I remember it like it was yesterday. The hedgerows were high on all sides, the paths dimly lit by the moonlight. A Nazi sentry patrolled the area, his boots barely making a sound in the eery silence. Silence I abruptly broke with the pull of a trigger. His head snapped back, his body arched over and crumpled to the floor, his helmet falling beside him.
Medal of Honor for the Sony PlayStation was released in 1999, from Dreamworks – Steven Spielberg’s production company. It was atmospheric and it played well, with great missions and graphics. It’s sequel, Medal of Honor: Underground was a worthy successor, bringing the clandestine work of the Resistance to life.
From here on in, however, things started to unravel. Medal of Honor: Frontline on the PS2 was a decent game – it’s opening doing well to replicate the chaos of Saving Private Ryan’s D-Day landings. The next game - Rising Sun - tried a similar thing with the Pearl Harbour mission, but beyond this, it was a bit of a let down.
And there was a new kid in town. A new pretender to the throne. Its name was Call of Duty and we all know what happened next. EA, seeking to emulate the gazillion selling franchise, rebooted Medal of Honor in 2010 and while it didn’t achieve the success EA had hoped, the new offering was a good game with a strong multiplayer and it deserved a sequel.
Things were looking promising in the build up to Medal of Honor Warfighter – some decent videos showcasing exciting multiplayer gameplay and campaign footage looking superb thanks to the mighty Frostbite 2 engine. Then the game was released and the reviews started to roll in. They were not good. Edge magazine for instance, gave the game 3 / 10, calling it "rushed, uninspired and cynical."
Perhaps Edge isn’t the best example - the weight of the world having clearly crushed the spirit out of all the writers there - but wherever you looked (with the exception of their own Twitter feed), the new MoH was getting a hammering.
I’ll be honest – it put me off a day one purchase. I didn’t pick up the game until January thanks to a price drop and a love of the Frostbite 2 engine. I had to see it for myself. This franchise deserved that much from me at least.
While Medal of Honor Warfighter is often a linear shooting gallery - much like many FPS games of late - there is still enjoyment to be had here. The graphics, while not being quite of the same standard as Battlefield 3, are still amongst the best we've seen on consoles and the sound proving once again to be a real asset of the Frostbite 2 engine.
The gameplay for the most part is your basic shooter fare, but the weapons pack a decent punch and the action, while not very varied, is still fun.
There are two sections which break up the shooting and they prove to be real standouts. Both are driving sequences - one a chaotic chase through a market in Pakistan as shown in the gameplay trailer below; and the other a game of cat and mouse in the backstreets of Dubai. While these sections are by no means perfect, they are well executed and once you've finished the game, will stand out for you as the moments where the adrenaline was at its highest.
Medal of Honor as a franchise has always paid respect to the real world men and women on whom the games are based, but this has created a confusing style of late as they have tried to combine this gritty realism with the bombastic action movie traits of Call of Duty's last few efforts. It doesn't sit comfortably and you'll wish the developers had chosen a side and stuck to it.
They have bullet-drop in the game during the sniping sequences and you get the impression there were at least some of the developers who wanted to take the game down the uber-realistic route used to great affect in Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising. But ultimately, Medal of Honor Warfighter falls back on the formula making money over at Activision - balls out, gun-toting action, with little substance.
The less said about the multiplayer the better, and besides, Battlefield 3 and Halo 4 have that wrapped up, for this generation at least, but I think the single player campaign is still worth a visit. I thought it was better than Black Ops II, which Edge gave 8 / 10. to. Which proves the words of games journalists should be used only for guidance if you're still on the fence. If not and you can afford it, Medal of Honor Warfighter is worth a go. Expect to be entertained. Just don't expect the same feeling you had back in 1999.