Tension was high as I pursued the high-value target. I zipped through streets and barreled around corners. It was exhilarating and a refreshing departure from the past few hours of shooting. It was also surprising that instead of shooting, I was driving a vehicle in a chase through some shanty town in the Middle East. Yes, driving. The whole experience was gripping, but sadly when it ended the game returned back to being simply Medal of Honor: Warfighter.
This year’s release in the Medal of Honor series, Medal of Honor: Warfighter, isn’t all that bad. In fact, I actually finished the campaign this year since it wasn’t riddled with scripting issues like its predecessor. The campaign puts you in the boots of two different soldiers, “Preacher” and “Stump”. Those who remember (or finished) 2010’s Medal of Honor reboot may remember Preacher. A botched explosion in the beginning of the game reveals a source of PETN, a dangerous chemical weapon, setting the stage for the remaining seven hours of the campaign.
It took about half of the game for things to start coming together. Bouncing back and forth between two people makes telling a big story easier, sure, but it was also more difficult to identify with one particular character. The two driving sequences were superb, though, and really stood out from the otherwise-generic level design.
The game in general feels like any other modern military shooter, which can be taken two ways. On the one hand, nothing stands out in the gameplay. The added “peek and lean” feature (holding L2 toggles it so that the left analog sticks doesn’t make you move but instead lets you control which direction you are leaning) holds no value and I only used it to get the associated trophy. If there was an actual cover system, I could see this being more viable.
An odd choice in the storytelling was the inclusion of Preachers’ and Mothers’ families. To start, I had no idea why I was watching bits of a relationship. It eventually tied itself together at the end with an almost-emotional finale, but in the beginning it was simply awkward and out of place.
By the end of the game, I was satisfied I had played it. It felt mostly generic, as I said, but unlike it’s predecessor it was actually worth finishing – assuming you could make it to the halfway point where things starting fitting into place.
Multiplayer this year is a mixed bag. Danger Close had assistance from DICE when providing the last entry’s multiplayer, but this time Danger Closer solely handled development. Like most online shooters, it is class based, but the way you go about unlocking things has a new skin.
There are six classes, each with their own skill set, perks, and weapons. A few seem similar, but in the grand scheme of things, each class has its role. Unlocking things is done by leveling up (surprised?). Each level you go up, you are awarded with a new class for a specific country, known as a “soldier”. There are 72 total soldiers spanning the six classes, divided among 12 countries’ special forces units. Lots of military units are represented, each having their own weapon (some are variations that just unlock different gun parts). It’s a complicated system , but, in short, it achieves what it’s meant to – give players a variety of options to play around with.
The game throws a bunch of stuff at you from the get go. I spent my first half hour in the multiplayer section just looking things over. It was completely overwhelming, which is not a good thing at all. I want to browse the section for a minute or two and be about my business shooting people online, not sitting there with a swimming head wondering where to begin.
After six hours of playing online, I have finally grown to like a few maps, which is more than I would have said after the first few hours. I generally know if I am going to like a map’s design after a few times playing on it. I get better on maps I don’t like, but I don’t dislike maps because I am bad on them. These maps are just cluttered and (I hesitate to use this word again) generic. They feel like maps I had played on other games and just don’t have their own identity.
The single mechanic in multiplayer that Warfighter does better than any other shooter on the market is the Fireteam system. In Battlefield 3, you can spawn on squad mates, and get bonuses for helping your squad. In Warfighter, you are part of a Fireteam, a two man mini-squad, if you will, which paves the way for devastating tag teams. Your partner is always highlighted green, even through walls. This means if you don’t feel like talking on the mic (I was actually sick for a few play sessions, so this worked well), you always know where they are and generally what they are doing. If they die, their assailant is highlighted red for a few seconds, giving you the opportunity to avenge your fallen teammate. Even playing with strangers, it’s easier now than ever before to play as an actual team and not have to communicate if you don’t wish to.
All of that said, I’m also quite addicted to the multiplayer but it’s the complicated progression system that keeps drawing me back. The cues from various games may make a sticky mess when you mesh them together, but unlocking gun parts requires you to unlock various other guns. Want a red dot scope on that assault rifle you have been using with iron sights? Well, you have to wait until you unlock a later gun. Sadly, damage is not shown as a statistic when swapping parts, which utterly confuses me to no end. How do I know if I’ve improved my gun without that bit of information?
Battlelog returns, whether you want it to or not. I love the in-depth stat tracking, but once again it means you have to go to a website for stats that should be shown in the game. They’ve added a new function this time around, though: Warfighter Tokens. These are basically free experience points for every so-many you collect. You hop on to Battlelog and redeem the tokens, which count towards a meta-game called “Warfighter Nations”. The country that wins at the end of a “season” gets…bragging rights? After browsing the web for a bit, I couldn’t find any other sort of prize, but you get experience points which is something..
This year’s “big first-person shooter” from Electronic Arts and Danger Close is better than it’s predecessor. However, in most ways it just feels average. A single-player experience lasting seven or so hours shouldn’t take half of that time to draw a person in. The jumbled multiplayer portion of the game is good, but again, it takes some time to get into and understand. If you have the time to put into it, and are willing to meander through a few hours of a generic shooter campaign, Medal of Honor: Warfighter has a silver lining, viewable with patience.