Medal of Honor: Warfighter

Oh Medal of Honor: Warfighter, what am I going to do with you? I had such high hopes of the time we would spend together. Ever since I laid my hands upon you at E3 this year, I’ve been fluttering my eyelashes at you from afar.

But now that I’ve spent time alone with you, caressed you, tried to tease open your secrets, I just, I just don’t feel happy. I feel... I feel dirty. And unsatisfied.

 
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Developer Danger Close’s second installment in the Medal of Honor reboot was supposed to be a step up from the first. It was supposed to bring gamers back to the realistic world of war, where the action was intense, and the fighting was fast.

It does none of those things. In fact, it does precisely the opposite. This game is a step backward. It is a mistaken blot of a title. It is so fist-clenchingly frustrating that it makes me angry. But my anger has quickly slunk into sadness, making me ponder whether I should give up on the entire franchise.

That’s a big call. Medal of Honor and I go way back. We grew up together. But if this is the best Danger Close have to offer, well, maybe its time to end the affair.

Warfighter’s biggest and most immediate problem is its complete lack of depth and narrative. You play in the shoes of a jarhead called “Preacher”. He might be from the first game, but I’m not sure. I really can’t remember. In any event the title makes no attempt to link the game to the background and history of its forebear. Preacher is chaperoned around various hotspots by “Mother”, the ubiquitous bearded special forces soldier with a cricket umpires cap and a Captain Price beard. As far as I could tell, that’s it. There is literally nothing new to see here.

Both Preacher and Mother appear to be dude-bros so tight, they think nothing of shacking up together in hot and heavy hotspots around the world — from Somalia to the Philippines. These environments look nice, and you can blow them to smithereens with lots of high-tech, and ultimately familiar weaponry. But you’d hardly know why — and that a good game does not make.

Throughout the confusion, Preacher and Mother have got each other’s back. Sure, theres lots of hoo-ah, roger-niner, check your six, and eyes on me, but as to what they are doing in all these places, and why you the player should care, I couldn’t tell you. Because the game never tells me.

Maybe it’s something to do with Islamic insurgents, train bombs, international terrorism, and tired racist stereotypes about Middle-Eastern otherness. Or I could be confusing its narrative set up with a thousand other military shooters pumped on the juiced-up high of American exceptionalism. Or, maybe there’s no need for conjecture. Because it's both of those things.

Sure, there are quieter moments. Moments where Danger Close has tried to show its soft side. But the cut scenes where Preacher wrestles with both his conscience and his loved ones only come across as forced and contrived. And they are as poorly animated as they are acted. Part of that’s down to empty writing. In an early scene Preacher’s wife intones “why won’t you let me in” before Preacher hangs the phone up on her. Let her in to what? His cliched war-ravaged psyche? His battles with post-traumatic stress disorder? The mind boggles. By keeping us out of that stultifying experience Preacher is probably doing us a favour.

We’ve all played games where the story, or lack thereof, gets a free pass. Pac-Man has no narrative, but I still race to it in retro arcades. Sometimes the story is just the fluff round the edges. For some titles, shooters especially, what really matters is the gameplay.

But here, too, the ugly visage of rushed production values and poor game design raises its oft seen head. As a game, Medal of Honor just doesn’t play well. Weapons appear to do both too little and too much damage, and the inconsistent emphasis on “military realism” results in a game where you can run full speed through waist high water - but where a bullet won't go through a plywood plank.

But even moments of promise, such as unlockable door-breach maneuvers, are overshadowed by problems. Fiddly controls (to lean, you need to perform finger-yoga by stabbing the shift, alt and D or A keys simultaneously) take you out of the experience. As do bizarre combat animations, such as when Mother takes the trigger of an M19 Grenade Launcher and begins firing it in the opposite direction to which he is aiming. But nothing beats being literally being taken out of the game because you’re forced to kill the executable when the title has frozen.

The frustrating game mechanics are not helped by poor level design. The maps are linear and formulaic. You are directed down avenues and paths, through hordes of spawning enemies, whose charges are triggered by your actions. It’s a turkey shoot. It’s a chore. Warfighter’s environments are also shamefully unrealistic. I should know, I’ve stood in Iran a stones throw from the valleys of Afghanistan. I’ve flown over Iraq. I’ve trained from Bulgaria to Serbia and back again. The places Medal of Honor takes you bear absolutely no resemblance. To be fair, it's a game, not a travel blog, but even the barest of research would have paid dividends.

None of this is helped by in-game guidance that is contradictory and confusing. As one level begins, we see Preacher quickly scoping his sniper rifle onto the head of a Somalian pirate. As the game zooms into his field of view, the hud tells you that taking the pirate out is your primary objective. But if you do, the game fails. Instead, Preacher must inexplicably wait (for 18 hours of game time no less) before he’s ready to pull the trigger. Why? I don’t know. I honestly have no idea. But I do know that it's a symptom of a game that hasn't been quality controlled.

Perhaps I’m missing the point to Warfighter. I’m reviewing this game as a realistic real world first person shooter, inspired by real events — as it boasts before each level.

But thats not right. I’ve got it wrong.

Its none of these things, its a Dali-esque fantasy, a surreal dreamscape where reality has been broken to mess with your mind. Danger Close have peered behind the veil and crafted a sensory overload of the horrors of war. Just kidding. That would have been cool, and a title worth playing.

Instead Medal of Honor is a formulaic experience that feels rushed, ill-thought out and hollow. Its gameplay is rote and its mechanic is derivative. To be frank, I’m tired of this. Shooter fans are not simply teenage consumers of asinine adventure. We deserve better.

Warfighter isn’t a break from reality. It’s just a broken game, and a massive disappointment.


Medal of Honor Warfighter
"Rushed, ill-thought out, and hollow."
- Medal of Honor Warfighter
4.4
Awful
 
Follow Own it? Rating: R16   Difficulty: Hard   Learning Curve: 15 Min


 

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Comments Comments (13)

 
Takuyafire
Posted by Takuyafire
On Tuesday 30 Oct 2012 4:22 PM
-
The multiplayer is worse...I say this because it crashed to desktop any time I tried to do anything.

It really isn't until the final scene in single player that you realise why you were fighting...before that it's just wanton murder in a foreign land.
 
 
 
KatalystaKaos NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by KatalystaKaos
On Tuesday 30 Oct 2012 5:04 PM
-
Why only 6 for graphics?
 
 
 
Takuyafire
Posted by Takuyafire
On Tuesday 30 Oct 2012 5:06 PM
4
30 October 2012, 05:04 PM Reply to KatalystaKaos
Why only 6 for graphics?
I can answer this:

Restricted environments, terrible facial animation, poor lighting choices, bad looking water...need I continue?
 
 
 
SpeediePetey NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by SpeediePetey
On Tuesday 30 Oct 2012 5:16 PM
2
I'd say this is a fair review. Although I found some things in the campaign to be mindlessly fun. Like the car chases. Although they dragged on for a little too long.
 
 
 
D_V_Trooper
Posted by D_V_Trooper
On Tuesday 30 Oct 2012 6:15 PM
1
Got this game for fairly cheap digitally from the UK, but still regretting my purchase. The multiplayer is OK I guess, but I am kind of getting sick of modern day shooters. Maybe Black Ops 2 will change the formula enough to make shooters interesting again.
 
 
 
AudaciousGnome NZGamer.com VIP VIP Silver
Posted by AudaciousGnome
On Tuesday 30 Oct 2012 7:23 PM
2
A real disappointment. Wish they would forget about MOH and just concentrate fully on BF!
 
 
 
ssjroneel NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by ssjroneel
On Tuesday 30 Oct 2012 10:08 PM
1
The developer listed to the side is DICE, but wasn't this made by Danger Close?
 
 
 
phantom
Posted by phantom
On Wednesday 31 Oct 2012 7:23 AM
-
30 October 2012, 10:08 PM Reply to ssjroneel
The developer listed to the side is DICE, but wasn't this made by Danger Close?
It was indeed! Thanks for spotting that; corrected.
 
 
 
KatalystaKaos NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by KatalystaKaos
On Wednesday 31 Oct 2012 11:25 AM
-
Danger Close to being fired, Vader voice "E(vil)A is not as forgiving as I am"
 
 
 
Axe99
Posted by Axe99
On Thursday 1 Nov 2012 7:26 PM
-
I've only played this on PS3, but I really enjoyed it. I had absolutely no trouble following the story or the characters, and that made a huge difference (I've got a deep interest in world affairs and some interest in military things, which may have helped) - but the single-player story was very well explained, from my angle. I'm a little bemused so many reviewers seemed to struggle with it (not least as I played the game with a killer flu, so was hardly at my best).

Also - the environments weren't realistic? So, you've been in the Phillipines during a hurricane? In Pakistani slums? I've seen pictures of Pakistan on the news, and they looked a whole lot like the MoH levels set there. Similarly, the level set in former Yugoslavia looked appropriately ex-Yugoslav as well. Don't forget Sarajevo is in Bosnia, not Serbia (although clearly the civil-war era Serbs would have preferred this not to be the case). Hell, the level in Dubai looked like what I've seen of it on the news. It definitely didn't look markedly different.

The game is also (at least not on PS3) broken - it works, and it works well in most cases. MP is enjoyable, SP enjoyable if with the odd but not game-breaking glitch. I'm well aware games are generally more glitchy on PC, but that's a PC issue (I'm a regular PC gamer as well), not something that should be used to mark down MoH:Warfighter.

That's not to say it doesn't have its issues - the AI is bog-standard, and can't match the likes of a Killzone or an Uncharted (although it's got the edge on the AI in ArmA 2 and the Op Flashes, noting that it has to cope with a whole lot less) - but bog standard isn't a fail, unless CoD gets failed as well.

Of course, this is your opinion, and if the game's story went above or below you, then that's your experience and how you should review it. But to call it broken when it still works, and to call it formulaic when it does things other games don't (how many other shooters show you the protagonists with their wives, and their friends wives - go on, list 'em all - obviously there'll be a stack, because it's so formulaic). Speaking of that, how many of them give you car and boat-driving missions. And a car stealth mission, no less. But yeah, _completely_ formulaic. Absolutely by-the-numbers.

And when you say about games speaking to teenagers, I've found it's the teenagers that are least likely to 'get' MoH, and the older folk (I'm well into my 30s) that appreciate it. MoH is far more grounded than your average Hollywood shoot-fest (CoD, Gears, etc;), or your contrived drama (Spec Ops: The Line, with all the dramatic tropes down to the edgy DJ, lol) - but gamers these days seem to struggle unless it'a a the latest gaming equivalent of a Michael Bay Movie, or a contrived, Hurt-Locker style 'military' experience. Hell, MoH isn't near as grounded as I'd like (the 2010 MoH was better), but then MoH:W tries to move towards what all the ADHD gamers want, and it still gets slammed for its grounded elements. Maybe we have all been gaming too long, and need to spend a bit more time in reality, to appreciate our games a little better?
 
 
 
Ranger NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by Ranger
On Friday 2 Nov 2012 9:16 PM
-
I was so looking forward to playing MOH Warfighter (PC version), as the previous version of MOH was awesome! When I played Warfighter at Armageddon recently it looked different and played different, but in a bad way.

The graphics were like animated, not the crisp characters you see in games like BF3 or the last MOH, they moved clumsy like, drifting from side to side.

The maps are not bad, small, which means more action, but again nothing to flash.

The game just looks old, the ways it's designed. Definitely not what Danger Close are capable of.

The previous MOH has great features like mortar strike and all those other score chain goodies, and the new version does too, but again they are not delivered is a polished way.

The UI is awful, it looks dated and when you're in the social mode, I couldn't find a way to switch out of that mode, and yes I pressed 'ESC'.

There was no way to swap sides during a game, so on one map we had 10 vs. 1, and there was no team balancing.

The game crashed at least 4 times and had to reboot in all circ*mstances.

Danger Close have destroyed this legendary title this time around. It's hard to believe that both MOH and BF3 use the same gaming engine, the games are poles apart. BF3 is so tidy as a game.

Luckily I didn't pay $100 for MOH, $50 from an off shore site, because I would have been ripped off! I feel ripped off now as it is.

The rating given by NZ Gamer was accurate and the write up on the money.

Whoever Danger close used as their testers should be fired, if they give this game the thumbs up and it looks like they fedback exactly what Danger Close wanted to hear, then those game testers were not honest about the really experience. It's awful!

This can be a much better game that it is, and I just hope that EA tries to revive this game, because the servers are empty for a reason. Games never forget bad titles and I'm sad to say that this will be one of those.
 
 
 
Axe99
Posted by Axe99
On Sunday 4 Nov 2012 10:39 AM
-
2 November 2012, 09:16 PM Reply to Ranger
I was so looking forward to playing MOH Warfighter (PC version), as the previous version of MOH was awesome! When I played Warfighter at Armageddon recently it looked different and played different, but in a bad way.

The graphics were like animated, not the crisp characters you see in games like BF3 or the last MOH, they moved clumsy like, drifting from side to side.

The maps are not bad, small, which means more action, but again nothing to flash.

The game just looks old, the ways it's designed. Definitely not what Danger Close are capable of.

The previous MOH has great features like mortar strike and all those other score chain goodies, and the new version does too, but again they are not delivered is a polished way.

The UI is awful, it looks dated and when you're in the social mode, I couldn't find a way to switch out of that mode, and yes I pressed 'ESC'.

There was no way to swap sides during a game, so on one map we had 10 vs. 1, and there was no team balancing.

The game crashed at least 4 times and had to reboot in all circ*mstances.

Danger Close have destroyed this legendary title this time around. It's hard to believe that both MOH and BF3 use the same gaming engine, the games are poles apart. BF3 is so tidy as a game.

Luckily I didn't pay $100 for MOH, $50 from an off shore site, because I would have been ripped off! I feel ripped off now as it is.

The rating given by NZ Gamer was accurate and the write up on the money.

Whoever Danger close used as their testers should be fired, if they give this game the thumbs up and it looks like they fedback exactly what Danger Close wanted to hear, then those game testers were not honest about the really experience. It's awful!

This can be a much better game that it is, and I just hope that EA tries to revive this game, because the servers are empty for a reason. Games never forget bad titles and I'm sad to say that this will be one of those.
It sounds like the PC version got treated pretty badly then - the PS3 version plays fine, and is in many ways (but not all) a step up from the original MoH. Commiserations.
 
 
 
Leachy1983
Posted by Leachy1983
On Sunday 4 Nov 2012 4:52 PM
-
1 November 2012, 07:26 PM Reply to Axe99
I've only played this on PS3, but I really enjoyed it. I had absolutely no trouble following the story or the characters, and that made a huge difference (I've got a deep interest in world affairs and some interest in military things, which may have helped) - but the single-player story was very well explained, from my angle. I'm a little bemused so many reviewers seemed to struggle with it (not least as I played the game with a killer flu, so was hardly at my best).

Also - the environments weren't realistic? So, you've been in the Phillipines during a hurricane? In Pakistani slums? I've seen pictures of Pakistan on the news, and they looked a whole lot like the MoH levels set there. Similarly, the level set in former Yugoslavia looked appropriately ex-Yugoslav as well. Don't forget Sarajevo is in Bosnia, not Serbia (although clearly the civil-war era Serbs would have preferred this not to be the case). Hell, the level in Dubai looked like what I've seen of it on the news. It definitely didn't look markedly different.

The game is also (at least not on PS3) broken - it works, and it works well in most cases. MP is enjoyable, SP enjoyable if with the odd but not game-breaking glitch. I'm well aware games are generally more glitchy on PC, but that's a PC issue (I'm a regular PC gamer as well), not something that should be used to mark down MoH:Warfighter.

That's not to say it doesn't have its issues - the AI is bog-standard, and can't match the likes of a Killzone or an Uncharted (although it's got the edge on the AI in ArmA 2 and the Op Flashes, noting that it has to cope with a whole lot less) - but bog standard isn't a fail, unless CoD gets failed as well.

Of course, this is your opinion, and if the game's story went above or below you, then that's your experience and how you should review it. But to call it broken when it still works, and to call it formulaic when it does things other games don't (how many other shooters show you the protagonists with their wives, and their friends wives - go on, list 'em all - obviously there'll be a stack, because it's so formulaic). Speaking of that, how many of them give you car and boat-driving missions. And a car stealth mission, no less. But yeah, _completely_ formulaic. Absolutely by-the-numbers.

And when you say about games speaking to teenagers, I've found it's the teenagers that are least likely to 'get' MoH, and the older folk (I'm well into my 30s) that appreciate it. MoH is far more grounded than your average Hollywood shoot-fest (CoD, Gears, etc;), or your contrived drama (Spec Ops: The Line, with all the dramatic tropes down to the edgy DJ, lol) - but gamers these days seem to struggle unless it'a a the latest gaming equivalent of a Michael Bay Movie, or a contrived, Hurt-Locker style 'military' experience. Hell, MoH isn't near as grounded as I'd like (the 2010 MoH was better), but then MoH:W tries to move towards what all the ADHD gamers want, and it still gets slammed for its grounded elements. Maybe we have all been gaming too long, and need to spend a bit more time in reality, to appreciate our games a little better?
Damn, thats the biggest comment ive ever seen here lol