Back in 2010, Danger Close Games released a reboot on the Medal of Honor franchise by moving from the overused and outdated WW2 setting and focusing on the ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and the Middle East. Danger Close worked towards making Medal of Honor more up-to-date and lifelike and for the most part, it accomplished what it set out to do. Not only did they focus on battles based in real-life locations, but also they focused on real-life Special Forces groups like the Army Rangers and Tier 1 operatives and the weapons they use in battle. Labeling itself as an “authentic shooter,” it was still very much an “arcade shooter” at its core, with regenerating health and plenty of Michael Bay set pieces and explosions. However, Danger Close did place great focus on the real-life soldiers, the real-life weapons and the real-life locations that they fight in. The game received mixed reviews, but is still regarded among its most dedicated players as one of the finest campaigns in the modern military shooter genre.
Medal of Honor: Warfighter is a direct sequel and picks up where the events of Medal of Honor left off. The game finds Preacher, our hero from the previous MoH, returning home to find his family torn apart after years of dangerous deployment and the hardships of keeping secrets of his job from his wife and child. As he prepares to leave the life of a Tier 1 operative behind for the good of his family, he’s set to meet up with his family in Madrid to start repairing what has been torn apart by living and working this type of lifestyle. As he waits for their train to arrive, a suicide bomber blows up the train his wife and child were meant to be on, putting Preacher in the hospital and pitting the Tier 1 operatives back in the fight against a hostile enemy determined to destroy the most important things in Preachers life: his country and family.
The actual campaign is based on and inspired by real events and the missions were actually written by Tier 1 operatives themselves. You may recognize many of the missions you’ll encounter in the game from high-profile stories pulled straight from CNN and many other news stories. Along with the standard ground missions, you’ll find other missions ranging from rescuing hostages and escaping a flooded city via heavily armored CRRC’s (Combat Rubber Raiding Crafts) to chasing down terrorists via intense, if not a little scripted, car chases amidst busy village streets crowded with traffic, pedestrians and debris.
The story in MoH: Warfighter does tend to jump around a bit more this time than the prior title. More similar to what the Call of Duty series has been doing with their storylines recently, the jumping around between flashbacks and present day might be a bit jarring to those new to the series. Other than the jumping around in the story, the single-player campaign is pretty much standard fare for today’s modern first person shooter titles. Although it’s pretty much the same combination of running, gunning and shooting, MoH: Warfighter does introduce a few new mechanics to the game play that really surprised me and increased my enjoyment of the single-player game.
One of the first new mechanics you will notice involve the ability to lean out from cover, scout the area, take a shot and then lean back behind cover to reload your weapon. This is something that I feel has been missing from FPS titles for many years and just by mapping this easy function to a button press is amazingly enjoyable. It’s a little awkward at first getting used to being able to do this, but being able to pop in-and-out from behind cover without having to fully display yourself to the enemy is fantastic and constantly saves you from an unfortunate death due to fully popping out from behind cover to locate enemy positions.
Another cool function that Danger Close has added to MoH: Warfighter is that all of your semi-automatic guns that you can carry have two combat scopes. The standard scope is geared more towards close-quarter combat, but if you want to get close to the action and zoom in for sniping, a simple click of the right joystick will switch over to the more ranged zoom and you’ll be picking off enemy combatants with ease.
One more new feature that was a welcome surprise was the addition of some pretty decent driving sections. At a couple points in the game, you will wind up behind the wheel of a vehicle, putting the pedal to the medal and following a scripted route until a event happens and your driving time is over. Developed by the studio behind Need for Speed, the two car driving missions are well put together. While they don’t fit with the rest of the running, gunning and shooting aspects of the game, they’re so much better constructed than other parts of the game that I didn’t really care that there were only two driving sections.
While the driving is very well done in the game, let’s talk about something you’ll be doing more in this game than you probably ever will do again in any other game: door-breeching. It’s the craziest thing how much Warfighter adores door-breeching in this game. There’s even a progression-based minigame associated with door-breeching. Every time you breech a door (and you will do this a lot) you’ll have the opportunity to shoot insurgents on the other side of the door in the head while going into a Matrix-like slow-mo mode. If you shoot enough bad guys in the heard, you’ll unlock new, fancier ways to breech future doors as you progress. The craziest thing about all of this is that the various unlockable breeching methods are all slower and less effective than the simple “kick the door in” option you begin the game with. It really adds nothing to the game and does not benefit the player to use more than one or two animations more than once. It really is just an added animation to a mechanic that could have been a cool opportunity for some exciting, tense moments if only it had been give a little more time and thought.
Using the same Frostbite 2 graphics engine used in Battlefield 3, the game is remarkably detailed. From the lifelike CGI cut scenes, detailed weather and lighting effects and voice acting, Danger Close nailed the look and feel of the game. Whether it’s playing the single player campaign or teaming up with a friend for some multiplayer, I was constantly amazed at what they were able to pull off on the Xbox 360 with this graphics engine.
The biggest disappointment of the entire single player campaign is the very short runtime, however. On Normal mode you’ll likely see the roll of the credits at around 6-7 hours. Whether you’re planning on spending most of your time in multiplayer or not, the short campaign is just not good enough to carry this title. I like my shooters, but I’m so sick and tired of being able to finish the single player campaign in one weekend! I’m still a single player person at heart and really like to play the campaign before moving on to the multiplayer. I know this is the trend today with these high profile releases, but I’d still like to see the same amount of time spent on the multiplayer spent on the single player campaign.
Getting to the multiplayer, it appears to work well and is much more enjoyable than the campaign. It’s obvious that Danger Close spent the majority of their time, effort and resources on the multiplayer and thankfully, it doesn’t let us down. The best part of the multiplayer is undoubtedly the Fire Team mode. It basically combines cooperative elements with standard competitive combat, in which players will be joined at the start of a match to form what is called a Fire Team. When a member of your team dies, he will respawn near the other, they can refill each other’s ammo supply and most interesting of all, you have a vested interest in the welfare of your teammate. In a great way of encouraging teamwork, the better you work together, the more points and bonuses you earn. You literally earn what your partner earns and it’s really one of the better ways I’ve seen recently of encouraging teamwork in what typically is a chaotic, online mess in the multiplayer world. Of course, there isn’t much new beside the Fire Team mode, but that’s to be expected for the online portion.
Although the game does many things right with the graphics, audio and multiplayer, it’s to the point that if you’ve played any military shooters in the last few years, you’ve already done every single thing that you’ll encounter in MoH: Warfighter. While the graphics are pretty, the audio is crystal clear and the few new elements they’ve added to the game play are a step forward in the FPS genre, the game just doesn’t take enough steps forward to push it over the edge to be a great game. To be honest, I felt that just not doing enough to add to the game experience, MoH: Warfighter took a few steps back in its fight against its competitive brother, Call of Duty: Black Ops II.
In the end, it’s still a military shooter that resembles just about everything else out in the videogame world where you go to war and shoot guns. Is it worth your hard earned cash? Not at a full $60, it’s not. But, if you can find it at a decent deal during the holidays, you like military shooters and you really enjoy some decent multiplayer, then I’d say go for it. If you don’t fit any of what I just listed, then I’d recommend you steer clear of this military shooter.
A copy of Medal of Honor: Warfighter for Xbox 360 was provided to us for this review by Danger Close Games and EA.