This preview was contributed by Jeremy Jastrzab, freelance journalist.
Long before Battlefield and Call of Duty, there was another title that ruled the military roost of first person shooters - Medal of Honor. Famous for being among the first video game titles to portray the famous scenes such as the assault on Omaha Beach, the stocks of the World War II concentrated Medal of Honor significantly fell across the years, until 2007 when it disappeared off the radar. Obviously looking to feed off the success of modernising Call of Duty and Battlefield, 2010 saw the resurrection Medal of Honor in the more modern setting of Afghanistan in 2002.
It may not have hit the heights of critical response, and it may not be talked about much today, but with a franchise as venerable as this one, it was clearly worth another shot. And since Battlefield 4 is still a while away, EA clearly wanted something else to try and go up against Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. A direct sequel, Medal of Honor Warfighter, is in the works and due for an October release. Recently, Rocket Chainsaw had the chance to get some hands on time with the upcoming multiplayer.
A little about the game first though; you’ll reprise the roles of characters from the previous game, where you’ll take part in missions with ‘Tier One Operators’ – a class of Special Mission Units – who are supposedly working outside of the usual parameters of war. Further to this, the story is written by real Tier One members and based on real life stories, while taking place in real world locations including Somalia and the Philippines. The game will feature Special Units from 10 different countries , under the guise of prompting international co-operation in the game. These countries include: Australia, Canada, Germany, Norwary, Poland, Russia, South Korea, Sweden, UK and USA.
Prior to playing, the audience was treated to a viewing of the latest trailer, which showed off some of the game’s multiplayer specific content. This primarily reiterated the international and real world locations aspect, but also touched upon the weapons and toys that will be at your disposal. Upon loading multiplayer, an issue that was noticed and will hopefully be rectified before the final release will be the substantial sprucing of menu options. After all, (arguably) not every shooter is built equally, and it would have been nice to view the controls…
For this session, there were 6 different classes available, each moulded on a gaming staple (sniper, soldier, scout, etc…) and attached to a particular international unit. Taking control of a Polish GROM in a capture-the-flag/king-of-the-hill styled match type, being seated in the weaker team was something of a disadvantage. It was distinctly obvious that the opposition, who had been working much better as a team, were having much more success. Supposedly, some of the game’s perks were only available with the explicit use of team work. If getting slaughtered by the opposition wasn’t incentive enough to work as a team, this should have an effect of the dynamic of play. Furthermore, with points successfully captured, this enabled you to respawn close to allies, and often the action.
Players who were around at the genesis of the Medal of Honor and Call of Duty franchises may remember as the former being more for the plebs, while the latter represented the AAA product. Now that Call of Duty has pandered to the masses, the overall feel of Medal of Honor was that of a much more intense and claustrophobic shooter. It really felt like you were in the action a lot of the time, and with everything that’s happening around you, there was a palpable sense of intensity permeating through each of the matches. Or that could have just been the quality of the opposition. But even they weren’t immune to some of the well placed GROM grenade shots.
On the flipside, the focus that Medal of Honor Warfighter has on the international and ‘real world’ aspect may also prove to be its Achilles heel. What this reboot or reimagining of the series lacks so far is the identity of its predecessor. And while it still has a chance to fix that, something that permeated throughout the presentation and the play through was that the game really struggled to form its own identity. It wasn’t the Medal of Honor that was known, but then it wasn’t an entity purely recognisable on its own. As enjoyable as it was, affinity is also a powerful emotion for gamers.
Something that didn’t help with the lack of identity was the development team’s use of the latest version of the Frostbite 2 engine. OK, so while it didn’t help with the identity, it did a tonne for making the game look good. There are whole heap of details that could be divulged on the individual effects, performance and overall visual fidelity, but given the development stage, there is still an element of it being even further enhanced. Technically, everything held up well and in the couple of matches played, there weren’t any major hitches noticed. In a quaint note, each nationality
Medal of Honor Warfighter looks good and plays well in multiplayer. And the new focus on real world events surrounding different sets of Special Missions Units from all around the world actually does give the game something new to work with. However, the major challenge for the title is whether it will do enough to stand out from the crowd. Or indeed, manage to forge a new identity for itself, given its iconic beginnings.