Warfighter, in so desperately trying to ape every other current first person shooter, manages to almost entirely eschew those precious few links to what EA are still citing as realism. Ties to apparently actual task forces, methods of combat, weaponry, training are out of the window as Danger Close produce a mostly competent but largely dull, flaccid few hours of dodging and blasting in what’s little more than an identikit by-numbers approach to the genre.
Not that it’s without some defining moments of its own, which is ultimately all the more dispiriting. A UN Embassy storming towards the end demonstrates Warfighter’s ability to keep you on your toes and at least one mission manages to convey overlapping time spans with some effect. The developers, seemingly keen to try something new, throw in a couple of relatively exciting driving sections too, although one is spoiled somewhat by a laughably daft hide and seek meta game.[drop]Sadly, that’s the game in a nutshell: everything it tries to do that’s new or interesting it doesn’t really execute with a great deal of conviction, and the bits that we’ve seen a dozen times before in other games just bumble along nicely without much fuss or diversion.
One requisite stealth section, which sees you unarmed and only able to melee when told to by the game, somehow thinks the player won’t try to pick up a gun from a downed enemy – because you can’t, until the scripting finally relents three dead bad guys along.
Play by the game’s rules and stick to the linear path and it’s a straightforward enough affair, even if the story bats around from character to character, locale to locale, with reckless abandon. Try to subvert that route – for example, sneak past the guards in the aforementioned stealth section without the ability to even punch your fist – and you’ll face yet another loading screen wait as you’re dumped back to the last checkpoint.
Characterisation also feels like it has taken a step back from the previous Medal Of Honor game. Mother, Preacher, and Voodoo are still present and correct but, apart from some bafflingly poor pre-rendered cutscenes (with characters that look like they’re straight out of Silent Hill, complete with deathly stares), it’s little more than radio chatter and the introduction of new characters isn’t well handled and just ends up being confusing.
And despite the variety on offer, the game can feel like a slog, an endless trawl through enemy AI with little scope for anything other than hide, fire, repeat.
The plot, too, is so wildly out there that just following the events can be troublesome. It’s initially about PETN, a highly explosive chemical, but swings into dealing with Abu Sayyaf, undercover soldiers, a marriage falling to pieces and an eleventh hour bullet to the head. There are terrorist training camps, caves, boats, deserts and an ice rink, and yet all this is wrapped up in exposition that rarely makes a lot of sense. The game, bizarrely, tries to cover too many bases, spreading itself far too thinly.
This is, as you have probably guessed, not an entirely pleasant game to play through. The resolutely linear approach is hardly unique to Warfighter, but here it’s so up front that you can’t even pretend that there’s anything but the pre-determined path ahead. The pacing, direction and scripted events are all set out in front of you, fixed in place, and therefore identical should you wish to play it through again after it’s completed.[drop2]It’s also buggy, even after the rather mammoth patch that appeared on the game’s launch. Characters will get stuck, causing scripts to fail; there’re numerous typos in the subtitles; your squad mates will blindly stand and fire at enemies already hiding, and worst still, they’ll stray into your line of fire before making a remark about your aiming. Before the patch? Well, let’s just say it’s probably not worth bothering if you don’t have an internet connection.
Oddly enough, the things that the game does right – high recoil on the weaponry and an emphasis on cover-based shooting – aren’t really explored further than they are from the first couple of levels. The game gets better towards the end, but the formula doesn’t really change and apart from more enemies, it doesn’t really test the player any more. Give the player tactical decisions, multiple routes, choice, and they’ll no doubt get a lot more out of it.
Two years probably wasn’t nearly enough time for Danger Close to come up with a title with huge expectation on its shoulders. The previous Honor, a successful reboot, feels like something of a distant memory, that game’s tense, powerful moments left behind for a feeling of dominance and superiority by a group of apparently invulnerable, unwavering Tier 1 soldiers. It all just feels like a wasted opportunity, a game rushed to market well before it was ready.
Warfighter’s single player campaign isn’t terrible, but it does fall a little short of average.
- Decent graphics, in places
- The car driving bits (developed by Black Box) are highlights
- Limitless ammo means tactics rarely matter
- Too many bugs and presentation issues
- Poor story and execution of ideas
Warfighter is almost entirely devoid of anything that pushes the genre, it lacks coherence and structure and – crucially – doesn’t give off the impression that there’s much feeling in there. It’s as if the game has been built with blocks rather than care and attention to detail, a formulaic adventure with little to really say about itself other than being unfortunate filler for whatever first person shooter is around the corner. It’s visually decent enough, and sounds just fine, but aside from a few neat moments, this is largely avoidable.
A real shame.