Medal of Honor Warfighter Review
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Danger Close
Release Date: October 23, 2012
You may remember that back at E3, I was asked to give up my seat during my demo appointment for Medal of Honor Warfighter at E3. In hindsight, after playing the game myself, I should have taken that as a hint and thanked them for doing me a favor. Medal of Honor Warfighter (MoHW) has plenty of good ideas, but most were executed rather poorly and nothing really tied them all together in a cohesive manner, thereby creating a rather haphazard conglomeration.
The story of the main campaign revolves around a team of soldiers comprising Task Force Mako who are hunting down a terrorist network with an affinity for using PETN, a chemical explosive. Players play as various members of the team, but most of the cut scenes focus on one member, “Preacher”, and his inner turmoil between his duty and his family. The opening cut scenes between the early missions started off as interesting enough, teasing me with the thoughts that maybe this military shooter would center on Preacher’s conflicting devotions between his job and his family, something every military man goes through, and as a military wife, I really wanted to see where this went next. Unfortunately, it’s all just background noise and has really very little to do with what actually goes on in the campaign missions.
The missions themselves all feel roughly the same. Oh sure, there’s a couple of car driving missions, a boat mission, a mission that includes letting players drive a remote-controlled robot, and a chase-on-foot mission, but they all have two things in common:
- you must follow down a set path and can rarely deviate; and
- you must kill everyone in sight.
The team is ushered down a linear road with every mission, so it’s nearly impossible to get creative with how you complete a firefight. Flanking the enemy is rarely an option, for example. Sometimes you can take the high ground for additional leverage (isn’t that what they teach you in Star Wars?), but that’s hardly a creative move.
The most offensive component in the game is the AI–on both sides of the playing field. The enemy AI is notoriously idiotic with defined, limited patterns of where they will walk and pop their heads up. I often kept my weapon aimed at one spot for each enemy without altering it, because I knew the enemy would appear at that point sooner or later. In many ways, the enemy AI felt like I was playing whack-a-mole with guns. It didn’t help that the opening tutorial (where you play as the enemy, I have to add) actually featured whack-a-mole dummies that literally moved up and down for you to shoot. At least the actual whack-a-mole game is a bit challenging since the moles move so quickly; these guys…not so much.
It’s a good thing that the enemy is so predictable, though, because your AI teammates are also predictable–meaning, scripted–to the point they will get you killed. If you try to take cover where a teammate is supposed to go, he will push you out of the way, even into on-coming fire. You only make that mistake twice before you take the hint and never take the lead unless you have to in order to progress the storyline. I always followed my team and never took cover until I saw where they planned to go. I cannot stress how annoying this was after awhile, especially when their movement triggered enemy AI to open fire while I’m still out in the open.
Warfighter‘s inclusion of different vehicles to drive on occasion seemed to spice up the variety, but they all came to the same disappointment conclusion. The first car driving mission was fun initially until the realization sunk in that there’s not much to it other than following your target down a set path so you don’t “lose” track of him. Crashing into other cars does not take out your vehicle, but it will slow you down enough that you will lose your target. Running over people doesn’t stop your driving either, something I thought would surely prompt a mission failure screen, since you’re supposed to be a little covert. The driving controls are hardly complicated either, so even those who are terrible at driving portions of games (like me) will sail through this like a pro. In other words, there’s little to pump the adrenaline. Driving the boat felt just like driving the car, which should handle vastly differently, right? The boat shouldn’t handle turns just like the car and vice versa, right? Even driving the remote-controlled battlebot was disappointing, mostly because it was so short. Finally, Danger Close gave me something fun to drive and shoot, and the little thing barely lasts ten minutes.
Like most military shooter campaigns (Modern Warfare, Battlefield), Warfighter‘s campaign was incredibly short, because the developers want players to spend plenty of time in the multiplayer portion. The multiplayer modes and features are similar to what you will find with any other current military shooter. There are two types of mission modes, a deathmatch mode, a capture-the-flag mode, and a domination mode. The real point of interest for the multiplayer is the fireteam feature, which sets up partners amongst the teammates. Your partner can give you extra ammunition, and if you avenge your partner’s death–kill your partner’s killer–your partner will spawn at your location. It’s an effective way to force a team to play cooperatively, even if the team is a group of strangers. As anyone who has played multiplayer of either Battlefield or Call of Duty knows, the team that plays cooperatively together as a team will do better with each match.
And therein lies the problem. Being forced to partner with a stranger is rarely fun. It’s one thing to team up with strangers, but it’s another to really, really have to work with a specific stranger as a partner. I’m really shy around people I don’t know, so I had difficulty in communicating with my partner effectively, which just made him rather angry and I got yelled at a lot. It wasn’t pleasant for either us, and I have zero interest in going back into the multiplayer without any friends around.
I remember when Medal of Honor was a solid title back in the PlayStation 2 days, and it’s really disheartening to see the franchise produce such a jumbled mess of a game. Perhaps before EA launches the next title in the series, they should determine a more cohesive identity for the game before they start development. In the meantime, anyone looking for a new shooter to try out should avoid Warfighter and investigate others already on the shelf.