After playing Halo 4 and Call of Duty: Black Ops II, I finally got around to playing Medal Of Honor: Warfighter. Did I do that wrong? Probably. Did I spoil myself? Yes. Was there a reason that the game was released before those two juggernauts? Likely. Does it change the fact that EA’s latest entry into the Medal of Honor franchise is a lacklustre effort that pales in comparison to the two aforementioned FPS titles? Absolutely not.
Due to some scheduling issues in the We Got This Covered bunker, I only just got around to polishing off Medal of Honor: Warfighter. Then again, as we say around here, better late than never, right? And so, with that in mind, if you still haven’t had the chance to jump into the latest FPS offering from EA, then we’re here to tell you if it’s worth your time.
I’ve always felt the same way about the Medal of Honor series. On their own, they aren’t bad games. The single player campaigns usually offer up a fun albeit repetitive romp through some war torn country and the online component is usually pretty deep and engaging. The problem is, the games are usually only average at best, and when we’re spoiled with titles like Halo, Call of Duty, Far Cry and Borderlands, there isn’t really any room for “OK” shooters.
And that really comes to light when you compare Medal of Honor: Warfighter to the games that it is competing against. Like I said, I played the game after I finished Halo 4 and while I was still working my way through the campaign of Call of Duty: Black Ops II. By doing so, I was able to see the games side by side so to speak, and it was a real eye opener. It was so easy to see just how mediocre Medal of Honor: Warfighter is, especially when I looked at the other offerings that the console had.
So, where to begin? Let’s take a look at the single player campaign, shall we?
The story, if you can call it that, is a jumbled mess. It jumps from past to present without much reason, and happens to be as hollow as a turtle’s shell. It’s so disjointed in fact that I’m finding it hard to even describe what it’s about. We’re taken on a way too familiar romp through the Middle East as we follow the tacky, poorly written and under developed story that puts us in the shoes of Tier 1 Operator Preacher, who returns home from his tour of duty to find his family life has been torn apart.
Of course, that’s intertwined with his efforts to take down a global terrorist group. Throw in all the usual military jargon, tired and rehashed scenarios and a globe trotting campaign taken right out of every other FPS game and you have a really, really crummy story. The narrative barely holds things together and three missions in I had already lost interest and gave up on trying to follow this sad excuse for a plot.
As for the campaign itself, well, it’s not much of an improvement. A few of the levels are quite fun and there are some strong set pieces to boot, but on the whole, the six hour trek through the Western world is far from exciting. It’s clear that Danger Close is trying their darn hardest to imitate Call of Duty, the only issue is, as hard as the developer tries to emulate the successful formula that Activision’s series has found, it can’t quite reach the same level.
While Call of Duty is a non-stop rollercoaster ride featuring one spectacular set piece after another, Medal of Honor: Warfighter‘s thrills are few and far between. Most of the campaign has you taking out waves of braindead, generic enemies, hiding behind cover and then moving onto the next uninspired and dull environment. Rinse and repeat.
Sure, you get the required helicopter and boat levels (which are way too scripted), as well as a car chase or two but still, most of the game has you entering a large area, seeing a swarm of enemies run out, dispatching them and then moving on. It’s lazy design and it gets boring really quickly.
There are also endless breach and clear scenarios and a cover system that is seriously the most poorly designed gameplay mechanic that I’ve come across in a long time. Linear action sequences fill the game, and you’ll find yourself following an all too predictable pattern. There’s no room for strategy here either as the game leads you down a very set out path, leaving no room for deviation. When the game does try to do something different, like with the level Hat Trick which sees you watching a cutscene, firing a shot and then watching another cutscene (yes, that’s the whole level), it fails. Some of the missions literally play themselves, which is ridiculous and infuriating.
Ultimately, the game comes off as lacking any soul or flair – it’s not its own beast, it’s a rip-off, something that is just unnecessary and so completely banal. Almost every level is the exact same and it feels like nothing ever happens, except: enter large area, wipe out generic/brain-dead enemies, move on to next large area. There is no sense of pacing of tension or of anything actually happening. Nothing feels pieced together and their really is very little excitement to be found.
The FPS market is an extremely crowded one, and if a developer puts out a title and wants you to spend your hard earned cash on it, then they better be doing something different. Not only does Medal of Honor: Warfighter feel like the most generic/cliched/recycled game that I’ve played in the past five years, but most of its gameplay is so frustrating and just plain dumb. There really isn’t much fun to be had here, and in a season that sees numerous AAA titles released, I find myself questioning why I’m wasting my time with this.
When it comes to presentation, the game holds up, for the most part. The Frostbite 2 engine is hard at work here and it shows. Now, you’ll need to install a 1.7GB texture pack to really get the most out of the presentation, as without the install things look pretty shoddy. After the install, though, you’ll be in for a treat. The character models are great and there is some fantastic lighting. Destructible environments and authentic feeling firefights do add to the realism of it all. Some hit detection and screen tearing issues pop up here and there, and a couple of AI glitches found their way into the finished product. However, it’s pretty solid overall. Admittedly, a few of the levels felt a bit too dark and murky, and there were some instances of textures popping in, but nothing too terrible. The 7.1 surround sound is also very good, with strong environmental effects, sharp sounding weapons and an overall booming soundscape that fills the room.
And then we come to the required online multiplayer that, while not terrible, is like the campaign; quite similar to most other offerings out there. Despite this, I had a lot of fun playing Medal Of Honor: Warfighter online. It feels a lot like EA’s Battlefield series, particularly Battlefield 3, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Most of what’s offered here is what you’ve come to expect from the genre.
Aside from a cluttered and complicated interface, Danger Close has done a fairly good job here. Players start by choosing a soldier from a specific country. Of course, each option has pros and cons (i.e.: weapons and stats), and you are stuck with your choice until you unlock further options, which is done by earning XP and ranking up. You’ll also have the Assaulter class unlocked for you at the start, and after a couple of hours, you’ll see more classes open up. It does take a while before things start to open up in regards to countries and classes but once they do, there are some great unlocks and customization options and things get pretty deep. That’s especially true with regards to individual weapon customization.
We also finally get to see some creativity in the game as Danger Close has implemented a “Fire Team” feature, which is basically like a buddy system. When you hop into the match, you’ll be paired with a teammate who you can spawn on, share ammo with, heal and fight with. It’s a feature that encourages teamwork and discourages lone wolf play.
As for game modes, it’s pretty standard. You have your deathmatch, team deathmatch, objective based modes, etc. Nothing terribly groundbreaking can be found here, but it’s all good fun. From what I experienced, matches ran smoothly and everything seemed balanced. There are a lot of ways to earn XP and rank up, and it doesn’t take too long before you’ve really opened up the online portion of the game. Like I said above, it’s pretty similar to other FPS games, but I had a lot of fun with it.
When all is said and done, though, a competent multiplayer portion can’t excuse the abysmal single player campaign. My biggest gripe with the game is the fact that EA is asking us to spend money on this game when there are offerings like Call of Duty: Black Ops II and Halo 4 out there. Those are games that, while similar, are far superior. Medal of Honor: Warfighter isn’t the worst game in the world, but it’s just so bland, uninspired and lazy. The single player campaign is full of one trite design idea after another, all tied together (barely) by an asinine story that literally is impossible to follow. And while the multiplayer is pretty fun, it’s nothing you can’t get elsewhere.
Simply put, Medal Of Honor: Warfighter is an underwhelming game and, quite frankly, it’s a bit insulting. When you can’t even pull of a respectable six hour campaign work, you know you have a problem.
This review is based on an XBOX 360 copy of the game that we were provided with.