Here we go again. FPS season is back in order. Black Ops comes soon, Halo is in 2 weeks, so for now, let’s see if EA can steal the thunder with it’s own title, the long running Medal of Honor series, this time titled Warfigther. Does this game warrant another tour of duty for the modern day FPS genre or is it time to pack it up and accept the discharge (honorable or otherwise).
The story is the one we’ve seen before. You’re part of a military unit, in this case a special task force who is supposed to track down a spread out terrorist network around the world. Warfighter attempts to bring a human element to the story, focusing on how the violence affects those who carry it out. Honestly, it just falls short. What we get in the end is a straight forward plot that is straight out of an overpatriotic B-Movie. We’ve seen it all before, and in many cases we’ve seen it all done better. The emotional side falls short, mostly because of a poor script that is more like a Mexican soap opera than a serious war drama.
When it comes to audio, the game at least sounds great. Each weapon and effect have a distinct sound, and if you play with surround sound and have roommates (like me) be prepared to be asked to turn it down a few times. The dialogue is poor, but at least the actors try to make it more than it is. It’s admirable to see this kind of effort go into such a bad plot, but it still goes a long way to show commitment. Explosions, weather effects and gunfire all crackle through the speaker with a distinct oomph that at least attempts to put you in the middle of the action.
Visually, the game is stunning. This should as no surprise given that MoH uses Frostbite 2 to model all of its environments. You will visit a long list of locales, from a storm ridden village in the Philippines to a war torn Serbian city. There is a lot of care that went into designing this and everything is brimming with detail and lighting that I would argue borders on photo-realism. All of the action is good too. The explosions, the set pieces and the world coming apart around you doesn’t slow the frame rate and it looks simply gorgeous. Enemy and ally models are also highly detailed and thought out.
Unfortunately, the same amount of care was not put into the pre-rendered cinematics, which is a shame, given that this is supposed to be the more “human” side of the story. The characters here simply look ghoulish and robotic. The animations are stiff, the visuals are extremely dated and too fake. It’s bewildering too, considering how amazing the rest of the game looks.
All that being said, visuals remain Warfighter’s best feature. The campaign sticks to the basics of the modern FPS, even down to the 4-6 hour completion time. And believe me when I say this, the game WILL HOLD YOUR HAND through everything you do, even in the later missions. One mission is just you taking one sniper shot, and that’s it, done, achievement unlocked, trophy earned. Everything about the campaign design screams lazy and uninspired. In the end the best way I’d describe it is boring.
Sure, everything works well. The controls are great, the new peek from cover mechanic is a very interesting and novel addition to the modern FPS and everything feels smooth. If you’ve played FPS games before, you’ll feel right at home. Warfighter doesn’t groundbreak the formula, but it simplifies it for you, making the whole experience easy. But in the end it’s just running down constricted corridors, one encounter from another without much respite. The ally AI is horrible, and in a game that stresses camaraderie they will not move a muscle to follow you into the fight or cover you unless it is triggered by some arbitrary sequence.
The shooting sequences are broken up by a few driving moments that overstay their welcome very quickly. Yes EA, you have Need For Speed coming out pretty much next week, no need to give us 1/10th of a driving game inside your new war FPS. Maybe it’s just the developers struggling to find a unique aspect of gameplay to add, but it’s just boring, poorly implemented and overall unnecessary to have in this game.
In the end, the single player campaign doesn’t respect the player. The objectives don’t vary, there is no room for deviation even if you wanted too (if you’re chasing someone they’ll actually pause as you encounter an ambush and wait for you to start chasing them again) and everything that happens is telegraphed from a mile away.
The uninspired characters and a lackluster cookie cutter plot leave no reason to play single player at all. It’s a shame too, because given some of the small, neat ideas behind this. Even when you break down doors, a separate mini game, the game gives you option how to breach, but then will always put you into the same slow motion shootout sequence. It’s nothing more than pretty graphics and extensive polish trying to hide some very lazy and sometimes insulting game design. And that last sentence can pretty much summarize the game.
Multiplayer has some interesting ideas as well, especially when you can chose to play as various special task force teams around the globe, but in the end the differences are very vague and insignificant. The modes, are pretty much the the same you’ve come to expect from every single other FPS out there, so there is nothing of note or surprise here. I do want to mention one mode where you’re randomly paired up at the start of a round, forcing for some ad-hoc collaboration on the go, but the mode itself isn’t developed or center-stage enough to revolutionize the FPS experience.
All of this is also held back by some terrible interface layout and design. The menu systems feel dated and getting to your related info or upgrade/level up information quickly becomes a chore between matches, sometimes you’ll just want to skip it all together. Yeah, there are moments of cool customization but that is just the game trying to hide something that is simply unacceptable by today’s standards.
Verdict: I wish I could say more good things about Warfighter other than “it looks pretty,” but I simply can’t. The game is a shell, a very pretty shell, but a shell at that. It’s nothing more than a quick cash grab before Halo and Call of Duty take over the market, and no one is even trying to hide the fact. If you needed more signs that the game was simply rushed out to you because of a convenient time slot, look at the giant first day patch that fixed a miriad of issues. It always pains me to slam games, especially knowing how much work goes into every single one, but I am sorry with a franchise name this big and expectation build up this high, what we got is unacceptable for a full-price release. It’s gorgeous, absolutely stunning, and yes, it has some very good minor ideas on taking the genre forward, but that is not enough. Should you play this game? No. You definitely shouldn’t.