I’ve been trying to come up with a classier term to describe Medal of Honor Warfighter, but perhaps it’s best to just be blunt: it sucks. I wonder if anyone at Danger Close knew this when they were developing it, if the playtesters reported back to the developers “hey guys, you’ve fixed all the bugs we’ve reported, but you haven’t addressed the problem where the game isn’t fun to play in any way.” Was there ever something in their bug tracking system like that? “#10592: Game isn’t fun (RESOLVED WONTFIX).”
How do developers feel when they finally get something out the door they’ve been working on for years at a time, and the public responds with “what is this garbage?” It must be quite demoralising. Did they realise how bad the gameplay was during development? If so, why wasn’t any action taken to fix it?
Medal of Honour Warfighter is yet another modern military shooter, however when I say “modern” I mean the gameplay feels like it’s from 2005. It’s a direct sequel to 2010’s Medal of Honor reboot, once again tracking the adventures of Preacher and Mother as they travel the world, killing everyone in sight. The game is built on top of the Frostbite 2 engine, so the graphics are very, very pretty, and the general presentation of the whole game is solid. Audio work is fine, however the voice acting is borderline Resident Evil. During heavy firefights, your in-game squad will give you directions in the kind of tone reserved for meditating while on the toilet.
The single-player campaign is an exercise in confusion and frustration. Enjoy trying to piece together the convoluted mess that is Warfighter’s plot, which is told via prerendered cutscenes and out-of-order flashback missions that make less sense than Lost during those seasons where the writers were doing it all on-the-fly. Two of the selling points of Warfighter is that some missions were “inspired by actual events” and that it had input from actual Navy SEALS (who went on to get disciplined for giving certain bits of information to the developers – I wonder how they feel, being docked two months pay, all for… this). Neither of these points make the game more entertaining in any way, and in fact help to make the plot seem even weirder, with a mission against Somali pirates randomly wedged in the middle of the game for the sake of being “curent.” I’m also confused as to why Sarajevo is in ruins, being that war ended there in the mid-90s and it’s frequently listed in tourism top ten lists these days.
Monotone trained killer/family man Preacher is trying to get his Angry Ex-Wife to let him see his daughter; she’s inexplicably constantly angry at him (did she not know what being a military wife entailed?) and he’s portrayed as the beaten-down divorced dad that just wants to see his daughter. Poor guy. Oh wait, time for a flashback where he goes on a murderous rampage in the name of national security, invading random third-world nations and gunning down the locals. But feel sorry for him, his wife doesn’t want him to see his daughter! This is all explained with dialogue and voice acting that’d make George Lucas proud. I’d try and explain the plot a bit more but I literally cannot figure it out; I’ve actually resorted to Wikipedia to try and make sense of it and I’m still going “huh?”
But who cares about the plot, right? I mean Mario games are fun and they’ve been riffing on the same plot for decades now, it’s the gameplay that counts! Well, unfortunately it’s as awesome as the plotting. If Uwe Boll made a Medal of Honor movie, I would look forward to that more than playing this game.
You’ve got your usual FPS controls – movement is mostly fine aside from getting stuck on uneven ground at certain points, there’s an alright selection of weaponry, and no real huge learning curve with the controls. The problems stem from level design mostly – you’ll find yourself randomly gunned down with no clue where the enemy is, repeatedly going back to checkpoints and starting over to get gunned down again, and again, and again, until you finally see a few pixels hiding in the shadows in the distance. You could argue that a) maybe I suck at first person shooters or that b) this gives a more realistic military experience, and they would be valid points, however I’ve never struggled this much to get through a shooter before, and every time I’ve wound up dead I felt cheated instead of blaming it on my own incompetence. I’m not saying enemies should have huge targets or big ducks strapped to their heads, but it’d be nice to not be hunkered down wondering where shots keep coming from. In most shooters you have an indication of the direction you’re being shot from – I frequently found that the vague red line through the crosshair was completely unhelpful at pointing me towards my assailant.
Breaches were another part of the game I found irritating. Get up to a door with your squad, hold the square button and choose a method to breach, the door will get kicked in, and you’ll enter in slow-motion and attempt to gun down everyone in a darkened room. Great, but what happens if you enter a room, fully exposed and with poor visibility, and can’t actually move the crosshair between targets fast enough to hit everyone before you’re gunned down? You go back to the last checkpoint for the 84th time, that’s what. I doubt this would be much of an issue on PC with a mouse, but with a gamepad it was unbelievably annoying.
Gameplay isn’t all duck-and-cover-and-get-shot-by-someone-behind-you though. There’s some variety to the boredom: car chases that go on way, way too long and all come down to ramming a vehicle at the one exact moment, sections where you’ll be an invincible gunner in a helicopter mowing down everyone in sight, and the previously mentioned Somali pirate mission where you’ll… wait. And then take a single shot.
The single-player campaign is just not fun in any way. Every situation in the game will leave you with the impression that you’re playing an inferior version of something out of Call of Duty’s back catalogue.
I enjoyed multiplayer a lot more than the single player campaign, but that’s more a testament to how bad the single player campaign is than how good multiplayer is. The majority of games I played online ended with the dreaded “you have lost connection to the session” message despite my Internet connection being otherwise solid. I also encountered jerky player animations, some weird teleporting, slow-mo movement and audio inexplicably cutting out at random. I’m surprised to find there’s this many problems with the multiplayer, considering the game has been out for over a month now. Online activity is a bit dead – outside of around 7 – 9PM there’ll be virtually nobody else online from Australia and you’ll be resorting to US servers for games.
There’s six different gameplay types, all of which you’ve seen before in other shooters. You’ve got a choice of twelve different Tier 1 operatives, each one representing a different country. Even Australia is there, hooray! There’s six different classes that you can use as well – sniper, assaulter, demolitions, heavy gunner, point man and spec ops – assaulter is the only one unlocked by default, and the rest open up as you level up. Clans are called “platoons,” and you’ve also got leaderboard data if you want to find out who the top ten people in the world are who hate themselves enough to obsessively play this game. There’s also a whole Social area that lets you keep track of your friends, if for some reason they bought this game too.
At the time of writing, selecting the Playstation Store option from the title screen threw up an error message. There’s meant to be some upcoming DLC that adds some new multiplayer maps and ties in with the new Zero Dark Thirty movie, however there’s no sign of it on PSN yet.
I really can’t recommend Medal of Honor Warfighter. You’re looking at a relatively short, boring, confusing and frustrating single-player campaign combined with buggy multiplayer and an online community that I doubt will be around in a month. Aside from some gorgeous graphics courtesy of Frostbite 2, Warfighter really doesn’t have anything going for it.