Tossed in the middle of a crowded fall lineup is EA and Danger Close’s sequel to 2010’s Medal of Honor, subtitled with Warfighter. Enhanced by the power of Frostbite 2, does Warfighter send a chill down your spine or just leave you in the cold?
The story follows new Tier 1 Operatives around the globe stopping minor calamities to possibly major catastrophes by any means necessary. The story is driven, focused, and revolves around “Preacher”, his team featuring other callsigns like “Voodoo” and “Stump”, as well as his struggling family interactions. Cutscenes show the reality of basically any military personnel, always gone and dealing with things far beyond their control. You feel the close-knit relationship between these Tier 1 Operators as in any military group, you must trust the person you’re fighting with 100%. Each mission is high-intensity and perhaps a bit unrealistic as a result, but it’s all for show and keeping things fun. I think that’s a core reason why the missions themselves can be short, preventing you from becoming bored for the things leading up to and after a big firefight.
Missions are either fictional, or inspired by real events. There’s no shortage of globe trotting or bad dudes to shoot at, but it isn’t on as large a scale than the game’s competitors – Warfighter’s feet are firmly planted into the ground. This allows for a more tonal shift from extravagant to something reasonable. Cutscenes punctuate each mission, bouncing back and forth with the past and present. These events eventually tie together into something cohesive, even if the missions themselves feel haphazardly thrown together.
Warfighter isn’t all about the shooting, there’s a couple of driving missions that are included to introduce variety. The early on driving mission is a scripted chase sequence that can’t be accomplished any sooner than the developers want you to, which is understandable and would be anticlimactic as it is trying to build you up to the final moment. The engine noise as you put the pedal to the floor is throaty and through the entire drive is tension-filled as you drive through crowded streets and narrow alleyways. In a game where all you do is shoot, variety can be a good thing and this driving sequence is well done. You’ll have times where you shoot out of helicopter, snipe from a large distance, control an R/C turret, and other moments that include shooting, but have a different pace to them altogether.
I’m not entirely sure, but I believe this Medal of Honor has a score to settle with doors, as you’ll blow the hinges off each and every one to which you throw a flashbang, then slow-motion kill enemies that are standing behind them. The excessive amount of door breaching is fine given there’s over a half-dozen tools to do the job, such as axes, crowbars, doorknob busters, and other small explosives. You unlock more as you use the prior tool. It’s novel, but overdone. Warfighter also eschews what modern games of really any variety ask of you to do: collect things. They simply don’t exist here and there is absolutely no reason for them to. It unfortunately makes the campaign a one-stop shop, even a higher difficulty may not be enough for a return trip.
One of the bullet points for Medal of Honor: Warfighter is its authenticity, which comes in droves. There is authentic reloading, weapon modeling & handling, and even throwing of grenades, they are all how I was taught as a former Marine. The animations are smooth and deliberate, hardly of any unnecessary flash. The mantling system from Battlefield 3 is here, but perhaps a bit subdued. Sadly, there are issues if you die at the same time as a checkpoint is saving, you’ll be stuck in place and have to restart the mission or characters get stuck, but that happened once for each.
The campaign is carefully crafted and linear as a result, but it is not without heartfelt moments, pure adrenaline, and militaristic tactics. The attention to detail in cutscenes, actions, dialogue, and terminology makes for a believable world. Danger Close has excelled at ensuring that the military gets proper respect and does nothing to insult the inherently dangerous tasks laid out before servicemen.
“If it doesn’t have Battlefield or Call of Duty in the title, I’m not playing it”, I’ve heard you say. Well, you’re just limiting yourself, in all honesty. Warfighter’s multiplayer isn’t revolutionary, but it does introduce the importance of working together; in pairs of two, four and six.
Fireteams are crucial to succeeding in Medal of Honor: Warfighter’s multiplayer suite. You and a buddy can work together to simply kill dudes and keep each other alive and well armed, or work towards capturing an objective. The way fireteams work as that you are on your own team of two and have green names above your heads to indicate who you are to each other. Get close enough and your wounded friend can be healed and restocked with ammo to keep fighting. Should they go down, there’s nothing you can do but wait for them to respawn. Get a good score in a game, and you’ll have Support Actions you can use to call in – each are different and based on different classes as far as what gets used. Each class has an ability that can be activated at any time, but has a cooldown once used.
The map selections mirror some of the locations seen in the story, but aren’t exact and come with variations to the time of day. They’re often not symmetrical but make good on diverse indoor and outdoor locations that swap between close and long-distance combat, respectively. There are only six maps in total in the rotation, so you’ll often revisit the same locations again and again which is a bummer, but future map packs will increase the selection.
Customizations are huge in Medal of Honor: Warfighter, as the game uses all of the special forces of the world and allows you to select your favorite dude from the countries available. Within that, you can select the gun of your choice – if you’ve unlocked it. You don’t stop at just selecting a gun, you can customize a gun’s barrel, stock, magazine, and even paint job. Naturally more options become available the better you do as you rank up. It’ll be hard to switch to any other optics other than the dual-sight in which you have a scope and then rotate the gun 15 degrees for an iron sight – it’s fast, fluid and makes the weapon ultimately versatile.
PC Only: Getting into a match can either be done from the game itself or via Battlelog. As of this posting, using Battlelog has more problems than it is worth and can cause the game to crash to desktop. The matchmaking could also use some improvements as it will separate parties and groups across teams or other fireteams. You can lock in your slot which guarantees success, but hard to believe it would try to split you up otherwise. The UI is often clumsy to navigate and sometimes will bug out not allowing you to select anything unless you restart the game.
Warfighter’s multiplayer is just as exciting and fast as Battlefield 3 or Call of Duty, but maintains an intimacy I’ve not yet experienced while playing with people across the globe.
Medal of Honor: Warfighter is almost a complete package. The campaign pulls at your heartstrings with its gravitas. It attempts to be and is successful at being more engaging with its cast of characters who are based on real people who deserve recognition for their actions and sacrifices. Online, the severity of who you are is lightened for a fun and persistent experience. Unfortunately, the UI is cumbersome and sometimes doesn’t respond to your actions. When it works like you expect, it provides intense battles that will have you returning to the multiplayer to unlock more gear.