Monday, October 29, 2012

Medal of Honor: Warfighter – missing the mark

Medal of Honor: Warfighter, as a game, plays fine. The movement and shooting feels responsive, the textures look crisp and smooth, and there are some great standout moments like breaching doors and the driving sequences. However, Warfighter in it’s entirely feels uninspired and suffers from a lack of direction of where it wants to go.

From the start, the narrative jumps from point to point, beginning in the past and ending up somewhere in the present. Between taking the roles of different soldiers from the previous game, Medal of Honor, Danger Close plays fast and loose with which role you’re playing and your motivations for each mission. I pay attention to the narrative in almost every single game I play, regardless if it’s a military shooter or a fantasy RPG, and I had a hard time keeping up with who was where when and why. At one point, Dusty, the cover character from the previous game, makes a phone call to Preacher’s wife. Although we don’t hear what he says, I assume he is telling her Preacher is dead, as she falls to her knees crying on the kitchen floor. The next mission has you taking the role of Preacher, who survives the mission.

I had my doubts when Medal of Honor: Warfighter announced it would be using Frostbite 2. While the engine is still, in my opinion, the best looking engine in the game industry, I had apprehensions about how it might look a year later after the release of Battlefield 3, and how Medal of Honor: Warfighter might look too similar to Battlefield 3. After playing through the campaign, Frostbite 2 still looks great on high-end systems and the animations flow without stutter.

However, the best moments in Warfighter are the driving sections. EA Black Box, the who developed last year’s Need for Speed The Run, handled these missions, treating them like a racing game. The results are non-clunky handling that feels open and free, unlike linear vehicle sections found in games like Call of Duty.

Breaching is fun, and reminds me of old Rainbow Six games. Read here for my take on the way Warfighter implements its breach mechanic.

If you noticed, I only talk about the best parts of Medal of Honor: Warfighter: the engine, vehicle sections, and breaching. The rest aren’t noteworthy at all. Many moments set up what looks to be an exciting mission, only to skip to a different location and character. After the vehicle chase mission, it sounds like you have to fight your way out of enemy territory, but instead a black screen appears and you’re in a different part of the world. The sporadic story-telling and stale missions don’t create a compelling package. The box could say a different name entirely and the differences would be minimal. In a world where shooters have to either be bombastic and over-the-top, or go down the route of authenticity and realism, Medal of Honor: Warfighter does neither.

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