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OXCGN’s Medal of Honor: Warfighter Review

OXCGN’s Medal of Honor: Warfighter Review

Game Gone A.W.O.L.?

by Daniel Geikowski

©2012 Daniel Geikowski

Medal of Honor: Warfighter, the latest FPS from EA and Danger Close, has constantly stated it’s based more on reality and authenticity than the other, more popular, first-person shooters in the market.

Danger Close has worked closely with Tier 1 Operators in order to produce authenticity in multiple areas of military operations. Ranging from weapons, gear, tactics, and even the various ways operators reload different weapons, Medal of Honor: Warfighter aims to give players an insight into the lives these unique individuals have.

Danger Close aim to portray issues these Tier 1 Operators face, not only on the battlefield, but in their family lives also.

Going off memory, I cannot recall any other recent shooter dedicating time to focusing on the effects on the family of a soldier, constantly away fighting for our freedom.

It’s a nice touch, that aims to add more realism to the somewhat over-the-top, gung-ho mentality of current first-person shooters.

Sadly, the amount of detail and effort put into researching and implementing these realistic actions of Tier 1 Operators cannot be said for other sections of Medal of Honor: Warfighter.

Single-player

The single-player campaign follows on somewhat from 2010′s Medal of Honor.

Players take control of “Preacher”, one of the many recurring characters from the previous MoH title. Preacher is part of “Task Force Mako”, an elite team of Navy SEALS, along with Mother and Voodoo.

The game opens with Mako in Pakistan, infiltrating a shipping dock, tasked with sabotaging a black market arms deal. The game throws the player straight into the action, teaching the player the basics as they work their way through the dock.

Mako successfully set a charge on the target truck carrying the illegal arms. However, upon detonation, it triggers another massive explosion which destroys the dock, leading all hell to breaking loose.

Mako are forced to fight through enemies and falling debris in order to escape.

While being debriefed, Mako are informed that the compound PETN was found to have triggered the massive explosion. Mako are therefore tasked to track down the PETN, and stop those responsible before it is used in any further attacks.

The opening act of the game is solid, throwing the player into the action without going through the obligatory training mission. It does well in getting players engaged.

The campaign is a roller coaster. But it’s not the roller coaster of emotion that engages both viewers and players alike.

Off Pace

I’m talking about the pacing of the game.

In a word, it’s shocking.

Missions are so up and down. After the initial mission, players are then placed in the shoes of an extremist, in what can only be called a  terrorist training facility, where they run through a tutorial much like the beginning of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.

Granted, it’s a fresh new way of introducing a mechanics tutorial, but why do it after another mission? I assume they wanted to set the tone and theme of the campaign, but it’s a strange choice nonetheless.

Other missions involve the obligatory run-and-gun scenario, where players work their way through a bunch of enemies in various areas, in order to reach an objective.

These sections are broken up into other segments.

These range from sniping guards from a building to clear the way for other Fireteams, operating a chain-gun on a Blackhawk to mow down unlucky extremists, to piloting a boat carrying civilians.

Vehicles

Players will also commandeer vehicles in a couple of missions. Danger Close had the guys from Criterion Games help out with these sections, and the driving feels solid. While initially exciting, the driving feels a bit unnecessary and out-of-place in a FPS.

While I didn’t mind the inclusion of them, I feel they feature too much in the game. They comprise 2 of the 13 missions available.

The second acts like a stealth mission involving cars, which is a bit strange in a FPS.

Another mission involves players taking the role of another character named “Stump”, being tasked with taking up a sniper position on an aircraft carrier, providing assistance to a small boat overtaken by pirates.

You take the shot, and that’s it.

One shot. That’s pretty much impossible to miss. That’s pretty abysmal for an entire mission.

While these sections do well to break up the monotony of simply mowing down enemies with your trusty assault rifle, I imagine it aims to so the depth and diversity of the various Tier 1 Operators.

But to be honest, it feels a bit jarring to be jumping around constantly to various tasks. Not to mention the timeline of the game. It constantly jumps back and forth in time, which only adds to pacing problems.

Family time

The pacing really kills the overall feeling an immersion into the narrative.

The sections involving Preacher and his family also add to this. While they aim to add another dimension to a soldier’s life, highlighting the pressure it places on their family, these sections feel disconnected from the action.

For myself, I just couldn’t invest in the family side of Preacher. If the narrative solely focused on Preacher, and had sections with him on duty, with family parts interspersed in between, it may have come across more effectively.

However, narrative and pacing wasn’t the only thing detracting form the game.

Friendly Fire

A.I is a major disappointment in Medal of Honor: Warfighter.

While playing through the campaign, it seemed both enemy and friendly A.I were out to make sure I didn’t make it through in one piece.

Killing enemies felt like shooting fish in a barrel. Enemies would either wait and pop their heads up from cover, or just decide life wasn’t worth living and come charging at me.

Upon killing enemies behind cover, their buddies thought it would be smart to take cover on their former friend’s dead corpse. Things like this break immersion, really counteracting the “realism” of battle Warfighter strives for.

Not to mention, when chasing an enemy, they’ll politely wait around for you to kill all other enemies so you can resume your merry game of tag.

There is little sense of challenge and urgency when enemies are practically asking you to kill them.

I probably had more trouble battling the friendly A.I. though.

All too often, I would be taking cover while engaging the mindless enemy, when one of my teammates decided they liked my choice of cover, and wanted it for themselves.  I would therefore be thrown out of cover into the open, where I would get my backside handed to me by the extremists.

Sound/Graphics

Medal of Honor: Warfighter utilises the Frostbite 2 engine, for both singleplayer and multiplayer components this time around, instead of for solely the multiplayer in 2010′s MoH.

The environments in the campaign look great. The variety of areas, ranging from deserts, flooded towns hit by a hurricane, sunlit Dubai, crowded streets and ruined cities, are fantastic to play through.

While not as pretty as Battlefield 3, another game utilising Frostbite 2, the graphics are certainly above average. Player and NPC models look good, although the models in the cutscenes look a tad weird.

The sound complements the environments, as well as the gameplay. The soundtrack mixes well within the missions, and does not overpower the player nor the atmosphere.

Sound effects are great, ranging from violent winds and rain in the flooded areas, to the sound of the engine in the cars you drive about.

The sound effects of the weapons feel adequate too. Weapons fell loud and meaty, packing plenty of punch, rather than some of the lacklustre sounds found in some other shooters. Firing off the 870 shotgun is a personal favourite of mine.

Overall, the presentation of the singleplayer campaign is well done. Once you’ve had your fill of it though, you can turn your attention to the multiplayer component.

Multiplayer

The multiplayer addition of Warfighter is a mixed bag. At the EB Games Expo this October, Kristoffer Bergqvist told us that Danger Close wanted to cater to professional and competitive gamers.

I find it hard to imagine the game developing such a large following however.

Medal of Honor: Warfighter has a confusing multiplayer setup to come to grips with.

Instead of selecting a country to represent and choose a class, players are limited to a couple of classes to chose in the beginning. As players gain experience, they unlock new soldiers. These soldiers are of various nationalities, with specific, already determined classes/weapons and abilities, depending on the level unlocked.

For example, you are playing the Assault class. You earn experience. You gain a new level, and unlock a new Operator. This operator may be a sniper/demoltions expert/point man.

I find this weird to get used to. For me, I feel that as the player uses a certain weapon/class, they should unlock rewards that are solely related to that class.

In Warfighter’s method, you pretty much have to use other weapons/classes until you unlock the right class or weapon that suits you. Granted, it forces players to use other weapons and classes, but by not giving the player this option detracts from the fun of the game.

Weapons

It is the same in regards to individual weapons.

When players gain access to a weapon, it comes with certain components, others being locked. Instead of using said weapon to gain experience, and unlock new components for it, components are unlocked when the player unlocks a new soldier utilising that specific weapon.

Again, this could force players to use other weapons, but it feels weird considering the trend with many other first-person shooters.

The guns are completely customisable, which allows players to portray a sense of individuality and uniqueness to their otherwise standard operator. Weapons have a great number of paint camouflage, something missing from the operators themselves.

Players can alter weapon sights, grips, stocks, muzzles, magazines, etc. While some of these change the handling and operation of the weapons, most feel cosmetic, and pretty much up to the player’s preference.

The maps themselves are also a mixed bag.

They offer plenty of variation in terms of cover, sniper points, along with multiple paths in and out of areas. However, the environments themselves left a lot to be desired. They all feel pretty bland, with generic textures and models.

All levels, besides one or two, felt like they were the same. One giant big desert themed arena. Greater variation, for example the various Battlefield 3 environments,  would have been appreciated.

Jack of all Trades

Gameplay itself is very hit and miss.

Warfighter offers various gameplay modes, from the run-of-the-mill deathmatch, capture the flag, search and destroy, etc. These are pretty self-explanatory.

Modes that differ from other shooters are the HotSpot and Home Run gametypes, although nothing ground-breaking.

HotSpot is similar to Search and Destroy, where the attacking team has to plant bombs, while the defending team, well, defends.

There are five bomb sites, which get activated randomly every time. The attacking team must successful plant and detonate 3 sites in order to win, whereas defender have to protect the site for a certain amount of time before moving on to the next site.

Home Run is similar to Capture the Flag, except there are no respawns. Players have one life to either take out the flag, or wipe out the opposing team.

This makes for fast and frantic battles, which are enjoyable, but nothing amazing enough to constantly come back to.

Best Friends Forever

One of the best things to come out of Warfighter though, is the introduction of Fireteams.

Fireteams are small 2-man groups, that work together throughout the game. You and your bestest buddy can team up, and go across games, being the ultimate badassess, or trolls, whatever you prefer.

Danger Close have implemented a neat feature here. Fireteams encourage the use of teamwork. Sure, you can go off on a one man mission, but it’s a bit tougher. Working with your Fireteam buddy is more beneficial.

Players are able to spawn next to their buddy if they die, and are not in immediate danger. Staying in close proximity, Fireteams earn extra points for kills, avenging, saving lives from danger, and playing objectives.

The Firetem buddy is the only way to restore health quickly, along with resupplying ammo.

Sticking together through games not only provides more enjoyment, but the added skill point bonuses allow players to level up much faster. Too bad there aren’t any combined killstreaks to utilise, as I feel that is a missing potential feature.

We’ve been compromised

However, the multiplayer needs work. General gameplay needs an overhaul. Urgently.

I’m not sure whether it was because it’s just newly released, but from my experience, there is no way the guys at EA and Danger Close have been playtesting this for 1-2 years.

No way.

The amount of bugs experienced were shocking. I would constantly get shot through multiple solid walls, experience dodgy hit-detection, spawn next to an enemy, and even get spawn-camped for entire games. Surely Danger Close would have experienced this?

I would also very regularly spawn outside, even under the map. While I could use this to my advantage, it’s easy to tell this is a game-breaking exploit.

Even the beloved Fireteams aren’t safe. I would occasionally get spawned next to my buddy, even though there was an enemy right next to them. I don’t enjoy getting shot in the face without taking a step.

Although there has been some patches and fixes to improve performance, is it a case of too little, too late?

Mission Abort

Medal if Honor: Warfighter is an average game, at best.

It’s nowhere near the leagues of Battlefield, Call of Duty, or Halo, but it is also by no means a horrible game, as some would have you believe.

The campaign was enjoyable for the most part, although I was disappointed to complete it rather quickly, clocking in around 5 hours.

After completion, there isn’t much more incentive to go back and replay. Fun then lies within the multiplayer.

I don’t feel the multiplayer, in its current state, can compete with other offerings from various franchises. While the Fireteam ability is a great addition, everything else seems uninspired and done before, and in most cases better implemented.

The community is already starting to die. Since the October 25 release, there is roughly only 1000-1500 active players, which leaves matchmaking the specific game modes are long task, waiting for spots to fill.

This is appalling considering the community of titles such as Battlefield, CoD and Halo.

Overall, it’s very hard to recommend Medal of Honor: Warfighter to anyone.  With such outstanding competition surrounding it, the game will find it hard to survive.

I was surprised, even disappointed at the outcome of the game. After playing it at the EB Expo, I was pleasantly surprised with how well the game looked and played.

We even gave it OXCGN’s Game of Show.

It’s a shame, as Danger Close had some great ideas. I love the concept of authentic and realistic military  operations and stories.

Danger Close had noble intentions, I could tell they wanted to positively represent the sacrifice that Tier 1 Operators, as well as other men and women who defend their countries, make on a daily basis.

Too bad most of the game was poorly implemented.

If I was the Commanding Officer, Medal of Honor: Warfighter would receive a demotion.

6/10

Review based on PC retail copy. 
©2012 Daniel Geikowski
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About Daniel Geikowski, 2IC (40 Articles)
Like many of you out there, Daniel has a great passion for video games. So much so that he quit his day job to complete a Bachelor of Arts: Games and Interactivity degree. As 2IC of OXCGN.com, he's not satisfied with covering the basics of gaming, but the issues and topics many games raise in today's society. Follow him on Twitter @Deus_Exer

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