Medal of Honor: Warfighter is a game that needs no introduction. Not just because it is a sequel, but because it is a modern military shooter released during a time when the genre has reached its apex.
For those that didn't play Danger Close Games' first Medal of Honor title, the only thing worth knowing is that this revitalization of the franchise falls somewhere in between Call of Duty's overreliance on bombastic action sequences and Battlefield's attention to detail and realism. It wasn't an overwhelming success, but apparently it was successful enough that Electronic Arts greenlit a sequel.
Medal of Honor: Warfighter's story, while much more streamlined than some of the military shooters out there, is still relatively haphazard in its construction. At any given moment players can be asked to complete a series of different tasks — storming a freighter, sniping some targets, and then operating a helicopter turret during extraction — but there's little to no explanation as to the importance of completing each mission or objective. Moreover, an overabundance of flashbacks further complicate the narrative, and keep some of the storytelling's true accomplishments from shining through.
Contrary to what its explosion-filled marketing will tell gamers, Warfighter is one of the few military shooters that puts a name and a face on its playable soldiers, and shows players the toll this profession can take on a person. As gamers learn more and more about "Preacher," one of two playable characters in the game, they will come to understand the impact wartime conflicts have - not just on the person but on their family.
There are some moments of genuine emotion in the game, moments that would have struck a near perfect chord had most of those scenes not played out as pre-rendered cutscenes. Instead, some really poor CG, for the female characters especially, make scenes that should have been poignant and heartfelt look goofy. Humanizing Warfighter's characters, as well as basing its missions on true events, further feeds into the games's much hyped authenticity, but a lack of moment-to-moment focus keeps the interconnected narratives from coming together in an impactful way.
Gameplay follows in a similar suit: it has some unique touches but is ultimately very forgettable. The presence of DICE's Frostbite Engine keeps the game looking slick the whole way through, but beneath that glossy veneer is a run-of-the-mill FPS. Medal of Honor does a passable job at mimicking its competition's sense of place and scale, but uninventive level design and terrible enemy AI turn it into a below-average shooter.
Enemies in Warfighter will typically remain in the same position, react to no amount of cover destruction or explosions, and will pop out every now and again to get a few shots off. As a result, many of Warfighter's levels come off as little more than interconnected shooting galleries, broken up only by slow motion breach sequences -- of which there are far too many -- or stagnant turret sequences. Yes, there are other franchises that deliver a similar experience, but here the scripted nature of the enemy encounters sticks out like a sore thumb.
Thankfully there are a few missions in the game that provide some much needed variety, and ask the player to do something a little different. Danger Close's most successful creations are the game's two vehicle-based missions, which strip the player of any conventional weapons and ask them to simply drive. The second mission in particular is a real standout, as it plays almost like a game of cat-and-mouse with cars. Though the driving missions too have their flaws, Danger Close should be commended for finding a clever way to break up the monotony.
While the 8-hour campaign can only occupy players for so long, Warfighter's multiplayer hopes to keep gamers entertained well into next year. All of the usual suspects -- a wealth of modes, dozens of unlocks, and a decent selection of levels -- are there, as is a clever buddy system that rewards teamwork, but ultimately the multiplayer doesn't do enough to make itself stand out.
In addition, the multiplayer suffers from some fundamental problems like poor hit detection and an abundance of spawn campers, but those are issues that could presumably be fixed in a patch. It's not the revelation that Modern Warfare or Battlefield 3 were in terms of multiplayer innovation, but gamers looking for a halfway decent stop gap between the next versions of those aforementioned franchises will find Warfighter fits the bill nicely.
Some intriguing missions and impressive visuals could have helped Warfighter stake its claim on the modern military shooter market, but instead a very rote core gameplay keeps the title down. In many places the game is a glorified shooting gallery, funneling players from point to point and not challenging them or at the very least providing them with excitement. A worthwhile multiplayer offering could have redeemed a sub-par single player campaign, but unfortunately that too is pretty standard fare.
Overall, Medal of Honor: Warfighter fails on too many fronts to be worth anything above a casual recommendation. Danger Close Games has improved upon the formula they established with the first Medal of Honor, but there are still far too many areas in need of attention.
Have you had a chance to check out Medal of Honor: Warfighter? Feel free to share your thoughts on the game in the comments below.
Medal of Honor: Warfighter is out now for PC, PS3, and Xbox 360. Game Rant played the Xbox 360 version for this review.
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