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Saint's Spoiler Free Review Of MoH: Warfighter...

It's been a long time since I've submitted a user review, but I chose to review this particular game because of the stark contrast between my perception of the game and the official review posted by Game Informer and many of the other professional reviewers and media pundits. While there are certainly a number of fellow gamers who criticized the game, the majority of responses and subsequent user reviews still seem to question how and why the game scored as low as it did (I posted a blog about it here). In the end, the score stands and I'm relegated to providing an opposing perspective.

Medal Of Honor Warfighter

Game Informer Score: 5 / 10

Reviewed By: Matt Bertz

Read the Game Informer review here.

What follows is my review of Medal of Honor Warfighter. I played the game on the Playstation 3 with the day 1 patch installed. I completed the single player campaign in roughly six hours. I did not play the multiplayer component of the game and therefore will not discuss that in this review. Besides the score and tone of my review, you might also notice it differs from most of the other mainstream reviews in that it is more of a personal narrative instead of an objective report. My goal with approaching it in this manner is so it's clear the following comments are my own personal views and opinions of the game while trying not to be representative of the greater community.

Concept:

There have been more than a dozen games in the Medal of Honor series, but Warfighter is only the second one that focuses on the modern era of military combat while the others are predominantly set in the World War II timeframe. The last Medal of Honor focused on Tier 1 operators and special operations and was released back in 2010. Medal of Honor and its sequel (Warfighter) are often compared to its closest rivals like Battlefield and Call of Duty. While they are certainly similar, I'd say the two Medal of Honor games focus a lot more on realism, both in the types of missions you experience and in the virtual representation of combat. This can be a positive or negative result depending on what you're looking for out of the experience - if you want a game that simulates a day in the life of the Navy SEALS, play Warfighter; if you want Hollywood's interpretation of a day in the life of the Navy SEALS, play Call of Duty.

Graphics:

The game uses the powerful Frostbite 2 engine which is the powerhouse behind other noteworthy games including Battlefield 3, Need for Speed and rumor has it...the next Mass Effect. Most will agree that none of the complaints or bad reviews were because of the graphics. I thought the visuals were stunning, crisp and sharp. The character models are extremely detailed and life like, really demonstrating the horsepower of the PS3. In one particular level, you find yourself in a flood ravaged city with rising water and in another racing down the streets of Karachi; both are visually stunning. Regardless of what you're looking at, weapons, character models, scenery...it's all beautifully created and rendered resulting in a visually satisfying experience that assist with immersing you into the story.

Sound:

I'm not really a music person, so I never really take the sound tracks into consideration when playing a game. From what I recall, the music was sufficient, but not necessarily memorable. I'm not going to be humming any of the tunes like I did with Portal's Still Alive, but that's true of most games for me. Where Medal of Honor Warfighter excels is the voice acting. You won't find a more accurate and convincing cast of voice actors than what is present in Warfighter. The voices of the Tier 1 operators, especially the characters of Mother and Dusty, are every bit as tough and gritty as you would expect from hardened combat veterans whose only easy day was yesterday. The terminology they use is accurate and precise...or more appropriately - spot on. Besides the voice acting though, the special effects are just as real. The weapons sound like their real world equivalents and the combat sequences are tense, partly because of the sounds of incoming rounds and small explosions. As someone who works in military communications, I have to say the dialogue and radio chatter is quite convincing. Quite!

Playability:

I don't know about you, but I define playability as "does the game work". You put it in and it runs without crashing. The controls move your guy around and you shoot when you pull the trigger...the bullet goes where the cross hair is aiming. Overall, the game was stable and balanced. The objectives are clear and you don't wander around trying to figure out where to go or what to do. Playability also means the bad guys shoot back and do what bad guys do - run and hide; try and jump out and scare you; call you mean names. The A.I. controlled players might not operate with the precision and accuracy of actual Tier 1 operators, but I didn't noticed any glaringly obvious deficiencies like non-player characters stacking up on doors or dropping grenades in the punchbowl. This was an area that seemed to take a few shots from the professional reviewers, so I'm left wondering if they experienced the game pre or post the hefty patch that is said to have fixed a number of significant issues. All I can tell you is my own personal experience, and that my friends was this is a solid game with zero major issues and no real minor annoyances to speak of. No graphics tearing, no bad voice acting or distorted audio, no stability issues or problems with saving the game...no issues at all. Heck, the ending even makes sense. Start to finish, the game was rock solid and ran fine. For me...anyway.

Entertainment:

I look at the "entertainment" category as kind of a free for all field where there is no right or wrong answer because really there is no way to quantify or prove entertainment value. I might think that Farmville is boring and a complete waste of time, but there are thousands (or millions?) of people on Facebook who would argue with me. I can prove (or at least defend) the other categories, but I can't tell somebody they had fun (or didn't have fun) when they played a particular game. Most of the negative reviews cited the story and the missions as the culprit for the poor scores. I think it would be imprudent to quote reviews and go into specifics...you can find and read the reviews if you're so inclined.

So the question is obvious...is the game entertaining?

Of course I can only tell you what I think, and I think it was a compelling story accurately portraying a number of real world mission scenarios while injecting a degree of the human element and emotional strain into the story. Was it as sensational as Call of Duty...no, probably not. But it didn't try to be. It focuses more on realism. It would be like reading a history book and putting it down and saying, "Wow, that was a boring story. They used muskets instead of AK-47s. The story would've been better if they used AK-47s."

I enjoyed Medal of Honor Warfighter. I wouldn't classify it as "fun" based on the subject matter (in fact there was a rather emotional bit that tugged at my heartstrings) but I would say it was enjoyable and that I was entertained with it. It's only the second game in the modern era of the series, so claims of it being "more of the same" are unfounded and unfair, unless of course the game isn't evaluated on its own merits and instead grouped into the collective Call of Duty clone category. But if that's the case, then why does each chapter in the Halo series tend to be successful - aren't they essentially more of the same? The other danger with comparing a game to others in the same genre - what about gamers who might be new to gaming, new to the genre or haven't played that many other games...what would they think about this game if they haven't played 20 or 30 similar titles like it before? Would it be good then?

According to the Game Informer review chart, a score of 5 suggests the game is flawed. Evaluating the Warfighter as a standalone product without being rated against its predecessor or similarly themed games, there is no way you can convince me it is "flawed", certainly not with the patches installed.  Some might not have been entertained by it, but there are plenty of others who are/were, including yours truly. It's far from flawed.

Replay:

As previously noted, I didn't play the multiplayer mode, so any replay value would in all probability would come from playing this element of the game. Once you finish the single player campaign, I'd say the replay value is fairly low, unless of course you like breaching doors, because you certainly get to do that a bunch. Medal of Honor Warfighter is like a good movie - you watch it once and you're satisfied with the experience...but it's not one of the classics you'll bust out every year, blow the dust off and play again just to remember the good old days.

HIGHS:

Genre Blurring - I am a huge fan of genre blurring and even mentioned it as a concept I hope to see further explored in future generations of gaming. Genre blurring is a generic term that can encompass a number of different combinations, but Warfighter implements it by merging the traditional First Person Shooter (FPS) with a couple segments that are more akin to driving simulators or racing games. I know some gamers who didn't like this feature, but I thought the scenes were brilliant. In one instance you're driving an old beat up pick-up truck trying to chase down a contact of interest. As you careen around corners, take to pedestrian pathways and send the residents of this densely populated town dodging for cover, I actually felt the stress of the moment; in another very similar scenario, but this time you're behind the wheel of a sports car, you're trying to outrun a number of other cars filled with goons pursuing you to eliminate you. You get to zoom through parking garages and busy highways trying to elude capture...it reminded me of a few scenes from the Transporter. Again, I realize not everybody will like this feature, but I thought it was creative and original...and I really enjoyed it. Definitely a change of pace for the traditional military FPS.

Military Tribute - One of the things I loved most about the last Medal of Honor game was the tribute to the military at the end of game during the scroll of the credits. Well, Warfighter's tribute is broader and bolder this time around, and once again I appreciate Danger Close and Electronic Arts for including it in the game. If we're being honest here, I think it's slightly irritating when some developers who aren't necessarily supporters of the military have no problem profiting off of games that recreate war and this experience (they know who they are). Warfighter even takes it one step further with showing the personal life of one of the characters and the strain it has on the relationship with his family, and also recreates a military funeral procession that includes the memorable folding of the flag observance before it is presented to the family. I attended a memorial service at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Hawaii) in 2005 for a group of SEALS who were killed in Afghanistan that included Medal of Honor recipient LT Murphy. It was a somber and solemn experience...one that I will never forget...one that a video game could never truly recreate, but one that Medal of Honor Warfighter gets as close to the real thing as you're ever going to experience from a video game.

LOWS:

Day 1 Patch - The whole release and patch concept is becoming fairly common. For example, I picked up Halo 4 and Black Ops II at the midnight release, ran home and went to play them...but only after waiting for the games to auto update. Granted, their patches might not have been as extensive as the one for Warfighter was, but condemning a game because it released a major patch the same day the game releases seems kind of spiteful. It doesn't seem like all that long ago we got mad when games released and were full of bugs and it took months to get a patch on the street. Now we're mad because it ships without all the newest changes and fixes? I dunno...obviously I can't defend this practice, but I'm certainly not going to miss out on a decent game in protest of games that require a day of release patch.

Length - Because of the negative reviews and the fact the game had a fairly short campaign I initially opted out of buying the game and decided to rent it from the Redbox instead. True to the claims of a six hour campaign, I finished it over the course of roughly 3 days. For games that only feature a single player mode, or games where you have no intention of playing the multiplayer mode, $60 bucks seems like an awful lot to ask regardless of how good (or bad) the game is. Many gamers who did buy this game might be disheartened with it when they learn how short it is. Me, on the other hand...since I only paid $6 to rent it...I thought it was the perfect length. Like I said, it's like watching a good movie...you don't want it to last forever. I played the story, it ended...I was content. Any shorter, I might have felt cheated, but any longer and I could have gotten bored. I was okay with the length.

Conclusion:

Despite the outpouring of negative reviews, just remember there are a number of other gamers who thought the game offered more than what the industry reviews and Metacritic score indicate. Ultimately you have to make the decision yourself whether you want to try it or not. Me? I'd give it a respectable 8.5 - 9.0'ish...somewhere in there. Chances are it's the closest you're ever going to get to the real thing.

 

Comments
  • Great review of the Campaign. I don't think I've ever read anything this in-depth before.

    Unfortunately though, like the GI reviewer said, these games are equal parts Campaign and Multiplayer, so a crazy detailed review like yours only really covers half of the content. Most FPS games are generally considered to be Multiplayer games with Campaigns on top at this point, so simply reviewing a Campaign isn't necessarily a review of the game as a whole.

    Honestly though, I skipped this game entirely; partly because DICE wasn't heading up the multiplayer, but mostly because I already spent too much money this blockbuster season. After reading through your review though I'm pretty sure I'm going to pick it up. I really loved the last one, and that was mainly because of the Campaign. The way you've picked it apart piece by piece leads me to believe that this one may be better than the last. I'm a little wary of the length - six hours seems way too short to me -but after your review I think passing it up may be a mistake.

    As far as GI's review though, it seems that not a single person that picked this up agrees with anything that any reviewer has said about it, especially GI. Seems kind of suspicious that the gaming media as a whole has ranked it so low yet everyone that's played it loves it. A 5 from Gi says a whole lot about the quality of the game, and unfortunately Danger Close and EA will probably only take their cue from the gaming media's reviews. Hopefully they take a look at the fans response and ignore the media this time.

    If and when you dive into the Multiplayer you should really post something about that as well. Good stuff.