GDC: Medal of Honor Warfighter Demo Impressions

Prior to the start of this week’s Game Developers Conference, Electronic Arts held a private event to provide a first look at some new Battlefield 3 maps, titled Close Quarters.  However, it also hosted a sneak peek at its upcoming sequel Medal of Honor Warfighter, being handled with utmost precision by Danger Close.  After letting some real Tier 1 soldiers take the stage and talk about their experience, the company showed off some first gameplay footage…that pretty much left the audience in awe.

That’s because the sequel makes fine use of DICE’s Frostbite 2 engine, which ensures a high level of destruction and detail.  And though the six minutes of gameplay footage wasn’t nearly enough to stave our first person shooting needs, it gave us a huge idea of what to expect from the sequel.  This is the sort of push forward that the series needed, and actually makes the original Medal of Honor look like a PS2 effort.  No joke.

As the demo began, we get the skinny on the mission, which takes place during a monsoon in the Philippines.  The team is sent in to rescue a group of hostages from a rogue military faction, and they have to act with precision and care to get them out alive.  Of course, this is Tier 1, one of the most effective military groups in the world, so they’re used to such a task.

The first half of the demo was a huge firefight taking place in an indoor facility.  The lighting in this part of the stage is simply fantastic, with lots of explosions and dim little details to really make it feel like you’re in the heat of battle.  The destruction was equally impressive, with walls chipping away to pieces from the bullets and little things sticking out, like the smoke rising from a recent grenade drop and a lone chandelier swaying about after you’ve managed to destroy pretty much everyone – and everything – in the room, clearing your way to the next area.

What’s more, the audio is just as remarkable.  There’s plenty of intense chatter between the Tier 1 reps, and the gunfire and explosions sounded superb from what we’ve heard thus far.  Environmental effects make a huge difference too, like creaking floor boards and the impact made from breaching your way through a door.

Though we can’t speak about how the game feels (it was a hands-off demo), we can say that the level of combat is right up there with the previous Medal of Honor.  In fact, with the new Frostbite 2 technology intact, it goes beyond it, with improved shooting action and plenty of chances to take out someone by shooting through objects.  You also have additional breach options available, as you can choose to either kick the door in, plant explosives to go through it, or have an ally toss in a disorienting flash bang, depending on what’s waiting on the other side of the door.

The first half of the demo was sweet, but the second half truly makes use of the Frostbite technology.  Rather than running and gunning, this part of the stage takes place on a boat, putting you behind the helm of a turret and letting you shoot at enemies taking pot shots at you from atop buildings.  It’s here you really see how much work went into the sequel’s design, as you literally fight through the storm while shooting at enemies, watching explosions and collapsing signs reel from the damage you deliver.  Though it’s somewhat tricky to spot them in dark weather, taking them out is still quite effective.  The stage almost reminds us of the harbor battle in Modern Warfare 3, moving at a fast pace but still providing lots of detail.  The demo concluded when the boats were able to hook up with waiting helicopters, taking the Tier 1 reps and hostages to safety.

This was just a small taste of what EA and Danger Close are bringing to the big picture with Warfighter.  The teams are also introducing new multiplayer factors.  Instead of one team controlling the good guys and another being the terrorists, this time around, you’re pitting Tier 1 teams around the world against one another in a “winner take all” scenario.  These include the US reps, the German KSK, the Poland GROM team, the British SAS Soldiers and others.  The multiplayer will also feature maps from all over the world, from the Philippines to Somalia to the good ol’ US.  We’ll probably see more of it come E3.

This year’s first-person shooting market is heating up quickly, between the rumored Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and now with EA’s monstrous new military sequel.  We can’t wait to see more of this great game as it nears its October 23rd release date…