Medal of Honor: Warfighter Review
Do not enlist in this war.
It seems only fitting that Medal of Honor: Warfighter’s opening scene begins with the player having to perform a double-take. A bearded soldier emerges from the water wearing a boonie hat and a stern expression firmly plastered across his face. No… It can’t be? Captain Price, is that you?!
It turns out, of course, that this drenched double of the ballsy Brit isn’t the famous fictitious soldier who biennially answers the call of duty. This is Preacher, one of two generic individuals who you’ll have the displeasure of accompanying through a cliched, overworked and totally unoriginal excuse of a first-person shooter. Put away the medals, because Medal of Honor: Warfighter deserves none.
Call of Duty this is not, but that doesn’t stop developer Danger Close from shamefully grasping every opportunity to copy the formulae of Activision’s acclaimed FPS. From the timed training tutorial to the slow-motion entry breaches, Warfighter is, at times, utterly dishonorable in its obvious ode to COD. However, this distasteful practice is confounded by the fact Warfighter continually fails to match – let alone improve upon – the fundamentals laid down by its unmistakable muse.
East Is East
Medal of Honor: Warfighter puts you in the boots of Tier 1 operatives as you jet across specific areas of the globe which are undoubtedly evil in the eyes of the Western world: the Middle East, Asia and Eastern Europe.
The story is threadbare, incoherent and pitiful in its lack of imagination and execution. You’re on the hunt for a terrorist leader known as The Cleric, who, if he isn’t stopped, will blow up planet Earth. Well, not the planet, but definitely something. And that’s bad news. So, naturally, it’s up to the peacekeepers of the world to fight fire with fire, kill everything in their way and save planet Earth from the tyranny of an angry muslim madman; one “hooah!” at a time.
The game’s narrative does little to help matters; it’s self-absorbed, sporadic and devoid of any evocative moments.
Although Medal of Honor: Warfighter’s missions are loosely inspired by actual events, the overriding plot is a prejudicial, loathsome depiction of the Middle East and surrounding countries that we’ve sadly come to expect ever since the tragedy of 9/11. Yes, we understand that terrorists are the epitome of evil – that’s not up for debate. But all too often Warfighter’s M.O (that means main objective, if you’re not down with the lingo) comes across as nothing more than a sick recruitment drive to lure angry, flag-waving young American males into joining the ‘good fight’: killing RPG wielding muslims to the backdrop of ‘Born in the USA’.
This general perception of xenophobia is swiftly reinforced when one member of your squad says: “I ain’t going home until we’ve killed something!” It’s an unpalatable depiction of the armed forces and a frightening misuse of seemingly credible individuals’ stories and real-life experiences. Heaven forbid if this is an actual, accurate representation of the armed forces.
The game’s narrative does little to help matters; it’s self-absorbed, sporadic and devoid of any evocative moments. You’ll be forced to sit through a verbal barrage of war jargon and military terms that strictly belong on the pages of an Andy McNab novel and will likely be meaningless to anyone who hasn’t taken up arms for their country.
Throw in a strange looking child, an angry mother/wife, and a soldier who just ‘wants out’, and that’s the closest Warfighter gets to any sort of emotional connection. It’s as pathetic as it sounds.
Roll The Dice
Medal of Honor: Warfighter is the latest EA game to capitalise on Dice’s fabulous Frostbite 2 engine. Therefore, somewhat unsurprisingly, Warfighter has a number of impressive visual effects and a generally pleasing graphical style throughout. There’s destructible scenery and plenty of incidental effects which give the game an added sparkle. But all of this glitz and graphical splendour is hindered by the shackles of being locked down to a sluggish 30fps and tarred by the occurrence of numerous glitches and persistent errors – even after you’ve downloaded and installed the crucial 230mb, day-one patch. The end result is a game that feels as though you’re constantly running through water and one which bears more than a few evident scars that comes with being developed to a strict deadline without any real care and attention.
Checkpoints are poorly placed, forcing you to repeat chunks of shooting monotony which you’ve already had to previously stomach. There’s frustrating load-times to sit through every time you die and your HUD will rudely appear at the end and beginning of each forgettable cutscene for no apparent reason. There’s also plenty of texture pop-in, clueless AI to contend with and, to top it off, uninspiring gameplay and bland missions holding it all together.
Hit The Breach
One particularly laughable mission literally consists of a cutscene, firing one bullet at an unmoving target which then triggers another cutscene. And that’s it.
Warfighter is the very definition of a linear, corridor shooter. Your sole aim is to drive forward at all times, breaching through door after door, ducking behind some cover once the red mist ensues and popping back out when your health has regenerated. There’s very little in the way of any variation apart from persistent slow-motion set-pieces, which continually fail to spark any sense of excitement or create any real drama. There’s no interaction with your team mates (except for when you have to hold Square for some ammo) or any objectives to break-up the relentless march towards the end of each mission.
When the game does dare to deviate from the tedium above, it still manages to get things wrong. One particularly laughable mission literally consists of a cutscene, firing one bullet at an unmoving target which then triggers another cutscene. And that’s it. Riveting stuff, I’m sure you’ll agree. There’s also the obligatory blueprint missions that make up every FPS, such as the on-rails turret sections (who doesn’t love these!), car chases and sniping missions. Remarkably, the mission which involves you chasing down a dastardly, devious terrorist through the streets in a jeep, actually represents one of the most enjoyable moments in the game, which kind of says it all really.
Sadly, its a case of been there, done that; and familiarity definitely breeds contempt on this occasion. Perhaps mercifully, the campaign will only take you around five hours to complete.
But what would any modern FPS be if it didn’t have a multiplayer mode on hand? A multiplayer component that is often more enticing than the entire single-player campaign put together. Well don’t worry freedom fighters, because Medal of Honor: Warfighter manages to tick yet another box on the go-to checklist of how to create a first-person shooter, with online play almost making the campaign an acceptable afterthought. However, the mediocrity that encompasses the entire experience still can’t be escaped online, but it’s definitely the most entertaining part of this uniform package, albeit, more of what we’ve already played – again.
Medal of Honor: Warfighter includes a class system, your run-of-the-mill experience metagame and plenty of unlockables and tweaks to tempt you back to the fray. Again, there’s not much new here apart from the fact you can play as different real-life factions from across the globe; however, if you’re one of those individuals who is firmly focused on dominating others online, Warfighter will be yet another game that can deliver on this popular promise. But please note: there are far superior offerings for you to enjoy than this.
As with the majority of video games, once a game’s core mechanics are freed from the rigidity of facing off against computer opponents, certain overlooked techniques can suddenly become rather useful. Warfighter’s lean mechanic and cover system, for example, can finally be put to good use online, as it arguably feels redundant during the single-player campaign. The ability to lean out from the nearest corner, or pop-up from behind a wall and fire out a few shots is one of the few doses of realism and authenticity that the game actually manages to get right.
Online play also features a buddy system called Fire Team. You’ll be paired with another team member who will act as your spawn point, protector and potential score multiplier: If you hang tight to your strange, new online acquaintance, each player will benefit from various bonuses and extra exp if you perform some headshots while you’re in close proximity. It’s nice to not feel alone in such a competitive environment, though the idea of a buddy system is hardly a novel one.
Of course, there’s a plethora of recognisable modes to choose from but online play also succumbs to numerous glitches and bugs to contend with. It’s more than likely that these troublesome niggles will be squashed over time, but if it wasn’t patently obvious by now, Medal of Honor: Warfighter isn’t the most polished of titles. In fact, it just isn’t very good at all.
Prefer moving pictures and sound? Then check out our video review here.
A review copy of Medal of Honor: Warfighter was provided courtesy of EA. The game was reviewed on PlayStation 3.
War Hasn’t Changed
Medal of Honor: Warfighter is so infatuated with imitating its peers, cashing in on an opportunity to make a quick buck and devoid of all sense of individuality that you’ll need more than a discarded dog tag to determine this game’s true identity. Generic and banal, Warfighter is another misfire for the Medal of Honor series and a slap in the face to the real-life war heroes who keep millions safe around the world.