I had high hopes for Medal of Honor: Warfighter. I thought this game would finally bring the series back to its former glory… and then I played it. Now, I’m starting to get the sense that MoH is the redheaded stepchild of military style first person shooters.
As it is, Medal of Honor cannot stand up against the likes of Activision’s Call of Duty (especially with the Treyarch games getting better with each entry) and EA’s other big war franchise, Battlefield. It feels like EA wants Medal of Honor to be a big name franchise; the games are given a decent development time and advertised everywhere, but despite all the hype, it seems developer Danger Close may not be up to the task of creating a game that can compete on a two-tiered level: exciting single player and multiplayer with staying power.
Warfighter begins at a breakneck pace with explosions and gunfire going off everywhere like it’s a New Year’s celebration on a heavy dose of speed. Within the first few minutes, I was absolutely loving what I was seeing from the game, but it dies down almost as quickly as it ramps up. The thing is, you can see bits and pieces of a good game poke up from underneath the surface, but too much of the old, average, and tired gameplay is present to really see anything but hints at what this game could have been.
There are genuinely fun moments in this version of Medal of Honor. For example, the car chases are exhilarating, and they always left me wanting more (which is a good sign). When I started driving a vehicle in the first such sequence, I was shocked at how much I was enjoying it. Swerving in and out of traffic, avoiding pedestrians, and recovering from collisions are a real treat. There is also a second driving section that is just as exciting as the first (but definitely far less realistic) in which you must hide from pursuers in cool down areas. This second section is gratifying as far as action and your need for speed are concerned, butl it felt so unbelievable that it ended up taking me out of the game instead of helping me delve further into the gritty world of Warfighter that Danger Close tried so hard to create. I almost felt like maybe the developers should have been trying their hands at making some kind of niche racer like modern military Spy Hunter instead of a Call of Duty killer. Unfortunately, this is about all I can recall as far as “fun” goes; anything else I would describe as enjoyable is buried too deep beneath the thick surface of the game’s many issues.
One very odd gameplay choice in the single player campaign is the developer’s fixation on door breaches. Throughout the game, you’ll be given a plethora of chances at Modern Warfare style slow-motion door breaches. This, in itself, gets tiresome rather quickly, but Danger Close must have thought giving the player different looking breaches would spice things up. It didn’t. What we end up with is a bunch of generic and useless variations on breaking down a door, which is not my idea of fun.
Another element in the game I’m not fond of is the paper thin narrative that has you jumping around from country to country and switching who you play as. Much like the second driving mission, the slipshod way Danger Close chose to tell the story only made me lose interest in the game.
There were also several glitches, like not being able to pick up guns, not being able to switch guns or change the fire rate after loading up a game, frame rate slow down during single player, and audio hiccups/miscues. Other gripes I had while playing are things like being constantly asked if I wanted to lower the difficulty when I came across a particularly tough part in the game (once I said “no” the first time that should’ve been enough), or the fact that the game is painfully linear (you are normally punished by virtual death for trying veer off the strict path the game wants you to follow), or the unforgivably poor menu design (in single and multiplayer the menus are both ugly and confusingly set up).
The Really Ugly
Another glaring negative are the weird visuals. At some points I wasn’t be able to tell if the characters look kind of decent or outright hideous… I went with hideous. This is especially true for the main character’s wife and freaky looking daughter. Something definitely got lost in translation with the character models.
NPCs (non-playable characters) are another mixed bag. During shootouts enemy and friendly AI become buggy (e.g. AI doesn’t change cover after it’s been destroyed, and friendly AI constantly shoves you out of your own cover and into the open because it’s been programmed to hide there).
Multiplayer is also nothing to write home about. The modes mostly seem quite generic. You get your standards, like Team Deathmatch and Sector Control (think Call of Duty’s Domination), but some of the better games are ones such as Combat Mission, which is like a Battlefield’s Rush mode with three enemy spots to take over and destroy. I had the most fun with this mode, but the boundaries as to where defenders can go are far too limiting, often making the game feel claustrophobic and difficult to win when you’re on defense. There is also Home Run, a game that has teams attacking and defending flags alternately with no respawns, so if you’re the type that likes the Call of Duty Search and Destroy style tension, that might be the mode for you.
The multiplayer buddy system, dubbed Fireteam, plays like the squads from Battlefield 3, but with only two people. This system works when you’re playing with friends or a good random, but it’s useless and kind of a hindrance if you’re playing with a new person or someone who isn’t trying to play as a team and communicate. Even when you are playing as a team, only having the ability to spawn on one person is dangerous, because you almost always spawn in the middle on a shoot-out. I just ended up spawning way back at the safe zone.
It seems like the gameplay hook Danger Close was hanging its hat on was the fact that a player can pick soldiers from a range of different nationalities to play, each with its own stats. Sadly, this idea didn’t feel fully realized to me. The nationalities just felt like a gimmick, a cheap paint job on pre-made classes.
The awful menu design comes into play more with multiplayer as well. It seems to take much more time than in other games in the genre to do things like find and select something you’ve unlocked (e.g. a gun or attachment) or to even find a match. To be fair though, this was also due to the fact that there just weren’t that many people playing Warfighter online when I was reviewing it.
In the end, I cannot say I had fun with Medal of Honor: Warfighter, and shouldn’t having fun be the main theme of any video game? When you put a game down, you should be able to say you enjoyed it. If you can say that, then the developers have at least done a good job. I cannot say I had fun with this game, and I cannot recommend it. Medal of Honor: Warfighter gets a 5 out of 10.