2010 saw the return of the FPS classic Medal Of Honor that changed war shooters for good. The problem was, it wasn’t sure what it was trying to be. On one hand it was trying to be a challenging shooter, throwing relentless enemies at you forcing you to think quick. On the other, it was trying to be an emotional journey that failed because you couldn’t make a connection with it’s characters. Medal Of Honor Warfighter is a better game but it still carries the problems of it’s predecessor alongside it.
Developer Danger Close has done a very good job of respecting the Tier 1 operator and that’s evident in the game. The characters aren’t bro shooter morons who give yelping shouts of “woo” and “hell yeah”. They’re soldiers sent to do a mission and be professional. This is how they come off. However it seems that Danger Close has spent too much time trying to create a professional soldier and has instead lost sight of creating a person to go along with that. We’re given control of Preacher, the soldier and family man who is in the cliche spiral of a dissolving marriage. I couldn’t care less about the characters personal life because it was something just a little too familiar. The wife who has just about had enough, the daughter he never see’s but loves him unconditionally. It’s boring and something we’ve seen 1000 times over. That said, it was pleasing to see the familiar faces of characters from the last game who I thought I didn’t care about, but seeing Dusty from the last game enter the fold and Rabbit from the first game referenced did evoke a sense welcoming. Many people don’t have a connection to these characters and I understand why, but for some strange reason, I did.
The story itself is convoluted and disjointed. You can piece together the story quite easily when you stop to think about it, but it boils down to “the bad guy has a bomb. Oh wait, wrong guy, it must be the other bad guy on the other side of the world who we somehow have loads of intel on and holds a cliche ‘kill the West’ attitude”. The poor story merely just sets the stage for Danger Close to include as many real world military encounters as they can for missions regardless of whether they actually make sense or not. One second I’m in Yemen, the next I’m in the Philippines tracking down terrorists that I know nothing about because the sole motivation for us hunting him down is that he’s “a terrorist”. There’s no explanation as to why these guys want to kill me, they just do. Whilst these missions may be based on real events, I have to wonder just how many men two guys managed to mow down in droves in real life.
I would be lying if I said that I didn’t have fun actually playing the game. Warfighter looks spectacular and in some cases, more visually appealing than Battlefield 3. Especially on a PS3. The shooting felt great, the battlefield looked wonderfu with grenades ripping up dirt, the surroundings smashing to pieces as bullets tear them apart, the sound of a bullet firmly placing itself between the eyes of the stereotypical Middle Eastern bad guy, beautiful. The campaign does absolutely nothing new but then again, very little shooters that fall into the corridor shooter genre have done a lot themselves. In the post- Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare world, few corridor FPS’s have something that can make the average joe say “Yeah, that’s Medal Of Honor. I can tell by the way it plays”. Whilst this will no doubt be a problem for most, it wasn’t for me. I quite enjoyed just switching off my brain and shooting guys who look the same. The story seldom intrudes on the campaign with crucial parts of the story being left to the cutscenes in between levels. It’s very easy just to sit down with Warfighter and use it as colourful target practise.
As fun as the campaign can be with shooting shouting men with beards in sandals, it suffers from annoying AI who, if they’re friendly, will jump in the way of your line of fire only to scold you for shooting them despite bullets passing through them as if they were never there. Enemy AI will remain in cover for ages to a point where you will eventually get bored of waiting for them to break cover or start shooting and just run up to cover to blow them away. They’ll also just run at you like men possessed or as if you’re some long distant relative they just want to run up to and hug. With an AK47 to the face. You could argue that this mixes up combat, but when your allies ignore him thus forcing you to be the sole instrument in killing him, you have your doubts.
Warfighter suffers from some stupid glitches like sound drops and character model freezes. Whilst I can’t say I had many of these problems myself, nearly everyone else who has played the game has raised the issue. It’s worrying to see such a big budget game suffer from problems that would plague a smaller game less. One thing I did notice was that many of the player animations such as moving forward and backwards whilst prone are directly from Battlefield 3.
Like every shooter and its Grandmother, Medal Of Honor Warfighter has multiplayer, and it’s mediocre at best. It has some interesting differences from some other games, like the ability to respawn having been revoked after being killed in capture the flag. However, these features are done better by other games, especially Battlefield 3. The map design is a constant problem in Warfighter. Your objectives are clearly marked but trying to navigate your way through the map would be easier if you were sprinting whilst staring down at the floor. Too many times did I run down a causeway only to discover that it was in fact a dead end and had no purpose. To add further annoyances, the HUD during multiplayer gameplay is just littered with crap on the screen. There’s just too much information that distracts you from the task at hand.
Whilst I did have fun with some parts Medal Of Honor, it’s very hard to recommend. The poor story, poor character relationships with some of the other characters, AI stupidity and the weak multiplayer make Medal Of Honor Warfighter a very difficult game to pick up after you’re done with it. Chances are you won’t care about the characters in the slightest. The only reason why I cared is that I had some recollection of the first game but I haven’t played it since it came out two years ago. It’s hard to say that Danger Close came close to making a good game because it has so many problems. It is a better game than the one before it, but not by a lot.
George Sinclair is an editor for Analog Addiction, the home of the latest news, reviews and previews. You can find George on Twitter and his blog on IGN. Be sure to follow the OFFICIALAnalog Addiction Twitter as well!