Tag Archives: medal of honor

Medal of Honor: Warfighter

Alternate title: all these o’s directly followed by r’s with no u in-between getting all up in my grill, yo


I ended up pre-ordering Medal of Honor: Warfighter after enjoying the previous game so much, and, as it so happened, ended up playing this year’s Medal of Honor title during this year’s Uni study period (the second one). Warfighter isn’t the first game in recent times that’s been almost universally panned (see also: Resident Evil 6), and at first, I couldn’t figure out why. I mean, Warfighter is as much a game as any of these other titles; it has a plot, which is played out via interactive gameplay and the occasional cut-scene. Isn’t that what a game is? And yet, Warfighter was receiving scores which suggested it was nothing more than exceptionally mediocre — nothing spectacular in terms of breakthrough gameplay, storyline or pacing, but just… average.

But… why?

Warfighter is the story of Preacher, a Tier One operator who’s been through hell and back. He’s been through the thick of it in the past, but in Warfighter, Preacher starts out as someone who’s just on the sidelines. You learn that Tom — Preacher — has taken a leave of absence from his usual duties in order to fix his marriage, and meanwhile, something big is happening elsewhere in the world. By playing over some of Preacher’s previous missions, you learn that some of these things might be connected. Then, suddenly, boom — a train blows up in Madrid, the very train and platform where you’re supposed to be meeting your wife and kid. You wake up in hospital, where your former CO tells you your wife and kid are safe, that they missed their train. But that’s not all: things are going down, and others you used to know are there trying to clean up the mess, find the culprits, and get to the source.

What follows is your story of how you’re assigned to an entirely new Task Force, Task Force Blackbird, in order to find out who the source of these attacks is. First you’re looking for P.E.T.N., the explosive compound that you encountered during your very first mission in Warfighter, then you’re looking for where it came from, tracing the source all back to a certain Sheik, and then even further still, to a mysterious Cleric.

Along the way, you’ll eliminate enemies from a helo in the sky, breach through numerous doors in a variety of different ways, participate in a co-ordinated sniper strike on targets in a hostage scenario, and, perhaps my favourite of all, drive like a madman through the streets of Dubai, either in pursuit of a target, or in an attempt to evade pursuing forces.

Don’t get me wrong, Warfighter is just about as linear as they come. You play through the missions in the order as dictated by the developers. There’s no decisions to be made here, only enemies begging for a bullet in their skull. At the heart of it, maybe that’s the issue here: Warfighter is a game with a single-player campaign that doesn’t let you make decisions, that doesn’t put you in control. You don’t get to decide whether people live or die, you don’t get to call the shots.

“If I die, give this to my wife. She’s already got everything else.”

But, I mean, isn’t that kind of the point? If you’re expecting to make decisions in a game that’s all about what the developers want to show you, aren’t you expecting too much? Single player campaigns in first person shooters are all about telling a story, and if you’re not coming along for the ride — beautiful scenery, on-rails shooting galleries, and all — then you’re playing the wrong game. Because if the developers of the game wanted you to make decisions, if they wanted  you to be in control, wouldn’t they have put those kinds of elements into the game to begin with?

Honestly, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this kind of game. Warfighter features un-skippable cut-scenes, and you know what other game does? The Walking Dead. Like Warfighter, The Walking Dead features un-skippable cut-scenes, of which there are many. And even though The Walking Dead is perhaps a game where you’ll make some seriously hard decisions, it’s also a game that features the illusion of choice. But again, why is any of this surprising, when it should be the complete opposite? Games that tell narratives (however poor said narrative might be) via their single-player campaigns aren’t exactly new, just ask any of the Call of Duty series, the Battlefields, or the somewhat newcomers, the Medal of Honor games (2010 game onwards, that is).

If it’s different you want, then it’s different you’ll get: Spec Ops: The Line is another game that I’ve written about recently, and that shares a lot in common with Warfighter. Spec Ops and Warfighter are both games that, on the surface, look extremely similar. They both set the scene for war, explaining to those who haven’t been in the mix what war is like. They’re both games that feature linear gameplay, fighting enemy after enemy, corridor after corridor. But where Spec Ops takes things to their extreme by evolving the protagonists into something resembling nothing like themselves, Warfighter takes the well-worn path. Warfighter forces you to take the shot, Spec Ops laughs at you for not doing so. By comparison with Warfighter, it’s easy to see why Spec Ops has been so widely praised.

After my first play through of Warfighter, I wasn’t sure if I liked it as much as the previous game. I wasn’t even sure what the plot was even about, or why some of the cut-scenes weren’t rendered in the game engine, but rather, as some kind of quasi-movie scenes with actors that looked like characters out of a video game. But then, around halfway though my second play-through, I realised it was more than that, that the non-rendered cut-scenes served to separate the story from the gameplay. It was then it started to click: the story wasn’t all over the place any more and actually made sense, and I felt that I had a real sense of purpose during the game, that I was doing something that had a real impact on things.

I don’t necessarily agree that Warfighter deserves the scores that it gets, but I can see where the critics are coming from. Warfighter isn’t a mind-blowing game in any respect, but it does tell a story, and it does feature some nice — if extremely linear — gameplay. There are the odd enjoyable parts, such as the epic car chase scenes, but it does lack what I consider essential to any first-person shooter: a black-in, black-out sniper mission. Just thinking about that snow level (“Evasion”, if you’re playing Spec Ops) in the second Modern Warfare is enough to send me to my happy place.

Have you seen the movie Act of Valor? Warfighter is a lot like that. So like that, in fact, it’s almost as if Danger Close took Act of Valor and made a game out of it. Both Act of Valor and Warfighter had real-life SEALs onboard as consultants, and it shows — the game and movie are uncannily similar.

At the end of the day, if Warfighter set out to tell us about the heroes that go into battle against enemies, get shot at, beaten up, and then get back up and ask for more, than it succeeded. If Warfighter set out to tell us about the sacrifices these people make every day, then it succeeded in every possible way. It’s people like Preacher, Voodoo, Mother, and Rabbit that make gamers like us realise that all of what we’re seeing on screen is inescapably real for a select few.

And for that, I thank them.

Medal of Honor (2010)

Sometimes, I play games. Mostly when I’m supposed to be doing something else, but I play games. For the past few years I’ve somehow managed to complete a single player game during the school/Uni study break period (swotvac). I think the first time this happened I was playing Fallout 3 GotY, but that’s for another time. What follows is my review of Medal of Honor (2010), which unfortunately didn’t get completed in the study period just gone by, but only just recently. There are a few spoilers, but I figure that if you haven’t played it by now you don’t likely care that much anyway. Enjoy!

When I first started playing Medal of Honor, it wasn’t very compelling. The main appeal of this particular triple-A shooter for me wasn’t that it was an alternative to the Call of Duty juggernaut, but that it featured guns. Like a druggie looking for his next hit, I was chasing the feeling of looking down the sights (preferably ACOG, but I’ll take whatever the developers choose to throw at me) and taking down some enemy combatant at range with a well-timed headshot. As cliche as that may sound, I was in it for the gunplay — how the guns “felt” within the context of the game, in different situations, and so on — and Medal of Honour (MoH) has that in spades.

In the beginning, it feels a little like you’re a nameless, faceless grunt fighting someone else’s war — because you are. It’s a little “go here, shoot those guys, rescue this dude”, and it feels like we’ve already been here before in every other big name, A-grade FPS — because we have. The enemies pop up at predictable locations, you advance through different scenarios with your squad in a predictable manner, and it’s all very predictable, even nice, but doesn’t make for very compelling gameplay (even the gunplay is average and just doesn’t feel good).

I don’t know whether it was because I had taken some mind-alterating substances that day or whether I was just in a different state of mind, but I recently re-visited the single player campaign, and, well, everything was different. The good different, not the bad kind. Somewhere between taking out snipers in a tower and lasing targets for laser-guided missile strikes or strafing runs I started to enjoy the game. I was no longer a nameless faceless soldier fighting someone else’s war, I was Rabbit, a Tier 1 Operator part of AFO Neptune, lasing targets with SOFLAM for Predator air strikes under the cover of darkness, or taking out the bad guys at 1000 meters with the Barrett. All I know is, at some point Medal of Honor started being compelling and sucked me right in.

The pacing of the game is fantastic. The action scenes are truly hectic at times, and yet there’s always parts where you never feel overwhelmed by enemies — unless that’s exactly what the developers intended, as they do in one particular scene. Like I said, the story starts out pretty slowly with you saving some guy and then just clearing out the same old enemies in the same old locations, but soon you’re on ATVs assaulting enemy compounds at night, or planting locator beacons on enemy transports, or blasting away at enemy RPG positions from the safety of the skies in an Apache. Some sections leave you truly exhausted, but you’re a SEAL; you just get back up and ask for more.

All that stuff is truly enjoyable, don’t get me wrong. It’s exciting, the gunplay at that point is incredible (oh selective fire, how I’ve missed you), and everything is as you would expect for a shooter of this calibre (pun not intended). It isn’t until about the last third or last quarter of the game that the whole story element comes into play and you start to feel that all this might actually be real. I won’t lie; I felt real relief after playing through one particular section where the position you’re holding for extraction is quickly becoming overrun by enemies who are almost constantly firing RPGs and all manner of rounds are whizzing past you, and just when you’re about to throw in the towel (your companion tech specialist even tells the brass to hold off the support troops he called in earlier), the calvary comes and saves the day. From the desperate calls over comms to having to put down guys left right and centre while running pretty low on ammo, that feels real.

And it only gets more real from that point on.

As a game, the model animations are as good as any. When you’re huddling with three other soldiers behind a wall talking about how you’re going to smoke the enemy position for an air strike, things seem real.

When you’re falling out of a friendly chopper, things seem real.

When you have to choose between bullets and broken bones, things seem real.

When you’re falling off a cliff (broken bones heal), things seem real.

While I have huge respect for people that serve I’ve never gotten into the whole military aspect of life that Americans seem to have. All that cliche gung-ho, trigger-happy, shoot now attitude just seemed too far fetched, a little too removed from reality to actually be. After playing Medal of Honor, I’m convinced that is only the tip of the iceberg. It’s games like this that demonstrate what war is like, how people like Rabbit live, and how they die.


Medal of Honor is easily the best military FPS I have played in a while. While I do enjoy the sheer excitement and pure action of the Call of Duty series, there’s nothing quite like a good plot to keep the story going, and Medal of Honor delivers on all fronts. The multiplayer uses a different engine to the single player, but is still quite enjoyable (although perhaps not as much as Bad Company 2). Medal of Honor keeps it real while delivering everything a military shooter enthusaist would want, which means it’s a pretty damn good game indeed.