During EA's Gamechangers event, the firm officially pulled the curtains back on Medal of Honor: Warfighter. Nathan Grayson was there to bear witness for VG247 as our next-bout with Teir 1 made it's debut.
At the very least, Medal of Honor: Warfighter has some lofty goals. During its GDC presentation, Danger Close proudly rolled out a slide bearing headlines from nearly every major conflict in recent history. The goal, producer Greg Goodrich said, is to meticulously sew tens of major conflicts together with the thread of a single terrorist threat. Moreover, Tier 1's going international this time around, with just about every nation short of Atlantis (fingers crossed for DLC) lending their itchy trigger fingers to the cause.
The goal? To represent national pride in first-person. “We're taking a page from FIFA's playbook,” said Goodrich. So naturally, globe-trotting and terrorist-perforating are in equal parts the order of the day. Squads from locations like Australia, Britain, and Poland will be warfighting in a decidedly non-advanced manner across everything from the Philippines to pirate-infested Somalia. And yet, the game hopes to zero in on the personal experience of war – as opposed to Battlefield's significantly larger lens – while also emphasizing a certain degree of realism.
So then, what makes these soldiers tick? You know, aside from beards that look like they should have ZZ Top as their beard? Well, that's the hard part.
Once the live demo got rolling, Medal of Honor: Warfighter didn't toss on a dab of camo and skulk around the bush. The ways it looked, moved, and constantly exploded unabashedly hearkened back to recent Call of Duties, making EA's cries of “No, we're kind of different!” admittedly difficult to buy into.
On the upside, everything looked fantastic. As our Intrepid Band of Manly Soldier Men rushed to rescue hostages in a Philippines capital building that looked like it'd collided with the iceberg that sank the Titanic, wood splintered, sparks danced all about, and waist-deep water – much like its inspiration, Bruce Lee – went with the flow of battle. Frostbite 2 really flexed its visual muscles in the building's narrow wood paneled corridors – even if most destruction was only cosmetic (see: a stair railing withstanding the full brunt of a grenade).
Structurally, however, the demo struck me as a rather tame Call of Duty level punctuated by a setpiece-heavy on-rails boat escape sequence. There was even a random slow-mo breach-and-clear, because of course there was – after which a third-person cut-scene triggered, depicting the actual rescue part of the hostage rescue. Saves us an escort mission, I suppose.
The aforementioned boat sequence, once again, looked absolutely gorgeous – with a dilapidated town nearly swallowed whole by a flood, probably because Poseidon was pissed that Atlantis didn't make the cut as a nationality in the game. But, again, it seemed to be completely on-rails, so if that's not your thing, Warfighter probably won't change your mind. However, what it lacked in freedom, it made up for with blindingly fast over-the-top action. Turrets fired, bridges collapsed, and the “Ooooo, pretty” cortex of my brain went “Ooooo, pretty.”
Really, though, in that respect, Warfighter seemed – from what I saw – at odds with itself. Its creators went on and on about character, respect, and authenticity, but – even during cut-scenes – that was all drowned out by a hail of gunsplosions seemingly imported straight from Call of Duty. Granted, it was only a short demo, so time will tell how those aspects manifest elsewhere in the game. I, however, can only report on what I saw, and – despite all the eye-popping explosions – Warfighter didn't exactly blow me away.
Medal of Honor: Warfighter releases October 23 on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360.