Let this be a lesson: if you’re going to try to make a Call Of Duty-alike, you’d better make sure it’s a good one. Medal Of Honor: Warfighter’s singleplayer campaign makes it clear that developer Danger Close has COD makers Treyarch and Infinity Ward lined up in its sights, but the abysmal end product merely highlights what their series does so well. Where COD maintains a smooth 60fps, Warfighter gets a nosebleed trying to put out 30fps. Modern Warfare boasts near-instant restarts after death; here, lengthy loading times merely add to the frustration.
Where Activision’s series funnels players from one bombastic set-piece to the next, Warfighter moves its audience from one stream of bad guys popping in and out of cover to another. There’s a chopper gunner section, of course, and a new world record for the number of slow-mo breach and clears. Warfighter’s campaign, by virtue of its naked aspirations, feels like a bad COD tribute act, touring the working men’s clubs with its stick-on Elvis sideburns.
While 2010’s Medal Of Honor reboot cast players as Tier One operators in the early stages of the war in Afghanistan, here you’re moving between terrorist hotspots in the Middle East, working your way up the chain of command in search of a Bin Laden facsimile known as The Cleric. The greater environmental variety that this affords doesn’t, sadly, extend to the gameplay, which sticks to its FPS guns – and its turban-wearing bad guys – throughout, with two exceptions.
Both are driving sections – one through crowded, rundown Pakistani backstreets and another on the wide roadways of Dubai – and have been made by Black Box, the developer of Need For Speed: The Run (Black Box is to Criterion what Danger Close is to Battlefield maker DICE). These sequences are everything you’d expect from a driving section shoehorned into an FPS: clunky, a chore, and overlong. At least your car has regenerating health.
The story itself, which like its 2010 forerunner was apparently written by Tier One operators stationed overseas, tells not of the perils of conflict against an amoral enemy or the lingering threat of fundamentalism, but instead focuses on the people back home: the wives and children who spend their every waking moment wondering if they’ve just been widowed or orphaned. It’s a story worth telling, but one that can’t be done justice to in an FPS that focuses on, well, the perils of conflict against an amoral enemy and the lingering threat of fundamentalism. As such, what little emotional weight the game carries and what little evidence there is of unease at the endless clandestine wetwork is confined to cutscenes.