Medal of Honor: Warfighter Preview – The Clone Wars
Written Friday, March 16, 2012 By Dan WebbView author's profile
EA have quickly become the kings of worst kept secrets in the games industry. Whether you’re talking the Syndicate reboot, the as-yet unveiled Need For Speed for 2012, the new PC-only SimCity or the almost-certain-to-be-revealed-soon Crysis 3, EA is a huge conglomerate that doesn’t really have much of a handle on its assets. GDC 2012 then was the staging ground for the unveiling of their latest worst kept secret: Medal of Honor: Warfighter.
There are a few changes to the franchise that you might be unaware of at present that we’ll touch upon before we move on. Firstly, the entire game is built using the impressive Frostbite 2.0 engine. Secondly, it’s created solely by the LA-based EA studio, Danger Close. Unlike 2010‘s Medal of Honor reboot, DICE are not involved in the multiplayer. What this means is that there’s no duality. Every scrap of the game is built in the same engine by the same team. Thirdly – and we know that you might be acutely aware of this already, but we can’t help ourselves – it’s got some fancy new branding: Warfighter. And by fancy, we mean so 2006 – hello Ghost Recon! The funny thing is that there’s nothing really advanced about this one – except maybe the Frostbite engine, which is looking stunning as always.
Danger Close have opted to take a fresh new approach with Warfighter, choosing to use real-life situations as the focus for the single-player campaign, with players jumping into the shoes of various global Tier 1 units taking on Somalian pirates, Philippine separatists and more. And by fresh, we mean you’ll be playing different units from around the world like pretty much every other military shooter these days, rather than remaining confined to one group of soldiers like in the 2010 version. This extends somewhat into the game’s multiplayer, which will be a blue vs. blue affair, a country vs. country face-off of sorts. Think FIFA 12’s ‘Support Your Club’ leagues feature.
That’s enough of that... on with the actual game.
In the hands-off presentation, our attention swiftly turned to an extraction mission in Isabela City, on the Philippine island of Basilan. It’s your usual smash-grab-and-extract mission with you playing as a member of Task Force Mako for AFO Neptune, who you may remember from the previous iteration. Task Force Mako’s objective is simple: breach the capitol building and save the aid workers from the Abu Sayyaf separatists. Like all missions in Warfighter, this mission was inspired by real-life events, which is probably the game’s only unique selling point at this time.
What we forgot to mention is that at this point in the game the Philippines had just been decimated by a huge typhoon. As Task Force Mako breached the main doors of the capitol building, pools of water and utter destruction lay in wake. The Tier 1 operators then moved into flanking positions to flush out the separatists bunkered down amongst sandbags. Despite the natural disaster that had beset the building, it’s once beautiful Asian elegance was still apparent.
As you’d expect from any shooter these days, the action on-screen was fast-paced and frenetic, and the power of the Frostbite 2.0 engine really came to the forefront. Whether you’re talking about the paintings being tossed off the wall thanks to nearby grenade explosions, the swinging chandeliers, the macro-destruction or the stunning particle effects, it’s looking like a visual masterpiece, even at this early stage. The attention to detail in the presentation was nothing short of stunning, revealing that the Frostbite 2.0 engine is powerful in anyone’s hands and as a result, Warfighter’s spectacle should completely eclipse the previous iteration’s with sublime ease.
That wasn’t Warfighter’s problem though. Our qualms came with the game’s innovation, and by that, we mean there wasn’t really any of offer. After the Tier 1 operators had fought their way to the top of the capitol building – with many Michael Bay-esque explosions along the way – all that stood between the operators and the hostages was, you guessed it, a clichéd slow-mo breach. The only real difference here being that players have the option to choose between what breech they use – including flashbangs, C4 and a straight forward kick.
It wouldn’t be a game devoid of innovation without an on-rails sequence to round things off. As expected, Danger Close didn’t disappoint, as the sequence finished with Task Force Mako attempting to extract the aid workers via boat. The only real interesting aspect here was the mission’s setting. There was something fascinating about watching the Tier 1 operators race through the flooded streets of Basilan in the torrential rain, avoiding tumbling buildings, dodging falling trees and swerving out the way of cars swept up in the typhoon’s powerful currents, before finally navigating through the flooded surrounding jungle to the extraction point. Yes, there was utter destruction and complete carnage on offer as they raced under falling buildings, taking out convoys on the bridges overhead as they went, but that was only a fraction of the spectacle; the setting and final extraction took the centre-stage of the demo.
Ultimately, there was nothing inherently wrong with Warfighter’s debut showing. In fact, it looked like an impressive action-packed shooter with dazzling visuals. It just doesn’t really do a lot to differentiate itself. It’s as if Danger Close created a checklist of modern shooter clichés and then built a game around them: Slow-mo breach to save a group of hostages. Check. Michael Bay-esque explosions. Check. On-rails section. Check. Lots of shooty-shooty action. Check.
Warfighter may look like a pleasant game with all the right gubbins to make it an enjoyable romp, but we’re not sure how many more linear, carbon copy, corridor-based modern combat-orientated shooters we can stomach. It’s the World War II phenomenon all over again if you ask us.
Sure, there’s something rather appealing about replaying some iconic real-world events, but it’s got its work cut out for it if it’s going to separate itself from the pack.
Medal of Honor: Warfighter is scheduled for an October 23rd and October 26th release in North America and Europe respectively.