The Hell of Omaha
I died. I had just reached the shingle on Omaha beach when a bullet from an MG42 took away the last 4 bits of health I had. I was devastated, after clawing my way through the sea, past the obstacles and up the beach I saw safety, just to have it taken away at the last moment. What was even more galling was the fact that I had completed my objective of getting to the shingle, though it wasn’t enough to save me.
I tried again, this time I made it to the shingle and met up with the Captain, I was not impressed with what he had to say. He was sending me back down to beach to grab some explosives to be used to blow a path through the shingle. I glanced at my health, I was down to 4, again. I knew that it was suicide to try and get the Bangalore’s in my current state; I crawled further along the shingle to find a medic, my saviour. I was patched up to 54 little points of health and felt ready to run madly down the beach to get those much needed explosives.
Once I had returned safely with the bangers the Captain blew a whole in the shingle, after a mad dash across a mine field covered by two machine gun nests I found myself leaning against the base of the concrete fortifications with just 10 health. The mad Captain ordered me to get across the rest of the mine field in order to reach some trenches. I died, I tried again and I died. I gave up.
This is the Omaha beach level from Medal of Honour: Allied Assault. Perhaps the finest, most realistic gaming moment there is, and certainly the best landing assault level there is, much better than Stalingrad in Call of Duty. This pretty much is the opening of Saving Private Ryan in video game form, which should come as no surprise as the director of that amazing war film, Steven Spielberg was involved in the creation of Allied Assault.
This one level is the defining moment of the whole game, it is telling that you receive an in-game medal just for completing the mission; you don’t have to do any other special tasks, simply just survive what seems to be the unsurvivable.
When I first played Allied Assault I romped my way through the opening two missions of the game, it was only when I got to Omaha that I found my match. It is a totally uncompromising level, that medic I mentioned earlier will only heal you once, there is no respite from the constant noise of artillery shells landing and bullets pining off the obstacle you are hiding behind. It is one of, if not the most intense level of any game. The corresponding console version of the game, Frontline also features a level on Omaha, that was the first version I played and I found it pretty easy. For that simple reason I was shocked by the challenge posted in Allied Assault, I was not ready for the levels of grit and determination needed to complete the opening sequence of the beach landing.
I think it is a shame that when any game features a similar styled beach landing or ground assault that the Stalingrad level from Call of Duty is always the level of comparison. Yes, that is awe inspiring in its own right, but it is no Omaha. The Hell of Omaha.