Ah, the pop, pop, pop of heavy machinegun fire and the blinding glare of a freshly deployed flashbang, it can only mean one thing: the season of the formulaic first-person shooter is upon us.
First to bob its way down the alleyways of modern virtual warfare is Medal of Honor: Warfighter. By utilising the same engine – namely Frostbyte 2.0 – as developed for last year’s Battlefield 3, Warfighter instantly incites comparison and at first all seems well enough – though never any more advanced that DICE’s year old title.
Dig a little deeper however and glaring faults start to become obvious as AI-driven friendlies fire aimlessly, hostiles either ignore you or spot you from unlikely distance and levels take an age to reload should you bite the bullet prematurely.
Presumable conscious of the need to inject some much needed variation to dispel criticism that Warfighter is merely BF3 by another name, Danger Close have tried to put their own stamp on proceedings – most notably the many misguided breaches that you will have to painfully act out every time you head through a door.
A selection wheel asks you to select a breach type (the initial one being via the traditional flashbang) and so in you go as a period of slow-motion assists you in kiling the bad guys inside. The accumulation of head shots during such sequences adds extra breach types to the wheel for next time – a reasonable if grisly way to progress – but with unlocked breach offerings barely changing the process you might be left more than a little perplexed by why so much effort has seemingly but into the gimmick.
Similarly gimmicky are road chases which were apparently coded by members of the Need For Speed team but which never deliver the same verve and punch that their racer did, indeed, so scripted are these sequences that they might as well be on rails as you trail or sneak (yes, really) your truck through village streets.
Finally, the story itself should be deserving of what EA is no doubt hoping will be a Christmas blockbuster, but again Warfighter falls down here too, the tired, clichéd story of a soldier looking for resolution with his wife and kids squashed into standard Tom Clancy-esque war on terror fodder. Worse, most of the missions take place via flashbacks within flashbacks making for a confused narrative which would be rightly savaged should the same ever be proposed as a movie.
The multiplayer side fares better, the idea of a “buddy” system where you and a partner glean better rewards through teamwork makes for an interesting variation on the standard ‘every man for himself’ gameplay types, but even this is plagued by long loading times enough to drive all but the most patient away.
It’s a shame because Warfighter has moments of exhilaration if only because of that engine, and with the money sunk into it and technology at its disposal could have been so much more. As it is it’s a missed opportunity with more than a hint of rushed development about it.
Format: Xbox 360 (tested), PS3, PC
Developer: Danger Close