I was hoping that Warfighter was going to surprise me.
The series reboot from a couple of years back had some interesting ideas; but ended up being weighed down by terrible multiplayer and an embarrassingly short single player campaign. I defended the concept of being just a “grunt” in the field and a focus on a more realistic take on the battlefield. Call of Duty and Battlefield games had fulfilled my hero complex well enough, and the idea of being “just another soldier” intrigued me. That’s why, when Warfighter was announced, I was filled with a small sense of hope. I thought there was no way they could have not listened to the critical and fan backlash from the previous iteration; yet I still kept my expectations low just to be safe. I’m glad I did. You cannot be let down by an idea that you had put no stock in.
Medal of Honor: Warfighter is not a good game for many of the same reasons that its predecessor was; and a couple of new ones. The campaign clocks in at somewhere between four to five hours; which is a step up; but still strikingly short. The narrative tries to tell the continuing tale of “Mother” and “Preacher” from the earlier game; while casting the tale in a much more serious light. They try to imply the toll that these men take for their jobs, stop-loss, and relational strain that occurs; but it all goes right out the window when you are instantly tossed back into a mission. There is no time to process anything you are supposed to have taken in, and there is no time to build any sort of connection to these shallow characters. The issue lay in the fact that the narrative does not connect in any meaningful way to the gameplay. Because, for the majority of the game, you are jumping forward and backward through time; you never feel like the cinematics are connecting the missions together. It comes off feeling more like a “best of” collection of the military’s greatest hits. Which, contrary to what you may think, is the other problem.
Many of the missions in the game are “inspired by true events,” and are even noted as so at the beginning of the level, yet none of it “feels” real. What made the previous game charming was the fact that it didn’t necessarily feel like you were taking part in some blockbuster movie. You were clearing out towns, gathering intel, piloting a chopper, and other “day in the life” sort of objectives. In Warfighter, they have handpicked the most action packed real world incidents; but in doing so, now makes the game feel more like Call of Duty than ever. If I wanted that type of game, I would have just waited a couple of weeks for Black Ops II.
The game also has its share of mechanical issues. There are tons of frame-rate issues, both in the cut scenes and in gameplay; and the A.I. in the game is atrocious. There were multiple times where my own squad mate would push me out of cover or set in front of my scope as I was picking off enemies in the distance. Not to mention the times where I would stumble upon a squad member of mine and an enemy simply staring at each other, doing nothing. There were also moments I got ahead of the A.I. scripting, effectively having to wait to progress through the level; because some event had not happened yet. If these had occurred only once, it would not have been much of a problem; but the fact remains that these problems persisted throughout the entire game.
The multi-player is derivative and brings absolutely nothing new to the table. Its attempt at squad style gameplay feels like it is trying to be Battlefield, while the mechanics feel like they are trying to ape something closer to Call of Duty. Sadly, the most interesting part of the game are the segments not created by Danger Close; but rather the remaining members of what once was Black Box studios; the original Need for Speed team. The driving missions in the game; there are two; are some of the more tense and engaging in the entire experience. And as fun as they are; it doesn’t speak well to the whole product that they are what I remember.
Medal of Honor: Warfighter is a lesson in disappointment. In trying to make the game closer to “reality,” and create a unique feel for the franchise; they simply found a more creative way to make it seem like any other genre shooter. The narrative isn’t as engaging as they believe it to be; and the mechanics of the game are just plain broken. They don’t earn any of the emotional resonance they try to create; and they have created nothing to resonate with. Medal of Honor used to be a franchise that garnered a lot of respect and that has waned throughout the years. Sadly, this is not the game to bring that praise back.
At least we got our Battlefield 4 beta codes……wait; what? What do you mean that game hasn’t been officially announced yet?!?