I’m torn on this, because Medal of Honor: Warfighter is very good at what it does, but I don’t particularly like what it does.
I can understand why military shooters have such a huge fandom, but Warfighter, while a solid first person shooter, tends to emphasize the limits of the genre. Even Call of Duty is throwing a whole zombie campaign and “near future” weapons at us in a month, and when Activision is clearly beginning to believe a formula is tired, you know there’s a problem.
And that’s really the most damning thing I can say about Warfighter, as a game: It’s unoriginal. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t some fun to be had here.
If you’ve seen the trailers, you’ve played the game, essentially. There’s nothing new here in terms of gameplay, at least in the single-player. I will say that Danger Close does a good job with the campaign; everything is clear, cogent, and sensible. I usually find the single-player in games like this to be a painful slog, but here it’s generally fairly zippy mindless fun. A mission in Pakistan in particular has a fun Need for Speed feel to it, likely because Criterion helped with the mission.
The enemy AI is pretty stupid, but there are lots of them, so it gives the game an amusingly arcadey feel, helped along by an excellently designed aiming system and a purely cosmetic “breach” system. I suppose different choices in “breach” means the scenario played out in different ways, but it’s not very noticeable to be honest. I doubt the arcadey tone is deliberate, what with the lectures about armaments and bullet drop, but it’s fun nonetheless.
The Frostbite 2 engine makes everything very pretty, although it must be said the game itself is fairly drab in terms of color. It’s also brief: seven hours is not a lot of game time for your money.
The writing, while it’s not going to bag any awards, is at least not actively insulting the player’s intelligence or dumbing down history or modern geopolitics too much, although the game is understandably lacking in geopolitical context. It’s an airport paperback, in that respect, and the stabs at characterization, while heartfelt, are a bit cliche. It’s hard to care much about Preacher’s martial troubles because, really, the guy’s just another set of pants to wear. He shoots people and has trouble with his wife… and that’s all we know or care about him.
The multiplayer has a few good ideas: Instead of huge squads you’re in a two-man fire team, which turns out to be a lot more engaging than it sounds. The class unlocks are annoying at first, but start to make sense as they force you to understand what’s what. Teamwork becomes a lot more interesting and multiplayer a lot more frantic. It’s a small change, but it’s a good idea.
In the end, though, it’s still a military shooter, with all the baggage that carries. Is it worth $60? If you like military shooters, I’d say yes, and if you enjoy multiplayer, this’ll probably be a game worth your money. For anyone else, though, it’s hard to recommend. There’s simply nothing new here.
That said, I hope Danger Close gets the chance to cut loose with another property. They like what they do and they do it well. Hopefully this will be successful enough that they get a chance to show more imagination than they’ve been allowed on this game.