Medal Of Honor: Warfighter – Hands-On Preview
Since Medal of Honor: Warfighter’s first proper outing earlier this year, Danger Close studios have been keen to push two things; authenticity and respect for the soldier. Technology is at a point where guns can be scanned and actors can be mo-capped, but capturing that human quality is something very few games manage.
Flash to an injured Preacher laying on a hospital bed – he’s been wounded while off-duty in a terrorist attack. He relives the assault in a conversation with Mother and discusses how it connects to an operation they were recently deployed on. Preacher’s two worlds collided during the attack; he was there with his wife Lena and daughter Bella, trying to patch things up. He’s been out in the field for too long and it’s taken a toll on his relationship with his wife, this trip to Madrid was in a way a last-ditch attempt to save his relationship and make them a family again, which it did do. Just not for the right reasons.
Lena and Bella entered the room – the cut scene played out like any other up until this point but the atmosphere changed at this point and you quickly notice something very real about their relationship; you just connect with her the second she starts to talk. The level of detail in her expressions and general facial animation is incredible – Medal of Honor drew me in before I’d even began and my expectations for the rest of the game rose a little.
The story jumps around in time slightly, with conversations in the hospital room acting as the hub if you will while the mission we got to play branched off from a conversation between Preacher and Mother. Task Force Mako are sent in to save a group of aid workers that had been abducted by separatist group, Abu Sayyaf, but mid-way into the mission a high value target that nobody was expecting to be there shows up, at which point the whole mission starts to go belly-up. Task Force Mako need to link up with the Philippine Counter Terrorist Unit and rescue the hostages, cutting a path through Abu Sayyaf.
Firefights, even with a handful of enemies, are intense and require a little more skill than the usual pull RT and spray bullets method – do that and your gun will be spraying rounds all over the place. You quickly learn to play Warfighter differently because of this and you’ll start thinking like a Tier One Operative. My tip; keep a cool head, stay in cover and pick off the enemies using shorter bursts of fire, going for the headshot if you can. The AI, believe it or not, is incredibly effective during a firefight. They won’t do all of your work for you, but when it comes to keeping an enemy suppressed and making you feel like part of a team, the balance between you and them is perfect.
I won’t dwell on the graphics too much – Warfighter’s running on Frostbite 2 so we already know it looks good. A welcome addition that I feel is worth pointing out was the ability to switch the HUD on and off with a quick down press on the D-Pad. That’s not to say the HUD is particularly cluttered – personally I felt it helped with the overall immersion and was handy to be able to switch it back on quickly when needed, rather than fiddling around in the menu. The audio for Medal of Honor is just as impressive as the visuals – granted I’ve never heard an assault rifle being fired with my own ears but it was different to that of other shooters; there was no added bass trying to make them sound ‘cool’, they sounded much more real. Gunshots also dynamically changed depending on the type of environment you were in, which was very impressive.
Onto the multiplayer now and we had a chance to try out Hotspot. A round on this map takes place with multiple capture points dotted over the terrain. The defenders have the slight advantage of knowing which point needs to be protected before the attackers, although the attackers can see the locations of all possible Hotspots. You only have a set amount of time to destroy a Hotspot – blow it up and you get the point, keep it safe and the point goes to the defenders. The matches play out as a best of five and depending on how good your team is a match could last up to about 20 minutes.
This was also the first time I’d got to properly try out Fireteam, which adds an interesting co-op element to multiplayer. Greg Goodrich (Executive Producer) probably summed it up best when he described it to us as “trying to find a full team of friends to play with is always a pain when you want a quick game, now you just need to find one friend to play with”. Between the two of you, you can mix and match your fireteam from any of the nationalities available and select from various classes.
In this particular match the Republic of Korea UDT played the role of the Sniper, US Navy Seal was the Assault class, RU Alpha Group – Demolition, German KSK – Heavy, Swedish SOG – Pointman, and Canadian JTF2 – Spec Ops. Add up together all the different nationalities and classes and you have 72 different possible combinations, which in turn leads to 1000’s of possible Fireteam combinations to experiment with between you and a buddy.
Medal of Honor Warfighter has a lot of competition this winter – you could argue it’s even going up against its older cousin Battlefield 3. Should you spend your hard earned cash on Warfighter and not one of the others? Yes, from what I’ve seen so far it genuinely does bring something different to the table. I don’t think I’ve ever felt a human connection to a character in a video game as quickly as I did with Preacher’s wife and the multiplayer has an air of familiarity about it, while feeling new and fresh. Warfighter has that authenticity Danger Close have been striving for but it was the human quality that made it feel real.