November may be all about Call of Duty, but you should never count EA out of the shooter game. Last year’s Battlefield 3 was one of the biggest launches of the holiday season, and while there’s no Battlefield title on deck this time around, EA is still in the fight with the latest iteration of the Medal of Honor franchise.
Medal of Honor: Warfighter, promises to be a compelling alternative to the pending juggernaut that is Black Ops II, even if it’s doomed for a second place finish. Warfighter offers similar gameplay experiences in a different framework, with a different guiding principle and a more involved single-player campaign. The question is whether the game offers an experience different enough to compel a purchase, or if it’s just another “also-ran.”
Here’s what we know so far:
Medal of Honor: Warfighter is anchored in the very real world of global terrorism and special forces action. The game borrows heavily from real-life themes like train bombings, pirates, terrorist strikes and the massive wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The story that Warfighter lays out is a work of fiction, but it’s intended to be as close to reality as possible.
As with most shooters, the main thrust of Medal of Honor: Warfighter’s single player campaign will revolve around bouncing around the world from location to location, killing bad dudes and completing objectives along the way. The basic gist is that you and your team are working to dismantle a terrorist network, villain by villain. It’s not necessarily new ground for a shooter, but nothing about Warfighter promises to be an innovation or revolution. It’s simply a well-made game that sits comfortably in its target niche.
But hey, this is a FPS game we’re talking about here—who cares about the story? The real meat is in the multiplayer, right?
Fans of online multiplayer will find a lot to love about Warfighter. Perhaps its most intriguing concept is that of the buddy system—if you team up with a friend, you’ll earn special abilities for watching each other’s backs. You’ll be able to easily find your partner via map icons and other visuals, and buddies can revive one another as well as spawn on top of each other depending on what’s going on with the enemy. It’s not a full-fledged squad, but it’s not quite lone wolf running and gunning either.
The game was built with DICE’s Frostbite 2 game engine, which means the visual fidelity isn’t even in question. Look for Warfighter to be one of the best-looking games of the year, just as Battlefield 3 was one of the best looking of last year. But shiny graphics don’t make up for sloppy gameplay, and early testers have reported that Warfighter’s multiplayer mode still feels a bit clunky and unrealistic. It takes several shots to down foes, even with the game’s strongest weapons.
Overall, Medal of Honor: Warfighter is shaping up to be a strong title, but its strong resemblance to Call of Duty and its obvious borrowing of some of the more CoD-esque gameplay elements of the day may actually hinder the game as much as help. There’s a chance a broader audience will be exposed, but old-school MoH fans may be turned off by the campy action and over-the-top set pieces.
We’ll just have to see what happens when the game launches next week.