PAX Prime 2012: Medal of Honor Warfighter Hands-On
Considering that popular opinion on the Call of Duty series has reached an all time “ehhhh”, it’s kind of strange watching EA trying its best to achieve the yearly success of Activision’s blockbuster shooter series. Granted, sales don’t lie; it might seem like everyone is sick of Call of Duty, but millions of people aren’t sick of buying it. EA isn’t doing too badly, either; last year’s Battlefield 3, while a different kind of shooter at its core, was marketed directly against Modern Warfare 3, and has done quite well for itself, especially with the recently added Premium service (a fancy season pass).
Medal of Honor – the reboot series, not the old games – is a different story, though. The first game was a nice-looking but ultimately flawed game, a slightly bizarre package featuring a buggy campaign and a boring multiplayer mode that felt nothing like the single-player portion of the game, made by a different developer. Warfighter‘s multiplayer is on display at PAX Prime, and I’m happy to report that the game – the multiplayer half, at least – is 100% totally average. It is not a complete disaster.
The game we played showed off an attack-and-defend mode, similar to Rush from Battlefield but in a much more enclosed map. The action was surprisingly slow and methodical, and a lot of the game on the defensive side revolved around covering choke points while the attackers tried to run through, and moving if they tried a different route. I ended up doing really well, earning enough points (Warfighter doesn’t have kill streaks, but point quotas to fill to earn abilities) to call in two chopper gunners, which I got to control (in a nice touch, your soldier actually jumps down from the helicopter instead of snapping back to wherever you called it in from) and several pinpoint missile strikes, which made short work of the enemy team milling about in the tighter sections of the map.
The demo felt like a mix between the slower team-based action of Battlefield and the faster run-and-gun gameplay of Call of Duty. It’s nice to see that Warfighter is at least differentiating itself in some way from those more successful titles, even if only by cribbing notes from both games instead of just one. One thing that is a bit worrying is the presentation, which is neither as pretty as Battlefield 3 or as smooth as Modern Warfare – aliasing and framerate issues ahoy. Hopefully these will be fixed by release. On the plus side, the sound design seemed great – gunfire was loud, punchy, and made excellent use of positioning to clue players into where enemies were coming from. Granted, this is something we should expect from shooters by now, but it’s worth noting all the same. Hopefully we’ll see more reasons to consider Medal of Honor: Warfighter worth noting in the coming weeks before release.