Following the lukewarm reception to 2010's reboot of the Medal of Honor franchise, us gamers were told that developer Danger Close was going to work very hard at improving the things fans of the series found wanting. In some ways, they've succeeded. In others, we've been presented with an increasingly generic and unoriginal entry. Warfighter was penned by actual US Tier 1 operatives deployed overseas. In other words, Danger Close was aiming for extreme authenticity. Once again, players become these operatives as they attempt to put an end to global terrorism, only this time we are given a glimpse into their personal lives. A brief glimpse. An incredibly fleeting glimpse.
Missions unfold in Call of Duty-esque fashion (big surprise, right?) as you step into the shoes of one of two operatives, Stump or Preacher. And though Stump has the more entertaining missions, the bulk of the campaign's narrative revolves around Preacher coming to terms with the toll that Tier 1 has taken on his personal life. With his marriage strained and his sense of duty skewed, Preacher must decide what he fights for, and what he is willing to give up in his pursuit to defend the American way.
By using developer DICE's proprietary Frostbite 2 engine, Danger Close has crafted a game that looks (mostly) great. Explosions and particle effects leave quite a lot to be desired, but there is just no substitute for how wonderful Frostbite renders destruction. Safety in cover won't last as chunks of concrete crumble and fly. Wood splinters and glass explodes all around you. You'll need plenty of cover, too, because unlike most of today's run-and-gun offerings, MoH goes for a more realistic feel. Even on normal mode it doesn't take much before you're dead and reloading that last checkpoint. The newly implemented lean mechanic is a blessing, simply hold down the left bumper/L1 button and you can peek over or out of the side of cover for quick head shots or just to survey the battlefield.
Certain missions announce that they are inspired by true events. Knowing that some of the aspects of these missions actually happened adds a level of awe and respect as you blast through a flooded city in the Philippines or uncover a terrifyingly massive terrorist training operation deep within a network of caves in Pakistan. Watching the small details during the obligatory sniper mission was borderline fascinating, and added another small but noticeable layer of authenticity to the proceedings. Mid-mission dialogue sounds authentic and cinematic cutscenes are impressive.
Though it was actually developed by DICE, the multiplayer modes found in the previous installment were hit and miss. Warfighter's online offerings, however, are its main selling point. While lacking the polish of other triple-A titles in the same genre, each mode is totally fun. Taking yet another page from their colleagues at DICE, players can test their mettle in several familiar modes. While the setup is nothing new, the level of customization available is staggering. Every piece of your gun can be switched out for unlockable parts, and players can choose from multiple countries' military best. It is doubtful that Warfighter will have the same staying power as its older brother Battlefield 3 or the current lord and master of online gaming, Call of Duty, there is certainly a lot to like and plenty to keep you busy between now and the November release of Black Ops 2.
There is a moment partway through the campaign where it becomes clear that our heroes have been neglecting their wives. In this moment, one of these women attempts to make the other feel better by taking a deep breath and saying, "I'm going to tell you something that I figured out a long time ago, and that none of the other wives seemed to understand...it's better for them to be happy than safe." This is ridiculous. Not only does it seem to say that these dudes would rather be blasting faces off than spending time with their families, but she may as well have said, "We are women, and our feelings don't matter." Now, I understand that as this game was written by actual Tier 1 soldiers, these scribes could probably kill me without so much as a yawn, but this writing seems like a strange way to absolve guilt through a video game. The stab authenticity is much appreciated, but it really drives me nuts in games when women are little more than window dressing or bitchy. This isn't even mentioning the absolutely spooky design used for these wives, or for Preacher's daughter. We know the story is partly based on true events, so let me just say that if the women in this game were based on actual women in the writer's life, i hope i never have to meet them or the mouse-faced ghoul of a daughter in a dark alley. You can't see it, but I'm shuddering right now.
Moments that seem designed to illicit an emotional response fall flat, especially those that ask us to care about characters from the previous game. It's not like we had a whole lot of reason to care about them then, so why should we shed a tear now? This isn't Uncharted, here! Oh, and let's talk about how everything from breaching a room in slow motion to remote controlled war-bots has been lifted from Call of Duty. Certainly, CoD didn't invent these things, but it seems to me that there are more than a few moments in Warfighter that'll make hardcore gamers wonder where they've seen it before, remember where they've seen it before and then jump back into their tried and true shooters. I'm not saying these actions don't have a place within MoH, just that it would've been nice if they'd been different beyond a few different ways to open a door.
The Bottom Line
You have played this game a million times by now, a sad fact to mull over as you mourn the fall of a once noble and fun franchise. Instead of trying so hard to add another modern warfare FPS to an already flooded market, Danger Close might've succeeded with a good old-fashioned WW2 shooter (where the hell did all those go, anyway!?). If you are a hardcore gamer who impulsively buys games all the time (like me), you may be looking for a slightly different multiplayer experience while you count the seconds til higher-quality releases. If not, you're not really missing much, and there are plenty of older MoH titles for purchase in the PlayStation Store. This is strike 2 for developer Danger Close...better luck next time, if there is one.
7 out of 10 (this means it's pretty fun, but you'll probably like other games better)
Developer: Danger Close
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Rating: M (seeing dudes burn alive is always messed up)
There were more than a few moms at the midnight release (which was a school night) with their young children buying this game. Moms, I don't want to tell you how to raise your kids, but you should look into this stuff before exposing your children to such mature themes. This is exactly why people try to ban Mature rated games every few years...don't ruin it for us adults who love ultra-gore!