02 November 2012

FWS Video Game Review: Medal of Honor: Warfighter

In 2010, Danger Close Games, a subdivision of EA, rebooted the aging Medal of Honor franchise of WWII games into a modern day military shooter...sound familiar? Unlike the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare series, MOH 2010 was based around real events in taking place in 2002 in Afghanistan with input from real Tier-One Operators. Using the Battlefield Frostbite Engine, the game attempted a story driven campaign told over several characters with a realistic POV, with a tacked on multiplayer based around EA's Battlefield. For some in the gaming community, including me, the game was an escape for the madness that surrounded the COD games, and it attention to how elite special operators really operate in the wilds of Afghanistan. For me, it was one of the best military shooter campaigns of all time, and a game I still play over and over. Skip ahead two years later, and Danger Close Games is at it again with Medal of Honor: Warfighter (MOH:WF) that was released on October 23,2012. This time is no different, a core character from the SEAL TEAM SIX (DEVGRU) and DELTA (CAG) Operators are back with real-world former Tier-One operators penning the story this time.
For the record, I played the campaign on normal mode, with the aim assistance off.


The Plot
Danger Close's producer Greg Goodrich has been telling us for a year that Warfighter would be a more personal, emotional story of the lives and service of Tier-One Operators, showing the impact of their service on their families, the overall fate of the nation, and their own lives. If this sounds familiar, it is. Last years Acto of Vador movie was of a similar attempt. Warfighter takes place a few years after the events of the first game, some members of AFO Wolfpack and Neptune are still around, others are gone. Preacher has left the Navy to repair his broken family, when his past in black ops catches up to him.
In commander of the new unit of joint special operators, Team Mako, is Voodoo, and they uncover a greater threat to the security of the free world while on a mission in Pakistan, the powerful explosive, Pentaerythritol tetranitrate or PETN. When this threat is unearthed, the new commander, a legend in the SPECOPS community offers Preacher and Mother to join the CIA's new clandestine operations unit, Taskforce BLACKBIRD. With this in place, one unit, Team MAKO actions are being directed by the intel that TF BLACKBIRD gathers in the field, both working from the shadow to achieve the same goal on operations around the global. That is the basic spoil-free plot of Warfigther.


I've been a gamer since 1982, and our version of multiplayer back then was to have an Atari Party, where you invited over your friends, popped pizza-rolls, made suicide Coke-based drinks, and clicked in a two-player 2600 game. And yes, they were legendary. Or there were the arcades, where you met your friends, spend an assload of quarters  avoid getting beaten-up for said quarters, and look at the pretty high-school girls. Ahhh...good times. By the 1990's, we got N64's Goldeneye, nothing was better in the 1997, then drinking, popping other things, and talking trash to your friends after completely owned them with an RPG. Once your computer and home gaming console were hooked-up to the internet, it created a global trash-talking party with games like HALO and Counter-Strike, and the the death of the single-player story-driven campaign was sealed. Today, it is the solo campaign that is an after-thought by the game developers, multiplayer is were the real money is. Some games, like HALO and Mass Effect still try to forward new campaign stories, but in the shooting world, they're rare, and that made 2010's Medal of Honor such a rare treat. I've only had Xbox Live for a few months, so, most of the time when I play games on my 360, they're campaigns. I bought Modern Warfare 3 for the story, and I bought Warfighter for the same reason.
The story of the campaign is steeped in low-profile global clandestine black operations are are indicative of Tier-One operators. You will do tings in this game that mirror elements for real operations, and things you've seen in the movies. One of the best, are the two driving stages...no, really, they are that interesting and well done. One has you racing around a market in Pakistan in a manual transmission Toyota Land Cruiser. the other is one the urban streets of Dubai behind the wheel of a hooked-up low-slung sports four-door coupe based of the Porsche Panamera Turbo.
Then there is the experience of being surrounds by characters you've come to care about, and  here is the realistic dialog that no game can match. That is where the campaign of Warfighter really shines, the hard realism of the world of Tier-One operators, and the emotion punch that it throws, makes the Call of Duty games seem like coloring books in comparison. Despite the similarity to the recent Act of Valor movie, Warfighter does a much better job, again making the new MOH games the go-to for seeing the reality of their dark world.
When it comes to game dynamics, by the picture of the SOG tomahawk here, you can guess one of the best things in the game...killing evildoers with a tomahawk! Unlike MW3 and MOH 2010, the melee button does not just unleash a slash or stab, but context-driven actions, similar to the melee function in HALO: REACH. I also enjoyed that if the gun had an attachment, you could use it. Most of the weapons in Warfighter mount two slighting systems, an ACOG more long range red dot scope with a close-in reflex flip-up red dot sight stacked on top, and both were usable. This attention to detail was clean in the tactical gear that the operators were wearing, that the weapons were current real-steel, unlike several in MW3.
But the weapon class that always impresses me in the MOH game...the pistols. The Modern Warfare series treats pistols has a necessary items, but they are not effective in gameplay, that is not true in Warfighter. Because of the realism, reloading your primary is slower than the Call of Duty games, making switching to the sidearm, your only means of self-defense when the evildoers come around the corner. Given the the good design, the CGI SIG felt like my P229, allowing to put rounds in the A-box all the frakking time, making the the pistol an enjoyable element of the game.

What the Frostbite 2 Engine does for the campaign, it also did for the multiplayer maps. Truly, some of the best looking and impressive environments for spraying computer-generated bullets in. Equally beautiful in a deadly fashion is the CGI weapons that will spraying those bullets. All of the real-steel weapons in the Warfighter multiplayer are rendered well, with excellent sound and customization backing them up. The two weapons I was most impressed by and enjoyed using, were the tomahawks and pistols. Unlike MW3, pistols are effective when the shit hits the fan and your secondary is all that can save you. With my trusty SIG Sauer P226, I could bring down targets that rushed me when my primary was reloading (no sleight of hand here!). The tomahawk was also a deadly joy to use, not because it behaved in any manner similar to the magically ax of Black Ops, because hacking someone to death was a hell of lot of fun more than a slash. In the multiplayer, the tomahawk was a two-hit killer, which somehow was more fun than in Black Ops.  If you did  sneak behind the tango and engage the melee, brings in a gruesome hand-to-hand animation of your  enemy hacking you up Psycho style.
During the 12 hours I spent with Warfighter's multiplayer, I noticed that I played more games than if I had played either Black Ops or MW3, the lobbies moved much quicker and nearly seamless between matches, often with less than a minute being matches.
Another element that worked well, and I wished was in Black Ops or MW3 multiplayer, is the 'buddy' system. At the beginning of lobby, you are paired up with either a complete stranger or a friend that you request, into a two-man fire team. During the match, you will spawn on the six of your buddy, receive buddy points for kills, and help heal each other as well as spare a mag or two.
The best overall positive that I can praise Warfighter's multiplayer with, is that I enjoyed it much than Black Ops. There is no random, seemly disembodied bullets, striking you perfectly, or little dirty holes or places were one can camp to use their G11 on you. This multiplayer was more clean killing for the most part, because I saw the dude that pumped me full of lead, and there was more military/paintball tactical thinking going on during the game than in the COD games. Oh, and the best part? The simple lack of the idiotic dumbass trash talk that exists in the Black Ops lobbies, or having to listen to shitty hiphop music and fucktards that blow whistles in the lobbies. Yeah...I didn't miss them at all.


The motto for why the failure of Warfighter did not to live up to the greatness of the 2010 game is "death by a thousand paper cuts". There is no one single fatal flaw that dooms MOH:WF to the bargain box of Gamestop, but small ones that peck at the player's brain. First off, the AI for friend and foe is broken. Often my elite teammates would shot at nothing, emptying magazines into walls, while I'm getting my arse kicked in, and the enemy fighters would run directly into our lines of fire, often mixing themselves into our team. When this happened, and does continuously, my teammates do not response, allowing me to take all the damage. Thanks alot.
Speaking of damage, Danger Close must be using Warfighter for social education on how the public should make A-box and head shots, because that is seemly the only way to bring down the evildoers with less than half a magazine. Even body shots in the chest or stomach, which would collapse a soldier not wearing body armor, seem to phase your enemies very little. Pumping shotgun and 5.56 rounds into targets that wouldn't drop got old real fucking quick, which coupled with the low (less than 200 rounds) ammunition that your character carries for your primary assault rifle, where in the Modern Warfare games, four to six hundreds rounds were common. When you turn augment your limited ammo with an enemy weapon, the game doesn't allow to drop your auto-assigned primary, nor add it to your weapons cycle. That's right...when you switch to your pistol, and you will alot, the enemy weapon drops out of your hands. This forces you scour for it, and at times, the game simply deletes it.
In any military shooter, weapons are your bread-and-butter, and if you cannot get them right, the game is doomed. When it comes to weapons of Warfighter, Danger Close had official firearms sponsors, like LeRue Tactical, whose work appears in the game, along with the real-steel weapons of Tier-One operators, but the weapons appear too far away from the shoulder and appearing bulky, giving points to MW3 weapons for superior animation work.
While I praised Warfighter for their realistic manner that they approach their weapons that their optical setup, most of the time, that stack of aiming systems is just too damn high, often obscuring the playing field. This was especially true during the 'Finding Faraz' level, where you are in low-profile mode in Afghanistan, using an OPFOR AKS-74U. The Krinkov is one of my favorite weapons of all time, even held a real-steel class-III one, but during the level, yours is outfitted with an ACOG scope and a reflex dot sight on top of it. Why? A commando-length carbine does not need a scope of that size. Lastly, there are these 'heavy gunner' in the game that akin to the Juggernauts in MW2/MW3, which comes off has cheap and wrong of the hard realism world of MOH. the last point I wanted to bring up, is that muck like the 2010 game, the replay value will be low, because the game generates the same enemies with the same level of AI...HALO it isn't.


As with all things in Warfighter, for everything good in the multiplayer, there is a dark side that overwhelms the good. While the maps are pretty, they are massive, with areas that are off-limits, forcing you to turn back, and often running you into awaiting enemies. Sometimes this is due to the type of game you're engaged in, like bomb planting, but it happened to me on team deathmatch. These pesky issue extend to the menu screens in the lobby, which are badly laid out, and confusing, along with the international Tier-One theme. It seems that you unlock different international operators in specific classes as you level up. You can play all operators of a certain flag, or make your own Rainbow Six team. But it is not that epic as it was sold to us.
The worst two elements are the kill-streak rewards and the effectiveness of the weapons. After a few kills, which are damn hard to pull off, you are rewarded based on the class your running, with. Sometimes it is 60mm mortars, or a smokescreen, or Blackhawk fast-rope re-spawn (which is cool). The bad element is that due to the ensuing chaos, it is damned difficult to laze the target area, without getting popped! But the most disappointing were the weapons. Warfighter offers the player a vast array of real-steel, well animated weapons, but they are completely underpowered. During my first engagement on the multiplayer, I saw a head pop out of a second story building, I switched the assault rifle to single-shot, and took aim with a red dot. Prefect headshot with bloodspray. When he didn't drop, I pumped a few more rounds, all with hit markers. Nothing. When the target took cover being the corrugated metal skin of the building, but my 5.56mm wouldn't pierce through that....really?! Then he fucking shot me. So much for the destructible environments! To remedy this, I attempted to remove the sound suppressor off of my H&K 416, and I had to wait to unlock that barrel....really?! Bottom line, MW3 is still the best modern military multiplayer.



Instead of one element that is uber-bad in this game, I given the ugly award to an entire level: Shore Leave. This is the first true shooting level of the game and comes after the introduction to how the current events connecting the 2010 game to the new one, the player steps into the boot of former Marine and current SEAL, Stump, a member of Voodoo's Team MAKO. Stump and MAKO's mission to assault an Al-Shabaab Pirate base-of-operation in an shore town in Somalia. Sounds good, right? Nothing like killing some no good pirates, right? Wrong. This level is simply broken, and the worst level in the entire campaign. No one was more in the history and events of October 3rd, 1993, and a change to play in Somalia on the current console games than me. I was excited to see this event at E3, until they started playing and it only became worse once I actually played it. The tactics of these Tier-One operators is extremely weak, the reality is even worst. Stump gets hit square with a skinny sniper round, dumping into the water, but he lives...WTF?
Then the game forces you to assault up the beach directly into their machine gun fire, without the ability to flank them. After some brutal damage and skinnies running directing into your lines, you have to clear the lower portions of the building to linkup with Team Force Grizzly. Suddenly, one of the SEALs whips out the unmanned ground vehicle armed with a 240 MG and 40mm. Where the hell did that thing come from? No one is humping that thing during urban CQC assaults or a beachlanding? What do the SEALs have backpack that are like the TARDIS? It only goes downhill, with souless action, a boring color-by-numbers sniper sequence that cannot compare to 2010's Friends From Afar level. Once I beat the game, I decided to replay Shore Leave, just to make sure I wasn't coming down too hard on the game. And after a rather fast replay (because I knew where the enemies were), I stand by my ugly award. A real pity.

Nothing pisses me off more in multiplayer games than when you have some dead-to-rights, and you begin to fire your assault rifle, then magically, he fires, too, but after you have engaged him....but you're the one to die? I call bullshit on that one! It seems that ever game has that now, especially Black Ops, but Warfighter is nearly has bad, especially when playing team deathmatch.

What other reviewers are saying
IGN.com rated MOH:WF at a 4.0, calling it bad, broken, flawed, and a waste of time, titling their review 'dishonorable discharge'. Metacritic had it had 54/100. Game Informer titled their review, 'A Medal of Awful', and stated that the entire future of the Medal of Honor is at risk of EA of ending the franchise all together. One thing that cannot agree with IGN or Game Informer is the how they felt the story was muddy, confusing, and how the characters were unlikable  I could see someone that didn't dig the 2010 game being lost and not caring about the character, but those of us, like me, that enjoyed the hell out of the 2010 game, got the characters. The story is a more complex issue. Because real Tier-One operators wrote the story, it is deeply layers like a good lasagna with military-speak and the dark world of clandestine operations. If you have never read up or have an interesting the world of black ops, than this story could be confusing. That is not the games fault for your lack of knowledge and willingness to learn, that is on you.  

Should You Buy/Rent/Steal MOH:Warfighter?
It breaks my heart and pains me to say this, but, don't pay full price for this game, it is just that flawed at every  level. If were a fan of the 2010 game, than you've already bought it, or waiting....wait some more until it drops in price, and it will. Rent it or borrow form a friend, just don't do what I did, pay $65 for it!
HALO 4 better live up to the hype after this disappointment.


  1. Rest in peace. Moh warfighter. Mabey someone will mod it or something.

  2. It is such a shame about the death of the MOH franchise. COD and Battlefield can turn out shit campaigns year after year, but Danger Close gave us gamers one of the closest gaming experiences to being an TIER-One Operator in the wilds of Afghanistan...and the gamer community does little to support it. However, I cannot forgive MOH:WF...it was broken, and it was the nail in the coffin of Danger Close and MOH. RIP, indeed.

  3. It wasn't danger close's fault. The game was rushed. E.A. Killed the game which killed danger close ( now dice l.a.) &yes it did tell the true story of war. While battlefield told the big battle & cod made krappy Michael Bay movie campaigns moh wf told the true story of modern warfare. No random Russian or Chinese invasion. So rip indeed. As for modding i forgot, AAA game companies don't allow modding cus there greedy.

  4. Yeah, you're right. EA did rush MOH:WR out before it was fully ready and tested. It is almost like they wanted Danger Close to fail, especially after they removed Greg Goodrich just a few months prior to MOH:WF dropping. After you commented on FWS' review of MOH:WF, I broke out the game...and it was as bad as I remembered. Pity...could have been amazing. The failure of this game really pisses me off more than some of the lackluster COD titles *cough*GHOSTS*coug*. I loved MOH personally, and supported Warfighter in the real-world and on FWS. Then it was shit gameplay. At least we will always have 2010's Medal of Honor. I am now off to play that title now.