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Medal Of Honor: Warfighter Review | Dishonourable Discharge?

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Reviews
Tags:
Danger Close Games, EA, FPS, Medal Of Honor: Warfighter, PC games, PS3 games, Xbox 360 games

Medal Of Honor: Warfighter Review | Dishonourable Discharge?

Platforms: PC | PS3 | Xbox 360 (reviewed)

Developer: Danger Close Games

Publisher: EA

Medal Of Honor: Warfighter is a lot of fun in multiplayer.

It's not particularly innovative by any stretch of the imagination, nor consistent in terms of quality. Despite a massively embarrassing day zero patch, weapon damage feels inconsistent to a fault, clipping is rife, some of the Killstreaks feel notably unbalanced and the customisation menus become a nightmarish labyrinth designed to perplex and frustrate the player at every turn. Though the PC version might look rather pretty (we literally have no idea since we only received an Xbox 360 review copy - look out for a separate review or graphical comparison soon), consoles bring Frostbite 2.0 down to a decent-yet-uninspiring new low. Lacking the epic scale of Battlefield 3 and the hectic insanity of Call Of Duty, it's easy to suggest that Warfighter's multiplayer occupies an awkward and unnecessary middle ground.

However, thanks to the new focus on cooperative Fire Teams, Danger Close have managed to make the middle ground a bona fide playground for power couples.

Medal Of Honor: Warfighter Review | Dishonourable Discharge?

As promised, Warfighter promised to deliver a range of legendary special forces operators from around the world, such as the SAS, GROM and OGA. As you continue playing and rank up, you'll gradually unlock a range of different pseudo-classes, weapons, attachments and a few pieces of exciting kit to play with (such as lightweight aerial drones and menacing riot shields. Gun nuts will likely enjoy netting a range of different optics and boomsticks, while national pride is doubtlessly bound to grip the servers sooner rather than later.

Otherwise, it's basic business as usual. You've got some fairly well-designed if forgettably generic maps to run, gun and killstreak your way around, offering a mix of tight quarters with medium-range encounters. Snipers have their fair share of vantage points to set up shop, while everyone else has a fair few ways to bushwhack them. Gameplay is much slower and measured compared to that Activision franchise, with some satisfyingly weighty weapon handling and thunderous sound effects, but it's still not enough to distance Warfighter from the multiplayer experiences already on the market. Indeed, that you already own.

Medal Of Honor: Warfighter Review | Dishonourable Discharge?

Go in with a cooperative mindset, however, and Warfighter shows its true colours. Forced into two-man cells within a larger team, you're actively encouraged to work closely with your partner, setting up ambushes, scouting together and communicating effectively to stay on top. Should you die, you'll be able to respawn directly on your buddy's position - instantly if they manage to avenge your death. This symbiotic relationship might sound like a relatively minor tweak to the formula, but in practice, it adds a genuine sense of camaraderie to the traditional multiplayer mayhem. It feels intimate and worthwhile, granting like-minded players a genuine sense of accomplishment beyond K/D ratios. I daresay that many firm friendships and legendary double acts will be forged over the coming months.

Warfighter manages to cling onto its own identity in the multiplayer arena despite its numerous flaws and generic design (not to mention the fact that it could have just been a Battlefield 3 expansion). Had it released as a standalone multiplayer-only experience at a significantly reduced RRP, Warfighter's bring-a-buddy online gunfights would have been an intriguing foundation to build on through future updates and patches. And, more importantly, I'd have been able to recommend a purchase rather than a rental.

Medal Of Honor: Warfighter Review | Dishonourable Discharge?

Sadly, games are the sum of their parts. Desperate to justify a full-price retail release, Danger Close slapped together one of the most insipid, gutless and disappointing campaigns we've seen in some time.

Players trudge through a selection of oppressively drab wartorn environments as big burly men with callsigns like "Preacher," "Voodoo" and "Stump" yell out a nonsensical stream of profanity and jargon. You'll traipse around one desert town, grim grey city and dull swamp after another, fighting predictable enemy combatants who only pose a threat due to their equally bland camouflage. Then you'll watch things blow up, led by the nose between one explosion to the next through a selection of barely-disguised shooting galleries. Even though it's fiercely linear, the story makes no sense whatsoever; a lazy and confusing jumble of increasingly outrageous situations that's impossible to connect with or even understand.

Worse, you'll never feel like you're a real Tier One Operator.

Medal Of Honor: Warfighter Review | Dishonourable Discharge?

Instead of designing some memorable set pieces or giving players a sense of agency over their actions, Danger Close trot out insta-fail sections and derivative cliches at every turn. Helicopter rail shooting sections. Turret sections. Linear instant failure stealth led by an NPC team mate. A sniping gallery. Slow motion breach after slow motion breach after slow motion breach (so many that it actually has its own hilariously pointless progression system). Yes, all your favourite tropes are here, and they're all done better elsewhere. Even Modern Warfare 3, which fell back on many of its own conventions, managed to inject infectious blockbuster bombast into the proceedings. Warfighter just goes through the motions.

Don't misunderstand me: the functional campaign isn't technically bad. Fundamentally, it works. The 'peek and lean' cover system is fit for task. Weapons are satisfying to use. Horrible texture compression, predictable AI and several graphical issues notwithstanding (flashlights should not be able to shine through solid walls, for example), Frostbite 2.0 does manage to impress with some nifty destructible scenery and physics. Two-thirds of the way through the game, you'll even find yourself - shock horror! - having fun thanks to a jarringly imaginative vehicular level set in Dubai, wherein you'll thrash an unarmed car around the city streets pursued by relentless security forces. Danger Close channels Burnout in all the right ways for a few wonderful minutes. Sadly, it's over too quickly to be replaced by yet more grind.

Medal Of Honor: Warfighter Review | Dishonourable Discharge?

Warfighter's campaign is playable, but there's little joy to be found. It's 'just another' military shooter slapped together to order, a shockingly derivative soulless product that apes bigger and better games. Once completed, you'll have little reason to return. Chances are you won't even remember doing it.

The campaign is also extremely short, clocking in at about 4-6 hours all told. The aforementioned slew of instant-fail sections mean that some players will take longer than others, but there's only enough content here for a one-night rental.

Medal Of Honor: Warfighter Review | Dishonourable Discharge?

Ultimately, Warfighter's biggest failing doesn't lie with the gameplay. Throughout the development cycle, Danger Close promised that the storyline would add depth to its characters, treating the source material in a respectful and mature way. Sickeningly, this didn't happen. A couple of phone calls from Preacher's estranged wife promised to add some interesting emotional conflict, but instead resolve in the most banal and arguably insulting way possible. War is more important than your life, wifey. Deal with it. That's the message here. Danger Close didn't even manage to glorify the soldiers, who come across as one-dimensional, incompetent, callous grunts thanks to clumsy scripting and terrible friendly AI. After you watch ostensibly elite operators run into grenades, fire into solid surfaces and ignore targets right in front of their faces, it's impossible to respect them, let alone care about them or engage in hero-worship.

Warfighter deviates from its 'authentic' pretensions so much that one could make a case for false advertising.

Pros:

  • Enjoyable Fire Team multiplayer encourages cooperation and camaraderie
  • Dubai car chase level offers fleeting Burnout-style fun
  • Excellent sound effects

Cons:

  • Hopeless, derivative, dull, artistically bereft (and short) campaign
  • Multiplayer isn't innovative or technically competent enough to be worth £40
  • Predictable enemy AI, hilariously incompetent friendly AI
  • Gameplay, balance and graphical issues despite day zero patch
  • No real attempt to humanise or even glorify the Tier One Operators

The Short Version: Medal Of Honor: Warfighter is 'just another' military FPS without the courage, technical polish and value required to earn its full retail price. Despite surprisingly engaging Fireteam-based multiplayer, Danger Close's derivative effort is rental material at best and cannon fodder at worst. In a season boasting Borderlands 2, Halo 4, Black Ops 2 and Far Cry 3, EA's annual shooter needed to offer much, much more.

Medal Of Honor: Warfighter Review | Dishonourable Discharge?

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