Medal Of Honor: Warfighter Review
Pro tip: if you need to include an objective to “exact revenge”, then you’ve done your game wrong.
We’re not asking that videogames suddenly learn the art of emotional manipulation – lord knows that’s not going to happen anytime soon – but if developers are going to go through the motions of creating a ‘powerful’ and ‘meaningful’ storyline, then at least give it some heart.
This is the biggest criticism of Medal Of Honor: Warfighter, which is admittedly a little moot: asking a first-person shooter to provide mature emotion is like asking cake to stop being delicious.
But, for all its flaws, 2010’s Medal Of Honor reboot did have a modicum of respect to it. Sure, the characters were almost entirely gruff soldiers belching ‘Oscar Mike’ and ‘Roger that’ at every turn, but then what’s to say soldiers aren’t like that.
At least it felt like a soldier’s story.
Medal Of Honor: Warfighter is little more than yet another in a long line of shooters trying to ape Call Of Duty – and let’s face it, COD’s single-player is hardly that compelling in the first place.
Take the opening section, for example. It starts well, promising even. But after a bomb is placed and subsequently detonated, all hell breaks loose and you’re simply moving from explosion to explosion until you defeat an enemy helicopter. With a rocket launcher.
Gameplay and our dulcet voices telling you what is good – and what isn’t – about Medal Of Honor: Warfighter.
Even Michael Bay isn’t this ridiculous, and while Danger Close has tried to make the introduction to Medal Of Honor: Warfighter as exciting as it can be, the only response is a slow and sombre headshake.
After that it tones itself down a bit, moving from mission to mission with disparate connections and flitting between characters. It’s a little hard to keep up with Medal Of Honor: Warfighter’s story, truth be told, and while it is all explained in high quality cut scenes, none of it really matters.
Basically, it does what Call Of Duty does. There doesn’t need to be a reason to set a mission during a monsoon in the Philippines beyond the fact that the developer wanted to. Why Dubai? Why Pakistan? Why Poland? Ask Danger Close.
So yes, you will spend most of your time following a man to an obscure objective, breaching doors, aiming down sights and generally kicking ass and taking names. Sounds alright for a first-person shooter, right?
Well, yes, actually it is. The solid gunplay of the last Medal Of Honor – and there’s probably a hint of Battlefield 3 here as well – has carried over and this part is just as enjoyable as ever.
The Frostbite 2 engine is put to good use, though as with Battlefield 3 the real show is on PC.
It’s the enemy AI that’ll really throws it off kilter, however. For the most part they’ll just sit in cover, waiting for you to shoot them in the head. Every so often, though, they will have the common sense to run to open ground and point their gun at you in a mildly threatening way.
The times they will catch you off guard are from behind, however. You’ll advance through a debris-strewn room only to find one pesky little sod blast you full of bullets when you’re not looking.
We could be generous and compliment the AI here, perhaps claim that it was smart enough to lie in wait and get the jump on us when our guard was down but when the rest of the enemies possess as much intelligence as your average coffee table that would be a little hard to believe.
Elsewhere there are tweaks to the game over the last one. The new breach mechanic, for example, enables you with unlocks as you score headshots during the slow-motion assaults, letting you pick and choose the way you want to tackle each breach.
Which would be fine, if it wasn’t just a glorified animation selector. The difference between choosing to kick the door in or use a shotgun is simply whether you choose to shoot the door handle before booting it in.
Cut scenes that highlight the more personal side of Preacher’s story unfortunately fail to achieve their goal.
It could’ve been a fantastic mechanic, resembling the SOCOM strategies of old: flashbang, explosive grenade, quietly pushing the door open or simply finding an alternative route into the building. As it stands, it’s entirely throwaway.
Elsewhere there’s a new system of aiming. By holding L2 (or left bumper on Xbox 360) you’ll enable a free aim of sorts. It locks you in position, letting you slightly alter your aim along the x axis: it’s brilliant for picking off targets without getting hit, and a must if you’re playing on harder difficulties.
It’s not all bad, then. Some sections of the game are genuinely entertaining, and mix up the usual man-following more than most FPS games try to. As is typical of most games of this ilk, however, these good ideas are overused.
There are only two bot sections, for example, but when it comes along the second time (where the hell does it even appear from?) it does kind of tar the experience a little, highlighting the lack of original ideas more than anything else.
The vehicles sections are well done too, with solid driving mechanics and the right amount of freedom. You’re directed down certain routes, but you’re given the right level of control to make you feel as though you’re in charge.
There aren’t enough missions that feel like, well, missions. It’s a greater emphasis on action, rather than elite hardcore soldiering.
The biggest disappointment of all is the short runtime, however. On Normal you’ll likely see the credits at around six hours and for forty quid that’s just not good enough, whether you’re planning on spending most of your time in multiplayer or not.
Scratch that, actually, the real disappointment is the way it respects the soldiers. You can plaster quotes on the heroism of warfighters all you like, but if the only way Danger Close can get us to care about its characters is through forced flashbacks then it doesn’t quite understand the possibilities of mature narrative in videogames.
Which is a shame, because the previous Medal Of Honor genuinely had moments of squad-mate camaraderie: fighting alongside your fellow soldiers, and doing what needs to be done for them, was was a constant feeling throughout, however muted it may have been.
It’s disappointing that, in an effort to chase the Call Of Duty crowd, Danger Close – or, more likely, EA – has severed the human touch that showed so much promise in its last Medal Of Honor outing.
Version Tested: PS3