Medal of Honor: Warfighter
The yearly war of the annualised shooters has descended on the gaming population yet again. With the Battlefield franchise taking an extended break, the ‘other’ Electronic Arts shooterMedal of Honor is left to wage war on the titanic Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. With the same developer from the previous modern revamp of Medal of Honor Danger Close at the helm for both single and multiplayer duties, direct sequel Warfighter claims its ‘authentic’ values are the maker of a unique shooter experience. However, with a lifeless campaign and simply adequate multiplayer, Medal of Honor: Warfighter is a simply another run-of-the-mill game box with a gun-wielding soldier plastered on the cover.
Warfighter hopes to convey what it means to be a real elite solider grounded in the contemporary world. The source material displays promise, but the execution is a missed opportunity. The developers unashamedly pine to the cinematic style of Call of Duty. A level of the beginning of the game even has you shooting target silhouettes against a countdown timer, a-la-Modern Warfare. All too often we witness a grand set-piece, car-chase or shootout, but it all feels contrived and unnecessary. The plot jumps between locations and characters at a breakneck speed, giving us little time to identify with anything that’s happened. From what I can gather, there might be a story about family and sacrifice in Warfighter, but it’s buried beneath too many slow-motion door breaches, dudebro back-slaps and narrative clichés the perpetuate most games of this type.
A blink-and-you’ll miss it campaign transports players to some gritty and contemporary locations, but gameplay rarely diverges from the traditional shooter playbook – battle from point A to B and shoot everything in between. Further, Warfighter does little to conceal its linear pathfinding and rarely portrays a tense or exciting scenario. I would probably summarise the single-player as a robotic experience. There’s an explosion or two thrown in for good measure, but the whole experience is nothing but a mindless exercise in shooting enemies, reloading and ducking behind cover. Indeed, the only elements left to the player are shooting and movement, but even the latter is handled entirely by the game in great chunks.
Linearity can be forgiven if the game keeps it hidden or manages to keep the player engaged, but Warfighter fails to accomplish either. The developers take too much of the action out of your hands, widening the disconnect between narrative and gameplay. The entire game runs to a very tight script with a abysmal degree of subtlety. Forget about a game that keeps pace with the player, Warighter rather has you following the lead of an omnipresent director. A door cannot be opened until your team falls into place, artillery strikes all too conveniently, and ‘oh look’ says your teammate, ‘there’s a enemy perched in the tower so lets use this conveniently placed sniper rifle to shoot him’.
The only serviceable elements of the campaign are the visuals and shooting mechanics. Guns possess a good weight and convey a sense of satisfaction when pulling the trigger. As you would expect from the Frostbite engine, the presentation is fantastic, with impressive effects and attention to detail. Unfortunately, Warfighter‘s overt direction removes any sense of immersion, again reminding that you are simply an actor an a tightly choreographed dance of bullets and explosions.
A poor three-hour campaign can’t justify Warfighter, but the adequate multiplayer offers a little more enticement. However, in a sea of better products, it is at most a temporary distraction. The biggest callout on the multiplayer side is a buddy fire team system. Two players are paired together and working as a duo is key to a combined success (or failure). Players can spawn off their buddy, and sticking together is great for snaring revenge kills and netting experience points. A conjoined team of two players may not be anything new, but the concept offers something a little different and it keeps you in the game for longer.
Multiplayer design is average and gameplay is exactly what you would expect, but is nevertheless entertaining for the duration. There are five different modes on offer, butWarfighter doesn’t offer anything too unique from the multiplayer shooter norm. Capture the Flag is probably the most satisfying, where working with your fireteam teammate is key. Playing a ‘home run’ game prevents respawns, resulting in some of the most intense matches. Teams are forced into adapting a cautious approach, or face being until sidelined the next game begins.
As with most multiplayer shooters, players access a class system where they can personalise their weapons. You start out with basic weaponry, but levelling up and earning medals grants access to various gun customisations. Interestingly, you can eventually access classes linked to a specific country, each possessing a unique ability. Players may find it entertaining running around in the guise of particular nation’s special forces, while kill streaks bonuses can also offer offensive and defensive tactical backup.
Medal of Honor takes the concept of a cinematic experience too far in a nonsensical campaign that is too heavy on scripting and far too light on player involvement. Shooter fans might appreciate the impressive visuals and satisfying gunplay, but there is little else here to enjoy. Multiplayer provides a fun distraction with some fresh ideas, but there are ultimately more polished shooters on the market with larger communities. Combined with a very buggy experience that makes playing without a day one patch almost impossible, Medal of Honor Warfighter is battling for any medium of victory.