Current generation gamers may associate military FPS games under the branding of the Call of Duty and Battlefield series exclusively. When a new title comes along that branches out in the genre, it may almost be seen as the new kid in school; many are intrigued, curious and will use first impressions to decide if it will ‘fit in’ to their gaming collection. As a gamer, it is important to remember that a title generally holds its own, and it is in no way clever to compare apples to oranges, or in this case – a pineapple. Medal of Honor Warfighter (MoHW) has finally enrolled with plenty of sweet and sticky juice on the inside.
Upon booting the disc, the familiar score chimed through and almost brought a tear to my eye as some memories flooded back. Those who played the previous Medal of Honor (MoH) from 2010 should find themselves right at home again in Warfighter. Previously, the game was mostly based in Afghanistan and surrounding locations, this time Warfighter goes global and is told in a non-linear sequence around two protagonists; Preacher (previously an NPC from MoH) and a new character, Stump. Missions are based in locations varying from the Arabian Sea to Sarajevo and the Philippines. Ideally, it is the hunt on global terrorism focusing on weapons of biological warfare after a series of bombings, and also intervening to rescue hostages. A standout mission that takes place follows the US Navy Seals when they rescue a captain of a boat held captive by Somali pirates – which I remember being a big deal in the media when that occurred a couple of years ago.
In Warfighter, the missions are not only based with a gun in your hand. You will be required to take control of land and sea vehicles, and your main objectives can at times be interrupted with a fire fight ambush that appears out of nowhere.
After completing the first sub-mission in the game, I knew that Danger Close had successfully created another military FPS with a narrative close to home, and tells their stories in the most dignified and respectful of ways. I believe this has been taken for granted in the previous release of MoH, and sadly, I feel that many gamers may actually miss the point. This isn’t Hollywood, this isn’t a writer with a great imagination; this is where real-life events of Tier 1 operatives are told for us to experience while sitting back at home. I do not envy these people; but I certainly do respect the work that they do. Warfighter gives the soldiers a human side in a video game. As with its predecessor, it felt like I got to know these men on a human level, and in Warfighter it was just like catching up with old friends again.
Warfighter touches on the interpersonal relationships of the soldiers at hand for friends and family of a Tier 1 operative. I felt a sense of authenticity during the game, and rarely was I ever thinking to myself “as if that would ever happen”. If anything, Warfighter tells the wonderful story of current events that should never be forgotten, nor taken for granted. Perhaps we just get used to the fast pace of videogames, that when a title comes out that requires pacing, good timing and listening out for objectives, Warfighter for some may feel dull.
In all honesty, there is a lot of excitement in armed combat, but on a realistic level it wouldn’t be a constant (especially in covert ops). I like to think of the MoH titles as an education and an experience, rather than being just another run and gun title. Don’t forget, Tier 1 operatives sat down with the developers to tell their stories to make these games.
As much as I would love to have given Warfighter a perfect score, there were some parts in the gameplay that I felt lacking in the overall finished product. A few buggy features I found along the way included:
- Squad AI could push you out of cover/position if they walk into you
- Sometimes the next sequence of the mission would not trigger, and I needed to walk ahead of my squad to pursue the next objective – this could prove to be difficult if a swarm of enemies suddenly runs out in front of you.
- The Xbox 360 version is on two separate discs, and they are not labelled with the content. For those yet to find out, disc one is Multiplayer and disc two is Campaign.
- Warfighter is using the Frostbite 2 engine, and I had more expectations of building and cover destructions with this being utilised – however, it wasn’t too much of a big deal.
- Sensitivity does not reduce while scoped, which makes it a little bit difficult to stay on target and takes some getting used to.
- Certain game objectives weren’t clearly explained or marked, which at times could be vague in direction, hence why active listening was so important.
- Sometimes the complete opposite would occur, where voice prompts would advise an area was clear when clearly it was not as you’re still engaged in combat. Take note: this also occurs during the mission in Dubai so it is really important to pay close attention to your HUD.
- At times, the enemy AI was able to walk past squad mates and be able to appear close enough to me to nearly take me out after one melee hit.
These were the main issues I encountered, but I did not experience any freezing or glitches along the way.
So getting to the good bits, there is a lot to admire in the gameplay dynamics Warfighter has to offer.
- Peak & Lean that was introduced in MoH has returned, and an excellent habit to get into – particularly later in the game. Also receiving ammunition from your teammates by asking has also returned in Warfighter.
- Some missions were shorter than others were. I guess I am at that point in my life where I appreciate games that do this, because you can tell a story without dragging it out, and still get the intended experience.
- The intensity. Some parts in the missions will require a lot of patience, whether there are numerous checkpoints to be restarted, or the number of objectives that may take time to progress successfully.
- Cut scenes between missions were interesting and provided a real human perspective, rather than previously it was command behind the scenes from MoH.
- Checkpoints were extremely forgiving a lot of the time. I found that when I had failed certain checkpoints, I did not need to resume 5-10 minutes prior to where I was. This reduced a lot of frustration I have previously felt in games where the situation gets a bit sticky.
- Enemy AI will also target squad AI as well as you when you are shooting. It is also impossible for any member of your squad to die during a fire fight – this makes things a little easier, and sometimes I stood behind them for extra cover.
- Environmentally it can get dark and visibility can become a challenge. Enemies can see you when you can’t see them, smoke and sandstorms are featured where visibility reduces to virtually nothing in front of you and yet you still need to make it through somehow.
- If you kill an enemy while they are firing their weapon, they may still be holding the trigger resulting in them still firing at you as they drop. They may also run out of the way when you engage combat, making it trickier to get a good shot on them if they have also fallen back into cover.
For the purpose of this review, I played on normal difficulty. Sometimes the timing of everything can make all the difference, but that is not to say rushing is the best option. Things to be mindful of while playing the campaign include: AI unreliability (as mentioned above), when your gun overheats there is an amount of time required for cool down, reloading weapons takes several seconds, there will be a requirement for defensive driving on at least two occasions, and also keeping in mind bullet drop when long-distance sniping. Also depending on the weapons that the enemy carry may result in how much damage you can take and how much you can give them – steer clear when RPG’s and snipers are called out by your squad, and always find cover wherever possible.
You can drop the difficulty at any time, but if you are finding the game too easy and want to increase the difficulty, this will result in the entire level starting from the beginning. Completing the game in hard will also unlock hardcore and tier 1 mode.
The campaign contained many surprises, could be uncomfortable and had some jaw-dropping moments. Some elements have already been seen in similar games over time, but I think the difference here relies on the fact it is based on real-life events, so keep that mind before you find yourself saying, “this has been done in a video game before, and this is not original”.
The sound is crisp, from the ping of a shell casing hitting the ground after firing your weapon, to the thud of your shoes while you walk. I have played with both a home cinema stereo and 7.1 surround headphones, and on both occasions found the sound to be clear and part of the action. I always prefer to play with headphones for noise cancellation but if that’s not an option, it isn’t so disappointing. In-game music is appropriate when played during cut scenes and when it gradually gets louder during a fire fight, emphasising on the combat that is occurring. One thing I have found that sets Warfighter apart from other titles is the realistic punch of weapon fire. It shows a remarkable attention to detail and is a great part of bringing the world of Medal of Honor right up to the player. In dialogue, there is less whispering that occurs compared to the 2010 release. Nevertheless, the dialogue has been scripted and voiced extremely well.
This time the multiplayer development was kept in-house at Danger Close (where previously MoH MP was done by DICE) and I must tip my hat to their effort. Gameplay feels smooth, and some nice features include:
- Spawn timer. If you plan to spawn on your buddy, there will be a timer and also time added if they are either engaged in combat or enemy threat is close by. There is nothing worse than spawning on a teammate only to be shot within seconds of appearing.
- Fall back spawn locations can vary depending on maps, reducing the risk of spawn camping.
- The voices of the diverse soldiers sound genuine. The Australian SAS soldier has an authentic Australian accent, and may say things like “I’m here, mate” – I thought this was rather cute, however if I heard it shout ‘Crikey!’ when a grenade appeared, then I wouldn’t be interested any further. Thank you, Danger Close, for keeping stereotypical clichés to a bare minimum.
- Warfighter is also incorporated in the Battlelog system already utilised in Battlefield 3. You can represent your country online, and completing matches rewards a token to be redeemed on Battlelog. More information is here.
There is not a whole lot to mention in MP that has not already been seen in games before. That is not to say it isn’t worth the time to play because it is great fun when paired up with a friend. It has a feel similar to Ghost Recon Future Soldier and M.A.G. Support actions that unlock via killstreaks apply again, and weapons are limited by class. At the time of writing this review, there have been some reported problems with team VoIP, but this is being investigated and any questions should be referred to @medalofhonor on Twitter and/or directly on Medal of Honor website following instructions to contact them.
It’s all too easy to compare one military FPS with another and expect the same result; Warfighter has something unique and mature to offer. It feels and plays differently to other popular titles, hence why we have apples, oranges and pineapples. As with its predecessor, Warfighter will be a title held very close to my heart. It is not often that a FPS title manages to keep up with the action while beautifully telling a story of servicemen without the Hollywood cheese. Before Danger Close made their creations, tales of Warfighters only were seen and heard through news media, films and books. In this, we experience a simulation that upholds dignity and respect for the soldier at its core. It is not about political agenda; it just follows what happens, thus putting the player in the thick of it all. The small instances of bugs aside, I really loved playing Medal of Honor Warfighter.
Special thanks to EA for supplying Drop Bear Gaming with a review copy.