Game Review: Medal of Honour: Warfighter
Pros:Tight and refined gameplay; Fire Team multiplayer makes for some exciting moments; fun driving sequences; score by Ramin Djawadi.
Cons:Short, linear campaign; frequent visual hiccups and bugs; lifeless characters and derivative plot.
While not a terrible shooter by any means, Medal of Honour: Warfighter struggles to justify its existence in an already crowded market.
It’s hard to deny that the video game industry is an industry of trends. Today, the modern military shooter has become the go-to genre for developers looking to cash in and hopefully follow in the footsteps of Call of Duty. Medal of Honour: Warfighter is the latest instalment in the long-running FPS series developed by Danger Close and promises an experience with a difference: a grounded, personal and unflinching look at life on the battlefield and the effects it has on the brave soldiers who fight this war. Does the game deliver on its pitch or is it all smoke and mirrors?
Set in the modern day and in real locations, Warfighter‘s single-player campaign puts you in the shoes of a number of soldiers around the world as you take the fight to a global network of terrorists. You primarily play as Preacher, a burned-out black-ops specialist who is torn between his sense of duty towards his country and his efforts to maintain his family life. While the bulk of the five-to-six-hour campaign will see you undertaking operations in the likes of Somalia, Pakistan, Dubai and the Philippines, the game will intermittently switch to FMV sequences which tell the humanised story of Preacher. These elements are the backbone of the Warfighter story and although the tale itself is derivative and lifeless, it’s easy to understand what the developers were trying to achieve.
The action is straightforward and in line with what you would expect from a military shooter. You progress through a number of objective-based, linear levels. You will aim down sights, take cover, breach rooms in slow-mo, snipe targets, mark targets for artillery etc. If all of these gameplay mechanics sound familiar, that’s because they are; they’re so familiar, in fact, that it can be easy to autopilot your way through, hugging to cover and patiently waiting to headshot the next guy you see. With the exception of a few heavily-scripted set-piece moments and some driving sequences, the game feels like one stale hallway crawl after another. You never move any direction but forward and the action never feels as compelling as it should. All of the staples of a modern action campaign are here but the end result is an experience that is both short-lived and forgettable.
For most players the draw of Warfighter will be its online component, which offers many of the features you would hope to find in a military shooter. For the most part, you will work as part of a fire team (two people) and battle it out in a number of maps across of a variety of deathmatch and objective-based game modes. The game also boasts a robust upgrade system for weapons; you can customize load-outs for different class types and if you put the time into the game, building your perfect arsenal has never been easier. The action is refined but is neither as fluid as Call of Duty nor as grand as Battlefield 3. The maps are well designed but don’t have the size or scale to allow for as tactical an experience as seasoned players might like.
Running on EA’s Frostbite 2 engine, Warfighter has some fleeting moments of beauty. It’s a shame that most of the time players will be surrounded by barren, lifeless environments, awash with brown colours, grey skies and by-the-numbers level design. I also encountered a number of hiccups such as colour saturation, screen tearing, enemies floating through the air and a game-ending bug on the last level which corrupted my save file and forced me to start from scratch.
With the highly polished alternatives of Battlefield 3 and annual iterations of Call of Duty, it’s hard to see where Medal of Honour: Warfighter fits into the picture. The game tries to sell itself as a shooter for our times but amidst the contrived storyline, in-your-face patriotism and excessive military vernacular, the message has gotten lost along the way. While not a terrible shooter by any means, Warfighter struggles to justify its existence in an already crowded market.