The lights are on
After the stellar success of Medal
of Honor: Frontline and Allied Assault, the series went on a downward spiral.
There were some decent titles, but overall it never achieved the greatness it
used to have. With games like Battlefield and Call of Duty moving from WWII to
the modern age, EA decided to reboot the series, which brings us to Medal of
Honor: Warfighter, the sequel to 2010’s Medal of Honor. You might expect
developer Danger Close to learn from the mistakes of the first game and craft a
much improved sequel to compete against Call of Duty now that they have full
control. You might expect that, but you’d be wrong.
From the start, the game seems
destined to push gamers away, right down to the menu design. It is the most
confusing and unintuitive menu I’ve ever seen, hiding basic features in other
hidden menus within the menu and forcing players to solve it like some very
boring puzzle. Getting into the single player isn’t too bad, but trying to find
how to customize your weapons, or even how to restart the checkpoint and not
accidentally restart the entire level is such a basic requirement I don’t know
how Danger Close messed it up.
The campaign is a slog from
beginning to end, with an oddly placed tutorial right after a prologue level
and ending with another linear shooting gallery. The whole game consists of
bland and grimy environments, with set pieces lifted straight from previous
Call of Duty and Battlefield games (with even worse handling here somehow), but
if you force yourself to go through the game it’s only around 4-5 hours or so.
The AI is incredibly stupid (often standing right in the open while firing at
you), the levels funnel you through linearly from fight to fight, the weapon
selection doesn’t even allow you to replace what you start with for different
gear and even the destruction capabilities of the Frostbite Engine are
completely ignored for even the most basic materials.
At several points in the game you
get to drive a vehicle, and one mission in particular had a highly intriguing mix
of stealth and speed that I’ve never really seen in a game. I also admit, even
though the story was incredibly simple and boring, Danger Close does seem to
try and show genuine respect for military veterans and an air of authenticity
that other shooters eschew. Of course the main problem is that the reason
authenticity is ignored in other titles is for the sake of fun, while Medal of
Honor doesn’t even bother trying to justify it in the way ARMA and Operation
Flashpoint do with the focus on realism, instead opting for the same
regenerating health and explosion filled levels that make the “authentic”
argument fall flat. It’s even worse when the cutscenes just seem to show how
truly unreal the women character models are, and when it’s obvious the writers
are trying hard to garner our sympathy. The game's few good ideas (like the dual sight system) just fall flat with the issues on display.
The multiplayer is a better
experience over the single player, but it’s still generic as a mix of Battlefield
team tactics and Call of Duty run and gun that don’t do much different from
what you’d expect. The last Medal of Honor game had the benefit of having DICE
at the helm of the multiplayer, which ended up making it fun, if lacking in
content when compared to other shooters. This time if you can find your way
through the terrible menu (which is so bad it should be mentioned twice), there
are a lot of weapons, classes and options for you to use. That is, if you’re
willing to play the game long enough to unlock even the most basic gear.
The game makes a big deal of having
you play as different nations vying to win, but oddly this gives the game the
exact opposite problem the previous Medal of Honor had. Now the game feels
cheap and fake, with Americans, Canadians and Englishmen all shooting each
other to death and making the multiplayer feel overly gamey. Even worse is the
fact that this makes it even harder to discern who your enemy is and who is
your ally if you aren’t paying close attention. If you even want to select which
nationality you want, that’s also something you’ll have to earn as various
classes are stuck with certain characters until you rank up.
The actual gameplay plays like any
other shooter on the market, to the point that you shouldn’t have trouble
jumping in and shooting things. The map design isn’t amazing, but it’s improved
from the unbalanced maps of the last game, while the weapons are all balanced
and satisfying to fire. The game modes are mostly standard fare, but they get
the job done. Even when the gameplay here actually manages to be mostly fun and
get the basics, the horrible spawn problems absolutely take me out of the
experience and often result in various cheap deaths and kills that make you
succeed through luck more than skill at its worst. The squad spawning system is
an interesting improvement on Battlefield’s system (since you can’t spawn when
your buddy is taking fire), but the buddy system at play limits you to one
other person, which limits team tactics. Of course with the aforementioned
spawn issues, it’s often better to try and spawn at a random location so you
could surprise kill some unfortunate players or be in a position to better take
Overall, Medal of Honor: Warfighter
isn’t so bad as to be offensive. It has the basics down (mostly), it looks
pretty, guns feel great and the multiplayer tries to offer plenty to players,
but it just fails to do anything notable and is brought even further down by
the various issues regarding AI, spawning and menu navigation. If you’re
looking for a good shooter to play with friends, I’d look elsewhere, especially
in a genre with many alternatives to choose from.
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