letting them die in two ways - they're not there to help you and your Rally Meter is depleted.

What improvements have you made to the enemy AI?

Dan Winters: One of the great things Dale Dye told us was that when you go into battle you always have a plan, but you've got to remember that the enemy has a vote. Those plans can change pretty quickly once the enemy turns up. We really wanted to articulate that with European Assault - the enemies aren't just drones, but they have a vested interest in how this battle turns out!

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