Last week I bought the critically reviled first-person shooter Medal of Honor: Warfighter, and once again, I find myself on the opposite aisle from the video game journos. It’s starting to become a trend. I loved Homefront, for example, but it too was run through the wringer and died a miserable death at the bottom of the bargain bin.
There’s a lot to like about Warfighter, in my opinion. The single player campaign, although short, feels authentic. The designers did a great job of making your NPC buddies seem like people instead of two-dimensional bullet shields. Speaking of that, it was nice to see the guys from Medal of Honor 2010 again, especially “Dusty”, who apparently transferred into the Central Intelligence Agency after the events of the last game. The graphics have improved, and I found game play to be a lot more dynamic, too. I also liked that my character got to do more of the cool stuff that in the last game was relegated to the NPCs. I also appreciated that the game depicted the strain of the military life on families and loved ones back home. In terms of conflicts, Preacher’s struggle to save his marriage may more familiar to servicemen and women than any of the elite combat missions depicted in the game.
The multiplayer game has been great, too, although I have had a couple of crashes and over the last several days. No doubt that Danger Close will fix it. With cross-promotion tied to so many major manufacturers of military gear as well as the upcoming film Zero Dark Thirty, they can hardly afford to ignore any bugs. Regardless, I’d say like 99% of my games run with no issues.
The “battle buddy” system in multiplayer is great. You’re matched with another player, and the two of you can heal and resupply each other during combat. A thin green outline surrounds your buddy so you can see him on the map wherever he may be. Also, when someone kills your buddy, they’re temporarily outlined in red, giving you a chance to get a revenge kill. Finding a battle buddy that you can depend on can be another matter entirely, though. It’s been fifty-fifty. I was matched up with a guy last night who was pretty good: We covered corners, healed each other and cooperated. However, the next round I was completely ignored by my buddy.
There are a ton of unlocks for the game. There are six classes (Sniper, Assaulter, Heavy Gunner, Demolitions, Point Man and Spec Ops) and several nations of fighters representing different elite units around the world. You unlock each fighter at a time, and all of them have different load-outs. The classes themselves have different special abilities, too: Spec Ops guys can momentarily scan for enemy signals to temporarily reveal their locations, the Point Man class has access to more powerful ammo, etc.
Another cool thing is that you actually start the game with elite equipment. However, you do have to do the unlock thing to customize, and the non elite stuff (like iron sights) are what you end up having to unlock, so if you prefer a more bare-bone approach to weaponry it can be a hassle. Most of the time you start out with incredible scopes, silencers and other things, including additional items like shotguns, flashbangs, mines, grenade launchers, etc. The following things are unlockable for each of your main weapons (and there are tons of them): optics, barrel, muzzle, receiver, magazine, paint job. Most of these categories have a minimum of three or four options.
Multiple kills allow you to call in supports, and these are a blast. You have an option each time to use a defensive or offensive support action: Radar scramblers, smoke screens, mortar strikes, Blackhawk helicopters that serve as mobile armed spawn points, miniature UAVs that look like tiny model airplanes that you throw into the air – all kinds of fun hardware.
The maps are pretty solid. They’re medium-sized and full of nooks and crannies, so multiple roles are possible, from sniping to run-and-gun assaults. It’s important to be cautious, though: being shot is brutal, and it’s hard to survive. There’s a “lean” mechanic built in that allows the player to peek around a corner – and more importantly, shoot around it – and that becomes pretty important rather quickly. I’m not a great gamer, and had my ass handed to me, but most of the time in this game it feels like I actually earned it from dumb decisions rather than just being at the mercy of rampaging kiddies who know all the tricks.
There are several game modes, including the ever-popular Team Deathmatch, a domination mode and a couple of others. My personal favorite at the moment is “hot spot”: The map has five potential targets and one is chosen at random. The attackers must place a bomb at the site, and the defenders must defend it. Presuming the first site goes down, another is chosen, and the team that takes (or defends) three out of five sites wins.
While the game isn’t perfect (and the couple of crashes I’ve had are certainly irritating), I have to feel that it doesn’t deserve the scorn that has been heaped upon it. If given half a chance I think that gamers will find a lot to like here – sadly, an iffy proposition with both Halo 4 and Black Ops 2 right around the corner.
(Thinking about giving MOH: Warfighter a try? Check out this strategy guide from Prima)