Medal of Honor: Warfighter Hands On
Developer: Danger Close / Publisher: Electronic Arts / Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, Wii U / Price: $59.99 / Release Date: October 23, 2012 / ESRB: Mature [Blood, Intense Violence, Strong Language]
Constant globetrotting can be a tough sell in a first-person shooter single-player mode. Unless you have a cohesive narrative, all the jumping locations can make the missions feel like recycled multiplayer maps with AI buddies (e.g. last year’s Bodycount). I have a feeling that won’t be the case with Medal of Honor: Warfighter. From what I can tell so far, it retains the emotionally charged tension from the end of the previous installment. Going beyond the mountains of Afghanistan from the last game, this final hands-on session finds the Tier 1 operators in the war-torn urban streets of Somalia and Karachi.
These guys feel immensely equipped, transitioning from a beach invasion to initiating a smart bomb attack to commanding an armed robot, and this just in the Somalia mission. This mission also presented a sniper mode, one that already felt more engaging than the sniping in Battlefield 3‘s campaign. Staying hidden in an abandoned building, setting up the makeshift nest simply involved putting two tables together. This was another opportunity to take in more of the Frostbite 2 engine’s handiwork, particularly with the detailed wear and damage on the walls, as well as the cracked wood from the tables.
An even more demanding test of Frostbite 2 came in the second mission, a chase event aptly called ‘Hot Pursuit’. Co-developed by some of the folks behind the Need For Speed series, it took just seconds to feel a sense of driving control you seldom get in first-person shooter driving sequences. There was a feeling of precision without worrying about having to pull off driving sim maneuvers.
After a year’s worth of Battlefield 3′s giant maps, tiny maps, and its plethora of vehicles, Warfighter’s mid-size levels in multiplayer were a welcome change of pace. The suite of modes will be familiar to most any shooter fan. Combat Mission is the classic map rush for the team on offense while the defense has to stop the other team from planting bombs and making forward progress. Sector Control is the Domination/Conquest mode of Warfighter where various sectors in a map need to be captured. Home Run is the game’s Capture The Flag mode with increased stakes since each player has only one life.
These map sizes and the myriad indoor areas make melee kills more of a viable option than in your typical first-person shooter. Combine that with a proactive approach to using explosives (better yet, remote triggered ones) and you have one of the many ways to build up killstreaks. Warfighter retains the classic FPS multiplayer incentives of compounding benefits when performing well. Play well, and you’ll be able to choose one lethal bonus weapon, such as a grenade launcher or a drone strike. Over time, I also managed to unlock the immensely fortified demolitions class, who is both armored and wields a deadly automatic shotgun.
Learning a variety of classes, even beyond the ones you’re comfortable with, is especially useful in Warfighter due to the multiplayer’s fire team system, where the game encourages buddying up with another player. Staying close to your partner yields many benefits including the aforementioned bonus weapons and more experience points for completing typical FPS objectives such as kills, assists, and take objectives. You’ll also be able to share ammo and see your partner through walls, creating countless opportunities to flank opponents, even if your buddy doesn’t have a mic to aid communication.
Even after the first week of launch, it’s easy to imagine FPS veterans needing more time to figure out how to fully benefit from the fire team system. Aside from committing the new map layouts to memory, there’s depth in trying to figure out which partner class combinations work well for every mode. Whether it’s overpowering the opposition with two shotgun-wielding tanks or two different but complementary classes, you can look forward to a lot of experimentation. You can also look forward to our review later this month.