First Looks// Medal of Honor: Warfighter

Posted 20 Apr 2012 09:00 by
Iíve got to be honest here, and thereís no easy way to do this so Iíll just be blunt. Iím not excited about Medal of Honor: Warfighter. At all. And I canít see any reason why anyone should be excited about the game, either.

Itís not because I want to hate it. In fact, Iím rooting for Danger Close to deliver a satisfying, action-packed war game here. The studioís 2010 Medal of Honor debut, a dismal effort to keep up with the Jonesí (Call of Duty and EAís own Battlefield), should have afforded it the experience to learn what went wrong and provide an experience in Warfighter that could really engage players.

And although I canít speak for gameplay mechanics just yet - I was presented with an extensive hands-off demonstration - aesthetically there is absolutely nothing here that appears distinctive in the slightest. The action taking place on screen could have happened in any game, and unlike Call of Duty and Battlefield I saw no signature elements in design or presentation that screamed, ďI am Medal of Honor and I am different!Ē

This is a shame in many ways - not least because the story itself sounds like a quantum leap ahead of the Afghanistan-based premise in the last Medal of Honor. Iím told that the plot is a collaborative effort, written by active U.S. Tier 1 Operators whilst on deployment and focusing on global terrorist activity. Missions are inspired by real-world events that you may have read in the newspaper or seen on TV, and are all threaded together by a worldwide narrative.

The demonstration showcased one of these international events: a rescue operation set in a disaster-stricken Basilan, Phillipines. The country has been hit with a typhoon and the streets are getting flooded fast - but amidst the chaos, local terrorist Abu Sayyaf has taken position in a stronghold and captured hostages in the process.

So begins a stage that puts the player inside a rather tall flooded building. Squadmates leap from cover to cover, taking out hostiles as they go, while the player tries to scale the heights of the stronghold. A lot of curious vertical-based firefighting takes place here, as enemies look down from balconies and cover access to stairs. At one point, your character get blown back by an explosion - someoneís gone and set the building on fire to hold off your advances. Naturally, it doesnít work for long.

Thereís some nice effects from DICEís Frostbite 2 engine - the lighting of the room is impressive, and wooden pillars can be easily ripped apart by enemy fire to keep you on your toes - but itís nothing I havenít seen before. Even the pacing of the level itself follows a formula that doesnít make me believe that Medal of Honor: Warfighter is its own entity.

One interesting gameplay mechanic was presented, in the form of a door breach system. When the squad reached the top of the building, a menu appeared which allowed the player to choose exactly how they want to tackle the situation on the other side of the door. Apparently, various outcomes will occur depending on what you tell your soldiers to do and how to approach things.

After a slow-motion hostage rescue, the stage switches from an on-foot operation to the now-obligatory vehicle segment. This time, your squad hops on some gun-mounted hovercraft and blast their way to the rendezvous point. The city around them is getting drowned, and buildings are collapsing into the water around you. After taking out bad guys dotted around rooftops, the boats were attached to helicopters and whisked away for a job well done.

While itís all very nice, itís also incredibly underwhelming in its predictability. Medal of Honor: Warfighter sounds like a noble effort in terms of story, and has a great deal of authenticity going for it thanks to the involvement of many Tier 1 Operatives, but Iím really hoping Danger Close is teasing us and just showed the basics here, because I can see history repeating itself for the Medal of Honor franchise.

Thereís still some time left before its October 2012 release though. Fingers crossed.

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