Medal of Honor: Warfighter is more of the same, but it sure looks pretty

It would seem that you can’t separate bearded men from their assault rifles. Everyone’s favourite Tier 1 Operators are back in Medal of Honor Warfighter, the latest instalment of Danger Close and Electronic Arts’ rebooted take on modern military warfare. There are a few notable additions in Warfighter, including a shiny new graphics engine; driving sections and an interesting multiplayer component that lets you play as various members of international counter-terrorist and special operations teams. There’s promise, and there’s intent, but how is the execution?

It was the writing that separated Medal of Honor from other shooters. Characters like Dusty, Voodoo, Mother and Preacher didn’t just look the part; they sounded the part. This meant that Medal of Honor had a level of immersion like no other military shooter out there. It was all strictly business — you were part of a massive joint operation in one of the world’s most war-torn regions. While Warfighter doesn’t abandon it roots, it attempts to cover new ground — and it doesn’t necessarily do this very well. It tries to delve into the personal story of one of its main characters, while plugging in a global terrorist conspiracy into the plot. In the end, what we’ve got is a story that would seamlessly fit into the next Call of Duty or Battlefield game. It really is sad to see the series losing its sense of identity.

If you’re expecting a generic modern day first-person shooter, Warfighter will not surprise you. You run through its procedural levels, mowing down enemies with no regret or remorse. The bad guys this time around are not exactly brighter, and they’re far less brave than in the first game, taking cover behind anything that seems capable of obstructing your barrage of bullets. But this is an arcade shooter, so expecting intelligence from cannon fodder isn’t appropriate — enemies are harder to hit, and this is a good thing. Cover is temporary in Warfighter thanks to the Frostbite 2 graphics engine — shred through fences, walls, doors and pretty much anything else that’s between your bullets and the bad guy. To achieve this, there’s an authentic set of real-world weapons at your disposal, with all of them looking and sounding the part. Most of them come with multiple attachments like hybrid sights and scopes with multi-level zoom capability — switching between attachments is effortless, thanks to an intuitive and seamless control system. The monotony of linear missions is broken by on-rails sections and driving levels. The on-rails sections are a wonderful case of audiovisual overload (does anybody do on-rails better than Danger Close?), while the driving missions are very well designed. We’ve not seen too many attempts at elaborate car chases in FPS games, and Warfighter does feature some extremely tense and exciting moments behind the wheel (including a crazy chase in Dubai). Overall, the campaign is brief, but enjoyable — even if there’s nothing terribly original about it.

In multiplayer, Warfighter lets you play as one of twelve different Tier 1 operators from different countries — all with unique attributes and load-outs. Players will take to the frontlines in two-man fire teams. Effective team play is rewarded with perks, while players will able to re-supply and heal (a host of other support actions is also available) their ‘buddy’. There’s the usual set of generic game modes on offer as well as a class-based progression system with various weapon and attachment unlocks.

Graphics and sound — this is where things get interesting. As far as audiovisuals are concerned, Medal of Honor tops the class. The Frostbite 2 engine doesn’t hold back any punches, so you get insane special effects on every front — environmental destruction, realistic animation, multi-point lighting and the biggest sound this side of Battlefield 3. Just unload a clip of 5.56mm ammunition into a stone wall and listen to the sound of the bullets ricochet off the surface, or go crazy with a Helicopter-mounted machine gun and you’ll know what I’m talking about. The superb sound effects are greatly complemented by Ramin Djawadi (composer, Game of Thrones) and Mike Shinoda’s (Linkin Park) music score.

Medal of Honor Warfighter might have lost its sense of identity, but if you’re looking for a good-looking shooter with a decent campaign and quick, fast multiplayer, it’s not a bad choice. The car chases are a bonus. The game is available on PC, X360 and PS3.