“I had high hopes for a realistic, well paced and enjoyable shooter to offer some competition, this was not the case.”
Medal of Honour is a pedigree franchise that has spanned multiple generations of gaming platforms, before the cinematic antics of the Call of Duty series took hold on the world the classic PS2 Medal of Honour: Frontline landing at Omaha beach was a breathtaking intro to any World War 2 shooter. Recently the series has taken a detour and caught up to the world of Modern Warfare, while the first modern Medal of Honour was not without criticism it was a fair effort and did a lot of things right.
Popping the latest instalment into my drive I had high hopes, the previews had been good and enough time had passed for some learnings to be taken from the last game. This game runs again on the Frostbite2 engine, which is still delivering a top class experience in other titles of the genre and developers Danger Close have taken a leaf from the competition by dragging constant characters along with the narrative.
There are things to like about this title, some of the settings are interesting, the ambient effects around the environment are well implemented and upon first experience some of the level shifting mechanics impress. The graphics are good, although in dark levels it can be hard to pick your targets, but the gameplay does have issues and that cannot be good in a game that needs to flow.
The levels are particularly funnelled and on more than one occasion I have encountered invisible walls that prevent me from having a nosey behind the scenes, there have also been issues with sliding into cover and getting stuck on scenery. Combat experiences are very much driven from set piece to set piece, where a number of repeated enemies must be eliminated before the AI moves on. It feels forced and loses any feeling of immersion while popping from cover to shoot the same enemy again.
There are also problems with objectives, while I am not a fan of games that hold my hand I do enjoy some direction. More than once I have found myself wandering around an area looking for something to do because I missed an audio cue. Early on I lost the instruction to breach a door, presumably in the heat of battle and promptly spent too long looking around, eventually finding a door with a button instruction popping up. Breaching doors is actually a pleasant diversion, there are multiple breach entry methods that can be unlocked by performing a set number of headshots during the breach. That said, its pretty much only a different set animation for your AI buddy, you still need to do all the shooting.
Environments are varied and jump from a terrorist training camp to a flood ravaged Phillipines, there are also some on-rails vehicle sections. The first of which is a hot pursuit of a suspect through a Favela style township, at first it felt out of place, but actually became a highlight moment of the game as I screeched around blind corners in chase of my prey scattering chickens and bicycles alike.
Weapon inventory is a departure from the norm and something that still has my jury out. Starting with two pre-selected weapons you progress through the levels, there are dropped weapons to pick up, but they are not swapped with your own, they add to the selection. Which means swapping to an alternate drops the picked up weapons and returns you to the original pre-selected pair. Further to this, AI teammates are a constant supply of ammo, so running empty won’t hurt if you can sneak up to a teammate for a top-up.
The title also feels incredibly over scripted, there are scripted moments in every FPS these days and they usually centre around a grand set piece. Warfighter certainly has its fair share and there are mini-scripted moments that bring out environmental changes, but the gameplay also feels scripted. To the point that restarting a particular checkpoint a few times I found myself confronted with the same enemy performing the same actions at least three times. Strange but true.
Overall the physical aspects of the gameplay feel over light, like a car with too much air in its tyres, the ballistics do not have any particular grunt or weight and weapon sounds are fairly weak in comparison to the leaders of the pack in this genre.
There is a cliched and overwrought narrative linking the levels as the timeline lurches around, but it really should be considered superfluous, once again – just a sensible objective and a mission briefing will do.
Multiplayer is something I had looked forward to, during my time with Warfighter I have spent nearly three weeks without any internet access. If at some later stage I find the online game to be a lot more compelling that the single player campaign I will definitely post about it. However with the big hitting releases around the corner I expect the lobbies will be fairly quiet by then.
Overall – Warfighter falls well short of the standard set by the competition, and more so a much less enjoyable outing than the previous MoH game of 2010.