In the realm of modern day first-person shooters, the Medal of Honor franchise takes a backseat to genre juggernauts Call of Duty and Battlefield, at least as far as popularity and sales are concerned.  Emerging on the scene way back in 1999, years before either of its competitors, the first Medal of Honor title, along with the next eleven installments in the series, all took place in World War II.  Perhaps due to some inspiration from the direction of aforementioned titles, 2010 saw publisher EA Games reboot the franchise with a Medal of Honor game set in modern-day Afghanistan.  In spite of a generally favorable reception, many drew comparison to Call of Duty and fellow EA alumni Battlefield.

That assessment is perhaps the best summary of the 2010 effort.  In many ways, it resembled a Battlefield game, but with the more arcade-like speed of a Call of Duty title.  Though it may have found a middle-ground between the two, it also rested in their shadows – easily overlooked by anyone wrestling with the dilemma of which FPS to play.  With two solid blockbuster franchises crowding the market, EA had to take additional measures to successfully reboot a series that had been dormant for three years.  To that end, they called on a Preacher.

Earlier this year, we were introduced to Preacher, a Tier 1 operative that made an appearance in the last game.  The trailer (above) hints at an intimate, more personal side of the modern war experience.  Investigating the life of a soldier after the guns have silenced is something not seen in other first-person shooter titles and definitely offers up the opportunity for a deeper, more personal single-player experience.  If developer Danger Close is able to incorporate a complex narrative that examines such issues, it will no doubt serve to set Warfighter apart from the thinly veiled stories of other military shooters.

Warfighter follows Preacher and a fellow Tier 1 operative, codenamed Stump, on a variety of missions in search of a new terrorist weapon known as PETN.  Players will take on the roles of these two characters during combat, while cutscenes between missions tell the story of Preacher’s home life, including his relationship with his wife and daughter.  A timeline plays out over the course of the game, at first introducing missions that take place months before the present day cinematics, then moving the combat missions forward and dropping the cutscenes into the past as flashbacks.  This dynamic timeframe, coupled with the alternating roles, serves to present the events at home and on the battlefield and their relationship to one another.

While the inclusion of the personal narrative may be new to the Medal of Honor franchise, the backbone of the game still lies in the combat.  The scope of the conflict in Warfighter is far greater than that of its predecessor.   The missions occur in locations all over the world, in places like Somalia, Pakistan, and the Philippines, and many are based on actual military operations.  The tasks and objectives are as varied as the locales, tasking players with stealth insertions, providing aerial overwatch, long range sniping, and even high-speed vehicle chases.  Though the diversity of the operations keeps things from getting stale and works well with the game’s pacing, there’s nothing here we haven’t already seen before in a Call of Duty game.

Even though other military shooters have taken us to foreign lands and placed us in the midst of heated firefights, few have done so with this level of execution and polish.  The battles found in Warfighter are genuinely frenzied affairs that quickly educate players to take cover and stay aware – or die.  The level design allows for enemies to flank and offers them a freedom of verticality that can be tactically troublesome for the player.  Though the levels are very linear, the progression through them still feels very natural, never giving the sense that the player is being funneled to the next event.

Aside from the fact that the levels are designed in a complex and intriguing fashion, they are also absolutely gorgeous.  Warfighter employs the Frostbite 2 engine – the same one used to power Battlefield 3  and the results are impressive.  One of the best examples I noted during my playthroughs was during a section of a mission in which I was tasked with investigating a bombed out structure.  Once inside, I momentarily disregarded my orders so that I could marvel at the interior.  The interplay of shadows and sunlight peeking through various holes in the structure was striking, as was the dynamic light being emitted from the numerous fires that were burning.  I saw all of this through a thin veil of dust and smoke, rendered beautifully with the game’s particle effects.  Character models are equally impressive.  The level of detail seen in the faces, including pores, stubble, and scars, add an element of realism to these individuals.  This plays into the more personal, emotional side of Warfighter by making these characters more believable.

Adding yet another layer to the already impressive presentation is the exceptional sound design.  In Warfighter, the battlefield is alive with the sounds of gunfire, explosions, and the general cacophony one would expect.  The rumble of off-shore artillery was satisfyingly bassy, shaking the walls of my living room almost as much as the sound of the shells crashing into the target I had just marked.  There is an appropriately noticeable contrast between the voice-acting heard during combat and that heard during the narrative cinematics.  Soldiers scream orders over the din of the battlefield, while a husband pleads with his wife in an attempt to repair his damaged marriage.  These two instances warrant far different, but equally urgent deliveries and Warfighter provides both.  Composer Ramin Djawadi returns for the second installment of the Medal of Honor reboot and his score injects a further sense of drama and emotion into the mix.

All of the aforementioned elements combine to create an over-the-top military shooter gameplay experience that has no equal.  If Call of Duty’s explosive set pieces were considered to be the pinnacle of blockbuster-style action in a video game, then Warfighter has set a new standard.  In fact, I can say with full confidence that this game contains the most insane car chase sequence I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing.  This level of intensity would be a bit overwhelming if not for the game’s excellent pacing.  When the action gets a little overheated, players are given just enough time to catch their breath before being thrust back into the fight.  While in the midst of these frenetic firefights, it’s fortunate that the controls for movement and gunplay are precise and intuitive.  That description extends to the driving controls as well, which is a somewhat rare find in a military first-person shooter – especially when unexpectedly driving a high-speed sports car.

Though the action may get heated, you’re never left to complete your objectives alone, embarking on each mission with your fellow Tier 1 operatives at your side.  The friendly AI is surprisingly helpful.  Not only are they able to hold their own and actually kill an enemy or two, but they will bark out battlefield observations.  During some of the more hectic battles, a squadmate’s warning about flanking enemies was the only thing the prevented an imminent checkpoint restart.

While Warfighter doesn’t necessarily bring any new gameplay features to the table, what it does present has been polished to a high shine.  With that in mind, I was surprised to see the promised destructible environments reduced to mere cosmetic damage.  There are some instances when a bullet will destroy an object, such as when shooting at an enemy taking cover behind a wooden pallet, but it is not the significant gameplay feature that the Frostbite 2 engine can deliver.  I expect to be able to kill enemies through doors and blow down entire walls with explosives.  Considering the types of destructible environments we’ve seen from this engine in Battlefield 3, it was a disappointment to see that this feature was not fully implemented in Warfighter.  

Without a doubt, Warfighter’s greatest shortcoming is found in the length of its campaign.  My playthrough on Normal difficulty clocked in at 6 hours.  Naturally, EA Games and Danger Close will be relying on the multiplayer features to entice gamers as well.  While we here at OnlySP are obviously a bit biased when it comes to the issue of sacrificing single-player content for the inclusion of multiplayer, Warfighter undeniably fell short of its potential due to the abbreviated campaign.  Including the personal story of a soldier’s home life was a novel concept, but the whole narrative takes a backseat to the combat up until the later missions.  While the story does provide a nice sense of closure, it still feels incomplete.  Perhaps instead of picking up the narrative after the soldier’s marriage has already failed, the story could have been lengthened to include the degradation of the relationship.  With the fashion in which Preacher’s story was touted as setting Warfighter apart from its competitors, I expected more of a commitment to the narrative.

Regardless, the game ends with an emotional scene between some of the characters, as well as a touching tribute to the real life soldiers who have dedicated their lives to protecting our freedoms.  I have to give EA Games and Danger Close credit for finding the delicate balance between honoring our troops and building an over-the-top military shooter that is still entertaining.  Making the game fun, but still maintaining a certain level of respect for the real life troops, had to be a challenge.

An equally daunting challenge is their attempt to take on a first-person military shooter genre that is already being shared by two huge franchises.  Will Warfighter actually steal any significant portion of players from either Battlefield or Call of Duty?  Most likely not.  However, they have made steps to differentiate their product from others on the market.  In the process, they have made a frustratingly flawed gem.  There is so much to like about Medal of Honor: Warfighter, but the size of the single-player campaign is too significant to ignore.  A good game should leave you wanting more because the experience was so exceptional, not because it left you half-full.  Unfortunately, i’m still hungry and the kitchen is closed…

 

ONLY SINGLE PLAYER SCORE

Story – 7/10

Gameplay/Design – 8/10

Visuals – 9/10

Sound – 9/10

Lasting Appeal – 5/10

___________________________

Overall – 7/10

 

Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC (Reviewed for XBox 360)

Developer: Danger Close

Publisher: EA Games

Ratings: Mature (ESRB), 18+ (PEGI)

 

Will Blackwell
I'm a new dad, gaming machine, and beard aficionado. With a little one in the house, I've come to embrace the single-player experience, as it is much less likely to send me into a profanity-laced, controller-throwing tantrum. Writing and video games are two of my greatest passions, so this is a natural fit for me. As long as it doesn't require me to perform coordinated dance moves in front of my Kinect, i'm willing to pen my thoughts on it. Aside from gaming, I love music (Smashing Pumpkins), coffee (Red-Eye), and sushi (Yellowtail). All offerings of my aforementioned favorites will be accepted with open arms and, if you're lucky, i'll let you touch my beard. Just don't pull on it. That hurts.

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22 Comments

  1. I&#039m so pissed off that these company&#039s ea danger close think that a 6 hour campaign is good!! I&#039d be happy with 8 and a half 9 hours they said in an interview beginning of the year sayi.h that the campaign would be longer.. it&#039s maybe 30 mins longer than medal 2010. I&#039ll wait till it drops in price to buy but I do love the look of the game but I don&#039t have internet so a 6 hour play through for 40 pounds is carp.

    1. That seems to be the consensus from most gamers I have spoken with about Warfighter. I really feels like they missed a huge opportunity, because so many pieces are in place for a great FPS title. Instead, those elements are overshadowed by the length of the campaign.

  2. Six hours? That&#039s too bad b/c it sounds good. Story was a neat idea too. Never gonna beat COD this way.

  3. I'm so pissed off that these company's ea danger close think that a 6 hour campaign is good!! I'd be happy with 8 and a half 9 hours they said in an interview beginning of the year sayi.h that the campaign would be longer.. it's maybe 30 mins longer than medal 2010. I'll wait till it drops in price to buy but I do love the look of the game but I don't have internet so a 6 hour play through for 40 pounds is carp.

    1. That seems to be the consensus from most gamers I have spoken with about Warfighter. I really feels like they missed a huge opportunity, because so many pieces are in place for a great FPS title. Instead, those elements are overshadowed by the length of the campaign.

  4. Six hours? That's too bad b/c it sounds good. Story was a neat idea too. Never gonna beat COD this way.

  5. I hardly ever finish campains these days, I couldn&#039t care less. I be cool if they dovoted all resource to multiplayer and stop making campains.

    1. A lot of people on this site won&#039t agree with you. ;)

    2. I can&#039t say that I agree with you, but maybe the games you play should have more engaging campaigns. If you&#039re into FPS games, then I can see why you have a hard time sticking with them. At least Warfighter won&#039t require much of a time commitment for the campaign. :)

  6. I hardly ever finish campains these days, I couldn't care less. I be cool if they dovoted all resource to multiplayer and stop making campains.

    1. A lot of people on this site won't agree with you. ;)

    2. I can't say that I agree with you, but maybe the games you play should have more engaging campaigns. If you're into FPS games, then I can see why you have a hard time sticking with them. At least Warfighter won't require much of a time commitment for the campaign. :)

  7. That guy had no idea that what will happen if single player component of this game is dropped.If we go back to past Medal of honor frontline sold 6 million copies without the mutiplayer component in it.come on why people are underestimating single player component of games .Medal of honor 2010 had awesome single player campain.I bet that if EA would try to drop single player game component in their games then sales go expect battlefield 3.Because Battlefield 3 was completely focusing on mutiplayer but people want single player mode in medal of honor.

  8. That guy had no idea that what will happen if single player component of this game is dropped.If we go back to past Medal of honor frontline sold 6 million copies without the mutiplayer component in it.come on why people are underestimating single player component of games .Medal of honor 2010 had awesome single player campain.I bet that if EA would try to drop single player game component in their games then sales go expect battlefield 3.Because Battlefield 3 was completely focusing on mutiplayer but people want single player mode in medal of honor.

  9. hi i am not new to gaming in medal of honor war fighter single player mode i can only play normal or easy how can i change it to hard or tier 1 i have tried can not figure it out can you help me out

    thank you stalkingwolf44

    1. Hard mode is unlocked from the beginning, but you can&#039t change up the difficulty without restarting the campaign. Hardcore and Tier 1 modes are unlocked after you beat it on Hard. Hope that helps.

  10. hi i am not new to gaming in medal of honor war fighter single player mode i can only play normal or easy how can i change it to hard or tier 1 i have tried can not figure it out can you help me out

    thank you stalkingwolf44

    1. Hard mode is unlocked from the beginning, but you can't change up the difficulty without restarting the campaign. Hardcore and Tier 1 modes are unlocked after you beat it on Hard. Hope that helps.

  11. This game have a similar concept with COD but I think these games focus on mission which need to destroy terrorism and a also a full action pack game.

    1. You might as well have stated "I am spamming. Visit my site."

  12. This game have a similar concept with COD but I think these games focus on mission which need to destroy terrorism and a also a full action pack game.

    1. You might as well have stated "I am spamming. Visit my site."

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