Previews// Medal of Honor: Warfighter

Posted 4 Oct 2012 14:18 by
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Medal of Honor: Warfighter is all about a bunch of soldier men running around shooting bullets out of guns at terrorist men. You’re wrong! There’s a level where you can chase terrorist men around in off-road vehicles too! And do you know what? A ruddy exciting time it is, too.

The stage, titled Hot Pursuit (get it?), is set in the early stages of the game’s campaign mode, and is a rather exhilarating display of how Danger Close is trying to include substantial gameplay experiences that break up the core shooting elements.

Sure, one-level gimmicks like this have existed in competing titles such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, but largely in the form of yawnsome sequences - like sleepily targeting enemies from inside a helicopter and sloooowly blowing them up. I’d rather watch paint dry.

Here, you’re desperately trying to catch a guy in an unwieldy off-roader in the middle of a bustling Pakistani city - Karachi - which is full of narrow roads, open markets and muddy terrain. Crashing through boxes, chickens smashing into your windscreen and slippery back alleys are just some of the things you experience as you attempt to reach the target as quickly as possible.

But what’s the story? Why are you chasing a random man in a jeep in less-than-optimum conditions? Well, throughout the game you play as a number of elite soldiers from around the world. As an international incident begins to play out, you experience the modern terrorist threat from the viewpoint of multiple nationalities. One particular squad is sitting in Karachi, awaiting to get a lead on a terrorist who they suspect is behind an illegal shipment of explosives.

An arranged meeting comes to an abrupt end when one of the leads they have is killed before the squad even get a chance to act. Their only clue now lies in a mysterious chap who has driven away from the scene - assumedly, this is the guy who fired the gun. The whole cutscene lasts for a few seconds, but as soon as the lead is killed everything goes at a hundred miles an hour. Multiple squadmates yell their confusion through your comms piece and think on their feet for a solution - while your job, as a soldier in a nearby jeep, immediately changes from watch to pursuit.

The name of the stage is more than just a throwaway reference to EA’s Need for Speed games - the publisher has revealed that its in-house NFS team actually worked on this level in particular (not Criterion, before you get too excited). The result? Pretty positive. The main reason why the NFS team was drafted in for this segment of the game was to create an authentic experience in terms of driving physics and mechanics - and the Hot Pursuit stage certainly accomplishes that.

Particularly entertaining about this stage is the accessibility of it all. Even though a racing studio developed this, things have been kept incredibly simple in terms of controls. All you need are the two triggers (for gas and brake) and the left analogue stick to steer. There are no chicanes, tuning, handbrakes or any of that stuff to worry about - leaving you to focus on gently careening around muddy corners and avoiding chickens to bash into your target.

Ultimately, Danger Close seems to have nailed this little thing called ‘immersion’. This level, summed up in one word, is immersive. And, given my less-than-enthusiastic initial preview of a hands-off section of the game, I’m surprised as to just how much this one segment had me on the edge of my seat. If it’s a shape of things to come for the rest of the game, then perhaps Danger Close can dramatically improve on the disappointing 2010 Medal of Honor after all.

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