Matt Bertz sure got it right on the money when he stated in his recent review post that Medal of Honor Warfighter should in fact be called Medal of Awful. For all of the things that it gets down pat (which, of course is obviously not very many), the far-from-classic MOH game only serves to further that downward spiral that the series has noticeably been continuing ever since it fully exhausted the WWII genre years ago. The saddest part of all is that this was simply another one of Electronic Arts’ bids for competitive nature with Activison’s Call of Duty games- except, far from being the phenomenal success that Battlefield 3 was on both PC and consoles, Danger Close’s addition to the MOH franchise is a lackluster and unpolished experience. While the quality of the first ‘new-age’ MOH game that was released a couple of years ago was a far cry from that of previous games, as well as a much newer and intriguing approach- this iteration fails much more frequently and trades quality for flashier graphics and an even more confusing and nonsensical narrative. With all of this having been said, allow me to begin with a sorely needed review for a game that is receiving anything but critical acclaim from series fans and shooter fans alike.
I have always held the Medal of Honor series in a specific area for games which I feel deserve acclaim and my highest regards, at least, of course until the crappier sequels came along and forever tarnished the well-beaten path of the ferocious firefights and trembling quakes and the aftermath of skirmishes of the first few MOH games. However high of a regard that I held them in until this point however is sorely diminished by this abomination that seeks to label itself as a game worthy of the MOH name and title. For all of it’s attempts to create an experience even further from that of the first MOH reboot released a few years ago, the beautiful graphics and generic set piece moments can’t even save the game from it’s numerous pitfalls and aggregating factors. While many of the right tools are there for the game in some way or shape, they never quite work together in order to establish and fully construct the full picture- instead leaving broken and unfinished bits laying about here and there, and never fully meshing well as other great shooters do. For all of it’s attempts, even despite the fact that it is far from a terrible game, Medal of Honor: Warfighter more closely resembles Risen 2 than it does the classic juggernaut we once knew years ago… Yeah, it’s definitely just about as bad as the privateering failure of a sequel to the well-received first German RPG named Risen. That bad indeed.
To start of this entirely generic and commonplace single player setup for Warfighter, we find ourselves with the usual short campaign that milks each and every one of its set pieces (clocking out at roughly five or six hours max), a semi-unique melding of CoD’s solo style play and the necessary team-tactics of Battlefield, and another generic ranking and weapon upgrades cache for players to discover and unlock. Sounds like it has all of the right elements, no? Too bad almost all of them are either poorly implemented, not supported, or simply don’t match with the high expectations the game was receiving from FPS fans and the surely disappointed orderers of the Limited Edition versions. While it is true that the game wouldn’t be as terrible as it is without it’s multiplayer modes that are both uninspired and poorly handled for the most part, the solo campaign is not without it’s own plethora of kinks, quirks, and glitches- as easily shown by the (majorly) depressing day-one patch hurriedly shipped out by Danger Close. Multiplayer sure makes or breaks games, and there is no question that this one is certainly broken. I’d almost go so far as to say that even if this had been produced by Activision and shipped with the Call of Duty moniker, any die-hard fan would definitely think twice about the purchase once they saw the game in action.
In similar fashion to other shooter kings and franchises, there are multiple classes (six readily available ones in fact) along with the now normal associated perks and killstreaks to boot. One of the most ambiguous aspects of this title is the whole concept of the Fireteam- where two soldiers are paired up and benefit from healing, ammunition, etc. at the cost of a poor hit recognition system and archaic and crappy player interface. While it is an interestingly unique facet of multiplayer, and a thought for possible future single player excursions in games, the Fireteam construct virtually nullifies itself with equally matched pros and cons, making it a useless addition to the multiplayer and game as a whole. It is sadly and perfectly clear that, although DC does an alright job with the basics in the single player campaign- or rather, tries to mostly do so, they weren’t horribly off the deep end in the multiplayer department, having had no real experience in that area of game design previously. (Mostly because while the developed the single player of the first ‘new’ MOH game, DICE handled the multiplayer modes themselves.) Some of the worst features of multiplayer that are essential to having a functioning match include, but are not limited to navigation and respawns or their locations. Another one of the most annoying and infuriating aspects of the game’s multiplayer comes from the invisible barriers positioned at random throughout maps. Wanted to jump that one fence for that brutally tantalizing dropshot? Too bad, because you’re stopped by the forces of God himself- or so it seems when you hit a solid yet invisible obstruction and rebound back into the line of fire.
One of the semi-godsends of the game is the option to tone down the HUD and amp up the difficulty and realistically create an air of challenge and iron will in the Real Ops mode- akin to the Iron Man mode of the recently released XCom game. Sure, most of the same glitches and issues still show up throughout this challenging ballet of death and destruction, but it is made more manageable when dealing with a constant stream of enemies and bullets- despite the terrible UI/AI involved in most battles. Things could be much better yet, but somehow, the upped challenge defies the laws of gaming and actually makes the game slightly better than it’s easier sister. The modes- while trying terribly hard to be somewhat original and standalone from both Battlefield and Call of Duty, success sometimes in doing so, but are hardly memorable as they leave the lasting impression of a cleverly placed piece of spat out gum on the bottom of your shoe before being promptly cleaned off and forgotten completely. Basically- multiplayer is no trip down Tranquility Lane or even Memory Lane for that matter. The lack of originality continues to become the game’s main issue and bane as the mission objectives in both single and multiplayer modes are usually simple and generic ones ripped straight from CoD (or the whole tutorial in fact, is) and other stellar shooters- without much or any of the resounding successes though. Add in the lack of creativity and the jostled story and you have a true contender for Game of the- well, Worst Game of the Year.
As mentioned already by Bertz in his own review, another one of the only really intriguing and non-broken elements of the Warfighter experience is the option to doubly magnify your rifle’s scope with two separate scopes, or to switch scopes on the go with this mechanic. Obviously, this is nothing more than a neat hat trick- as this will not save the entire game in any way, other than headshotting your foes more frequently I suppose. The campaign hits usual known locales for terrorism and strife, the narrative- despite having the honorable hands of real life vets and Tier 1’s on it, could have been written more emotionally and realistically by my pet dog most likely- as the emotionless robots within the game portray war as a cakewalk for the most part, and the linear (although still semi-exciting) chase and breach sequences make for a completely forgettable and lackluster experience on the whole.
The nails are truly in the coffin even deeper than they were before, and most likely beyond being pulled back out again so that the viscous cycle can repeat itself. If somebody asked you in two years, or maybe even in one, if you had heard of Medal of Honor: Warfighter, much less played and purchased it- what will your response be? No, I never played it. Would probably be the appropriate one, assuming you haven’t realized your mistake…too late. Although I do admit that my score is maybe slightly higher than I would like to give this particular MOH game, for what it did manage to get right- which wasn’t much, it did slightly pull me in as it did Tim Turi in the Test Chamber, even though I soon recognized the lack of polish that even permeates the majority of the single player campaign as well…
Concept: Craft a mixture of the Battlefield and Call of Duty game-types into one single adventure, albeit a complete failure of an adventure- but one that managed to say it did such a thing all the same!
Graphics: One of the few things that Danger Close had going for it right off the bat was the beauty of the Frostbite 2 engine, and for all of it’s almighty rendering, they even managed to bring it down a notch with completely over-analyzed lighting configuration issues and some really terrible skins and textures littered throughout the background and city models.
Sound: The audio and voice overs are generic and completely forgettable, but they do an alright job when not glitching up and becoming an annoyance.
Playability: As one of the few things they managed to successfully do, the controls work perfectly fine- even if the drawback rears it’s ugly little hissing head in the form of many missed detected hits and what soon turn into false readings and subsequent revenge blows.
Entertainment: Well…it has guns I suppose… But not much else to say for itself… Other than a decently explosive intro I suppose…
Replay Value: Low for Limbo Even…(That’s pretty darn low!)
Overall Score: 6.75